This is one of three poems that I submitted to the William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition back in 1983. Two of my poems were chosen for the final ten. I ultimately placed third and was invited to attend a conference on The Humanities in Medicine where I was gave a 20 minute poetry reading. Poetry is meant to read aloud. To my eye and ear, a poem is a like a musical score that can only be fully realized by hearing it out loud – word choice is determined by the non-verbal sound of the syllables, with the progression of sound being crafted like a melody. The challenge is to try to achieve some sort of literal content and meaning. I also pay attention to rhythm, line breaks, and punctuation to help convey the musicality of language.
RHAPSODY FOR SOLO VIOLIN
A wisp of smoke rises from the ashtray, arcing
in a glissando of pirouettes, fading upwards
into the brilliance of a single nude lightbulb, dangling
from a frayed cord. Record covers lay strewn among
discarded kleenex, empty reminders of the music
they once held. The records are stacked naked
next to the turntable, their mysterious grooves
exposed to dust as Subotnick mingles side
by side with Bach and Stravinsky.
Botticelli’s Venus is born over the crumpled sheets
of a stained mattress, a thumbtack
holding her against the wall. Bartok is spread open
across a music stand, his bare belly exposed
and scarred by the cut of a discerning pencil.
Nearby lies the violin, a 1738 Guadagnini
resting quietly in its rosin-scented case.
It is a scene that I view from within;
all boundaries are blurred between myself,
this room. Within this portamento of space,
the walls become my walls, my skin.
I can feel the night breeze brushing
across the shingles, I can sense
Venus and Saturn in conjunction
within the arc of a moon sliver
rising above the roof, way out there
where there are no walls, or windows
or doors. I often dream
of fading these walls, bending the flat planes into curves
that spread out, dissolving; until it is no longer
a matter of edges, until there is nothing
©1984 Kurt Biehl