Thursday, February 24, 2011



Not the same sounds,
but close, elbowing each other
to reach the ear, jostling.

A collection of notes can cause
discomfort, a pang
at the mess of them jutting

out at you, a long
ladder and steel pipes tied
to the truck in front

of you with thin yellow twine.
Humans possess
a limited tolerance for tension

between what we
expect and produce. My first
piano lesson, right

thumb smashed onto middle C,
left hand unable
to find its footing, slipping

here and there
over black keys. So disappointing,
my inability to bring

beauty into the room. I clawed
at the smooth enamel,
I was desperate to generate

melody, as we all
are, sitting before a gleaming
instrument that

only waits for us. And what is
it that we play
when we fold the keyboard’s lid

back into itself:
chopsticks. The right hand part
we plink out with

both hands high up on the keys,
scraping notes
together, hoping for someone

to play the lower
part, steady chords nudging us
toward resolution.


  1. Lovely life lesson learned. Interesting how Man's appendages always seem to be the disadvantage, the clutter, the 'mess', at admitting symphony and syncrony.

    Yet, sometimes these same manual digits produce a harmony with what Nature has already gifted, by way of the arts.

    Thank you for your playful and symphonic words.

  2. Wonderful images of notes jangling and sounds "elbowing each other" and excellent use of the metaphor, Hannah.

  3. I love this poem--especially as a musician.

  4. Superb. I shall come back to read it again. I can't say too emphatically how much I enjoyed this.

  5. I think my ear hurt in the middle of the poem, heard the finger on the wrong key : ) Lovely poem as always Hannah. Wishing you a lovely day!

  6. For me, the poem starts here, "Humans possess
    a limited tolerance for tension

    between what we
    expect and produce."

    Loved the inclusion of the piano and chopsticks, I play it often (the piano, not chopsticks!).

    The title of the piece was good, too, and perhaps, your first few lines meant to create a dissonance with the rest of the piece? Either way, loved it!

  7. Hi Hannah,
    Perhaps I'm reading into it, but this poem can also describe a relationship, where the two people wish to mesh, but there is discord. As a poem about dissonance and playing the piano, I love this line: "I was desperate to generate melody." It's a wonderful description of the sometimes disconnect between desire and execution. I love the use of chopsticks, which we can all hear in our mind. "Steady chords nudging us toward resolution," can again, describe a relationship, and how we long for this successful partner-ing.

  8. We're learning a couple of pieces in choir with strong dissonances, one by Purcell. They do have a way of nudging toward resolution, but sometimes our director asks us to hold the dissonant chord for awhile, so that we hear each other and enjoy it before moving to the resolving chord. It's wonderful!

    Never mind the piano lesson, you bring beauty into my life through your poetry.

  9. Absolutely beautifully played. Not a note out of place.xo

  10. I agree with Annie about a relationship that seeks to "mesh" away from the dissonance. Of course, one has to read beyond the literal level because of the extended metaphor of the piano and dissonantal sounds. Good poetry.

  11. Oh, that reaching for shape and symmetry, balance and harmony. Beautifully communicated here, the constant aspiration that must be confounded.


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