Fool Sings Opera: A Poem

Posted on: October 19, 2009
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By Ken Gaertner


I whisper into the hairs on my wrist,

interlace my fingers, grimace,

and with my ribs

try to put a stranglehold on panic.

A breathing audience is alarming enough

without one’s own lungs beating like bass drums.

And upstairs in the dressing room

one termite nudging another,

whispering, enjoying the fix I’m in.

Their supporting roles have been contracted long before –

they know the graceful diminishment of the floor joist,

the wood dust falling like dandruff on my shoulders,

have heard the loud breaking of my voice.

My high notes, like arrows, pierce the feathers

of the sparrows on the roof.

but my bass notes bounce down the steps

and stagger into the city.

Curses suddenly burst out of the foamy rapids

gurgling on the lips of drunkards,

high C’s stagger out of tripping waiters,

dainty coughs drop out of the guard dog’s mouth,

while automobiles noiselessly collide,

and belching tankers toot their horns at sagging bridges.

=0 A

I pause for applause

but I can hear only the creaking of my trembling knees.


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