Distant Harp

Wind Harp

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Night, gripping the stars,

tightly clutching the moon,

could only hold my glance briefly;

I knew it too well

one look brought back everything

too many jumbles of clustered sky

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so I was thinking of you,

my eyes closed,

blinking open for safety,

fast snatches of night, feeling the wind on my face,

hearing the tumbling leaves

prepare of the shock of rain

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I almost called your name;

funny,

me alone there in the night

calling to unhearing ears

instead of being home safe

out of the impending storm

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funnier still,

it never rained;

I waited, longing for it,

but, well, it never rain;

which was why

at five-thirty in the wind

I found myself asleep

with your name in my dreams

flashing in a torrent downstream

with a mile or so ahead

to leave your name behind

humming as blue

as the red morning air

Ah the pain of the dream of unrequited love. I had crushes but no real emotional involvements on the East Coast so perhaps the ‘you’ I was thinking of in this piece was not a person but the opportunity to be fully out. An opportunity like the impending storm that never materialized.

I enjoy the deliberate play of words that reflects struggle: gripping, clutching, tumbling, torrent. Clutching also implying ‘clutching at straws’ – the striving for unsubstantial, unattainable goals. The moon is always out of reach 🙂 

A wind harp (an Aeolian harp) is a real instrument. Often on top of a hill where it can be played by the wind. Sometimes a natural phenomenon created by trees growing in the right spot. Often man-made out of metal of different thickness, set at different angles to carve notes out of the wind. Ethereal. Great fun in cemeteries 🙂 I have a recording of Jan Garabek using a wind harp as part of a sonic texture. 

I like the ambiguity near the end – ‘found myself asleep’ – is the poem a dream of that windy hill or did I fall asleep on that windy hill waiting for rain that never came? I’ve also learned to ‘nail the landing’ by this point as that ending is perfect – unexpected & satisfying. The hum of the wind harp bounces the colours into a strange harmony.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Jan Garbarek and the Windharp

 

Jan Garbarek is another of those jazz players I discovered via ECM. Like many in the ECM stable he was sideman to many & also a solo leader, so I can’t recall where I first heard him. He is a sax player mainly soprano. I have him in various settings. In the collection are as Lp to cd transfers: Esoteric Circle; Dis, Circle; Red Lanta; Red Lanta/Herbie Mann. In an mp3 collection I have Places/In Praise of Dreams w: Eberhard Weber/Parker/Kitaro/El TrioTucked in other mp3 collections is his Dansere; Sol Do Meio Dia. As stand alones I have: Twelve Moons; Officium; Ragas & Sagas

 

Theses range from the free jazz of Esoteric Circles to the meditative Officium. His soaring sax sound is to distinct I can recognize it in works I have never heard before. At once time I would pick up anything he was playing on. Now I suspect I have enough 🙂 His playing is more ‘intellectual’ than swing or bop. He rarely displays the energy of Coltrane but never becomes as sappy as the, to me, unlistenable Kenny G.

 

He is also a master of sonic tapestry as in Dis which features the use of a Wind-harp that is played by gusts of wind coming in from North Sea, creating tones and overtones. How cool is that. On Officium he plays with the classical Hilliard Ensemble, on Ragas & Sagas he is joined by Pakistani musicians.

 

Not all of his work is this conceptual. But he has never been trapped by one genre or texture. Well worth searching out if you are unfamiliar. Dis is a good starting point, as is any of his work with guitarist Ralph Towner. 

Larking About

No one was sure what it meant. The first order larks were positive this was a sign of unwelcome change. The first order robins, on the other talon, were certain that it boded only the best possible opportunities for all the creatures.

‘No. No. No,’ the larks bounced from branch to branch.

‘Yes. Yes. Yes,’ the robins jumped across the ground. ‘We have nothing to fear.’

‘Fear. Fear. Fear,’ the larks insisted. ‘That fear will unravel the nest of our safe lives here. Something must be done.’

‘Nothing must be done.’ the robins replied. ‘Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.’

‘Stop.’ a second string blue jay rasped. ‘This bickering isn’t going to get us anywhere. Does anyone know where it came from.’

‘Cat. Cat. Cat,’ the larks warned and the birds dispersed. 

A quick fragmented scattering of black, red and blue dots lifted into to the air over the trees and settled on higher perches to wait until the cats left.

‘Well. Well,’ the orange cat purred to the grey puss with him ‘We still have our power.’

‘Not all have fled.’ The grey puss looked up into the tree.

‘Ah. A new nest? Let’s investigate.’ the orange cat sprung up. ‘Coming.’

‘No that’s fine. I’ll wait here for you.’

The orange cat clawed up the side of the tree to the branch where the nest was wedged. 

‘It’s not nest. Just some toy that got tossed up into the air and landed here.’ The cat swatted it with his paw. One eye came loose. ‘Teddy bear.’ 

His claw got caught in the string. A tug, two tugs and it was more knotted up. He yanked and the bear came loose and they both fell to the ground.  The grey puss streaked under the gate.

The orange cat shook himself free, paced the yard, rubbed its scent where it was fading and curled up under the tree. Not asleep. Just waiting for those robins to come back. Tasty treats they were. Robins. Yum. 

‘See. See. See.’ the first robins began. ‘It has brought us luck. No cat has ever climbed so high before. 

‘We should have attacked when they fell.’ the blue jay pecked in the direction of the cat. ‘We would have no trouble ending its life. All of us could have attacked at once. But we’ve lost our chance.’

The orange cat stretched out in the sun its head on the teddy bear’s stomach.

‘See. See. See. They are accomplices. He will never leave. We will have to find new homes.’

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