Isn’t it strange? A heron plucked me from the data stream,
signed shares to a Carolina wren. The sky is filled
with lines of code–crows deal in Visa, mockingbirds spill
my secrets all every day. Night winds snicker my dreams.
Marooned between brown grass and buzzards, part meme
part trope, incoherent I swing between despair and silliness.
Isn’t it strange?
Duck clouds and chickweed are scams–not what they seem.
But when hope holds out its magic lamp boons, I’m still
not inclined to deny them wholeheartedly. Maybe willing
suspension of disbelief has shimmied into my cynical theme.
Isn’t it strange?
“with a string” A fragment, found phrase. A not-
entirely blank piece of jigsaw puzzle. “With” could
be by means of, or accompanying. “A” is common,
excluding little (other than plurality). And “string”—
the sort of thing you/one might pull from a pocket
or junk drawer is barely more than a symbol. A string
(pianos, harps, guitars, garrotes notwithstanding)
isn’t strong. You don’t hang someone with a string
or expect it to hold in place anything more forceful
than a kite. Things strung together may be—separately—
strong, and if they are words or phrases, true. But string
can be rotten and sentences, paragraphs, even more—lies.
With a chain of connections no more sturdy than lint or
clover, he convinces us. And we are powerless, no?
The Conservatory students—trained to
Western violins, pianos, rhythms—
descend upon the country every year
to listen to China, to bring back songs
missed by last year’s class. Does that rural face
half-hidden by a sweat rag, itself hide
one unusual melody? If you
tip over an upright hinterland stool
does it resound continentally, or
only clatter like a chair stumbled into
in the dormitory dark? Tough old wood,
and sly, the root below the Western graft
is a challenge to tap, brew, distill.
Was at a concert Saturday, a chamber group presenting a program blending Western and Chinese music. There were some questions for the composers, and this poem evolved from one of the responses. But don’t blame the artist.