Monday, March 12, 2018

Quarter-Life Poetry: The Trumpet Player

When I was in my mid-twenties, I wrote a lot of poetry that I have just kept on the computer, wedged in notebooks, or stacked in old suitcases I use for saving things. I recently collected all of the together, made some edits and illustrated pictures for all of them, all of which I will be sharing here. Her is the first one!

The Trumpet Player

Part One: The City

On a balcony, empty
except for a basil plant and
a rusting music stand
the trumpet player
plays to an almost sleeping city.

The gentle warble and moan
of his trumpet
sends descending sound waves
to lonely ears

1 AM, and the night security guard starts his shift
his vision murky with
the remains of interrupted sleep
the trumpet player plays
a song to liven
the bleary thoughts and slouched shoulders
of the security guard, living in a reversed world
night is day, the sunrise his sunset
The fried egg breakfast his wife carefully cooks
is his last meal before
falling into dreams.

2 AM, and the merriment seekers stumble from bars
laughing and shouting, they teeter
down the grimy streets
past closed restaurants and
apartment buildings with propped up windows
the only sound the gurgling rush of summer fans
pushing thick air in circles
until the trumpet player plays
an unsteady melody matching the
rhythm and wobbled movements
of giddy steps

3 AM, the neighbors pound on the walls
the most direct way to beg for silence
but the trumpet player hears nothing, except
gentle thumps between
the deep inhale of breath and
the exhaled brassy whine
swirling listlessly through the muffled night

Part Two: The Circus

The trumpet player leaves the city
to join a circus, or maybe it was not just a circus
but 'the' circus. The only circus left.

With three other musicians
the trumpet player plays for the dancing bear

a sturdy bear with vacant eyes
he is dressed in a tutu
a giant pink bow sags from his neck
he totters and twirls
to the same song over and over agian
with each twirl, the bear heaves
a great and disappointed sigh

and even though the trumpet player never
heard the neighbors pounding on the walls
he hears the bear
and sometimes he ignores the scripted music
instead makes his trumpet match
the sound of the bears sigh
'A Flat' he thinks when he hears the sigh
or on some days, 'E Minor.'

and when the circus lights are off
everything that glimmered in the spotlight
looks dull
and sticky with ancient residue

so the trumpet player runs away from the circus
and brings the dancing bear with him.

They move to a new city
and on a new balcony with a different basil plant
the trumpet player plays songs to the night
while the bear lies naked in the open air
watching the slow shimmer and swirl
of the slightly sleeping city
he decides to forget the circus
and he lets his thoughts loosen
so he can spend his time
wondering, wondering, wondering. 

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