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The Concert

February 6, 2011

It’s been several weeks of non-blogging from me.  No excuses – I’ve just somehow been sucked into the abyss of overscheduling again (despite my best attempts at making this year’s batch of New Year’s resolutions stick).  And what little unscripted time I have had has been deliberately devoted to more crucial to-do’s.  I’ve missed you all though.  Really… I’m not just saying that.

Today, I spent the afternoon helping my grandma sort through files and files and boxes and boxes of paper tchotchkes that have been collecting the dust of decades – Reader’s Digest articles, old Christmas mail, calendars that date back to before I knew her, newsletters, jokes carefully cut out of magazines for a rainy-day laugh…  It was an exhausting afternoon of sorting through a lifetime of memories, waiting for her to come to the decision on each item whether she still needed it or not.  Glad to say that some ground was made.   

Among her “treasures” we found this following poem, written by a voice familiar to us Canadian classical music lovers – Bill Richardson (that’s him in the banner above), longtime host of various CBC Radio shows, most recently of “Saturday Afternoon at the Opera”, and “In Concert” (a Sunday afternoon showcase for classical concerts recorded across our vast nation).  He also happens to be a man of words, having written several books and winning stuff for them.  Here are a few more words that he wrote for a 1994 publication called “Come Into my Parlour“.

The Concert

I like, on Sunday afternoons, to take the city bus,

And hie me to the concert hall, abstract me from the fuss
And rush and pell-mell tussle of the grim and grimy streets:
Obliterate all ugliness, ingest, instead, what’s sweet.

I love to hear the orchestra’s familiar repertoire,
Forget for ninety minutes that the world’s an abbatoir.
I like to see the players decked in tuxes, tails, and ties,
And floor-length gowns, discreet and sleek, so chic!  So civilized!

The others in the audience I know, full well, delight,
To set aside their worries, stall the call of gall and spite,
To seek a fragrant Eden in a land that’s ruled by Cain.
But this year there is someone who is driving me insane.

Dear lady in the seat next mine, no doubt you have your charms:
Or so I hope.  I often rest my arm against your arm.
Our separate dermal wrappings brush:  each concert it’s the same.
Skin to skin in dark we sit:  I do not know your name.

Mary, Margaret, or Lucille, Hermione, or Claire.
It matters not, nor I to you:  we neither of us care.
Whyever should it matter if you’re Norma, Hilda, Heather?
Or if I’m Tom or Dick or Phil?  We’re only brought together

By accident of placement and, I guess, by common love
Of orchestras and music.  But I swear by Jove above
You’re going to drive me bonkers with the clamour and the din
You seem to feel compelled to make:  forthwith, a list of sins.

Your handbag is a warehouse for a plenitude of snacks,
Each of which is modest, disinclined to shed its wraps.
When finally from the linty depths of purse you’ve pulled and pried
The bonbon that you’ve coveted, you strip its crackly hide.

And when the stubborn cellophane has finally been plucked
And wrestled from the candy you are disinclined to suck.
Oh no!  You have to chomp this thing!  You’ve got bionic dentures.
And this is just the outset of my sonic misadventures.

I’m sorry you’re asthmatic.  You can’t help it that you wheeze.
But could you try to moderate the need to sniff and sneeze?
Resist the urge to let the surge of phlegmy, rattling cough
Make the welkin tremble when the orchestra plays soft.

I think too that you might well find your respiratory gloom
Could be alleviated if you swore off cheap perfume.
And though I cannot claim to be a medical technician
I’ll venture the opinion that a canny dietitian

Could think of ways to lift you from your culinary rut,
And thus becalm the rumblings and the tumblings in your gut.
It’s like an Indy racecourse, and a change in your comestibles
Could surely still the grumbling in your tract gastrointestinal.

Dear lady in the seat next mine, anonymous and loud,
I speak not for myself alone:  I represent the crowd.
We all of us are gentle folk, and all opposed to violence:
Ensure that we remain that way; devote yourself to silence.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard “gastrointestinal” used so poetically…

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 7, 2011 1:16 pm

    this made me laugh out loud. great poem!

    “Your handbag is a warehouse for a plenitude of snacks…” is my favorite stanza, by far.

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