November 28, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Music of Gratitude

In our family, we never wanted anything to end, so we made a... "rule." It was your birthday until the cake was all gone. It was summer until you couldn't wear your flip flops (sometimes summer lasted until November). It was Sunday until 1 a.m. Monday morning. It's Thanksgiving until all the leftovers are finished.

So. Happy Thanksgiving, Part II, to many of you.

Today's poster is a post-Thanksgiving PSA, brought to you by the WPA, whose artists were making sure the nation had nice bright teeth without cranberry skins in between them. SO. After you make that nice turkey omelette this morning, do brush. Thank you.

It's still Thanksgiving weekend, time to give thanks for silliness. Entertain yourself by making a snowflake and enjoy today's Poetry Friday selection.

Poem: "In memory of George Lewis, Great Jazzman" by Lou Lipsitz from Seeking the Hook: New & Selected Poems. Copyright © 1997 Signal Books.

In memory of George Lewis, Great Jazzman


Man is the animal that knows

the clarinet

     makes his living
on the docks, a stevedore,
110 lbs., carrying what loads
he can

the Depression comes along,
his teeth rot, no money, and
he has to accept silence


Thirteen years
     they put the instrument
back together
     with rubber bands
bought him

new teeth
     and then he began

Read the whole of this joyful celebration of music and life here. The final stanza is one I have read over and over again:


Alright. There is a frailness
in all our music.
Sometimes we're broken
and it's lost.
Sometimes we forget
for years it's even in us, heads
filled with burdens and smoke.
And sometimes we've held
to it and it's there,

waiting to break out
walking back from the end.
Poetry Friday dances on at Under the Covers.


Anonymous said...

This is new to me, though I've heard pieces of it in other contexts. I'm glad to be able to read the whole thing!

I love the last stanza too... Sometimes we lose the song, but it hangs on to us.

tanita✿davis said...

Exactly. Here's to being hung onto.

Ruth said...

Great poem. I love the "heads filled with burdens and smoke." Exactly right.

Ruth said...

:-) I think I was commenting here at the same moment you were commenting at my place!

david elzey said...

filled with burdens and smoke"

thanks for this, and for sharing your house "rules." i have a birthday coming up and i think "until the cake is gone" is inspiring me to have a huge cake made...

Mary Lee said...

What a life, indeed. Love that last stanza. Good reminder.

Happy Thanksgiving for as long as it lasts!

Sarah Stevenson said...

Excellent one. I love the poster, too. (The government should start employing more artists again, grumble grumble...) :)

Andromeda Jazmon said...

That is so jumping I can hear the clarinet. Just the way my mother thought I would play but I never could. I love that last stanza too, but seeing them break out with "The Saints" on the way back is what really grabs me.

The snowflakes are so much fun! We are enchanted.

Beth Kephart said...

I can't get enough of music. I can never find the words for music. THank you for this poem. Here's to Thanksgiving, or at least to giving thanks, in perpetuity.