the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Allen C. Fischer

At the Jazz Club

Instead of a dry
caucus of drumbeats,
there was ice —
the clink and ting
of melt, drinks
sounding under
the mood indigo
the pianist improvised.
There were cubes
shifting, ideas
in motion finding
their way to water,
jingling the sides
of each glass in
a series of reminders.
In this syncopation,
the heart may
stray, disorient your
karma. If it does,
find an allegro and
riff to revive the beat.


A Dusting

Just a dusting, the weatherman says,
my hair turning grey, streaks of white.
As the snow forms little paper weights
the leaves do not relent. White bewilders green.
Am I coming or going? So much to remember
and forget. The snow is premature,
still October. A bonfire of ideas brings
last summer's harvest of heat to mind;
red leaves rain down. Just a dusting,
the forecast said. An increase in blood pressure,
the sense of bending, being weighed down.
But it's only October. Perhaps I'm getting
ahead of myself. Snow-burdened trees begin
to split apart triggering what sounds like rifle shots.
How would the ancients explain it: winter
attacking the Parthenon, Zeus and Hera
at each other's throats, sound bites of
an old religious schism or simply a dusting
from on high. Is snow part of the aging process
or are the forces of nature reneging?
It's cold now, the moon's surface pure white,
a dusting turned distant. Dead ahead
lies the winter landscape of my journey —
my awkward shuffle and paper skin,
the whisper of my voice.


Perfect Pitch

"…in the early 20th century, piano
tuners outnumbered members of any
other trade in English insane asylums."

— A Romance on Three Legs, Glen Gould's
Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano

by Katie Hafner

about an old clock
rattles me —
perhaps it's life's metronome
hanging by a hair
or monotony's promise
of solitary confinement
ticking away. I listen
to my heart keep time
as one might hear the note
a piano tuner repeats again
and again to get it right.
The note pushes back: tick, tick,
ticking like Chinese water torture.
As the piano tuner listens,
he adjusts the note
distilling it pitch perfect
unlike anything normal.
And then moves on.
But I am stuck, the last
note incessantly drumming.
How to get over it
when the next
will not come.



Back to Poetry