poetry

throwback: 1998: the music box

The cloth of music is sewn as the spiny drum spins its wonder-thread.

I linger at the bed’s edge—
The milk of a morning moon pouring in through the picture windows,
Stirred with the pinks and paling starry winks of a chased night waning—
Holding in my hands a tiny cedar chest,
As over its simple carvings I let a thoughtful finger quest;
It would, I ponder, to a pauper be priceless.

I took it from the hearth’s ledge—
The flames of a failing fire flashing from embers in warm crescendos,
A dance in the draft of the chimney shaft, the heat is yet sustaining—
Seeking for my soul a reflective rest,
As hidden in the wood grain I count a thousand breaths blessed;
It would, I reckon, to a thinker be timeless.

I open the felt-lined lid—
The cloth of music is sewn as the spiny drum spins its wonder-thread,
Along the walls of a haunted heart’s halls it hangs as an echo—
And I’m taken by this token into her dreams,
As the silvery symphony spirals to love’s loftier beams;
It would, I fancy, to a songsmith be flawless.

Though still, I’m more the fervid—
The music box slowing as I muse after the beauty in my bed;
Forgiveness, a friend, a gift, a godsend, yes, my life’s roundest halo—
And the pauper, the thinker, the songsmith, it seems,
Are each and all me as I leave open this charm of deeper themes;
It shan’t, by my hope, be unwound or found keyless.


—11.07.1998

3 comments on “throwback: 1998: the music box

  1. I come back to the word exquisite, which I presented to you in a comment box beneath another post: I have followed the poetry and songs of Leonard Cohen since the late 1960’s, when he had his first hit single, Suzanne. His voice accompanied me, soothing and inspiring me, through my entire – somewhat gut-wrenching – adult life, until he died. After that I found it too painful to listen to him, until today. At this moment he is singing ‘Alexandra Leaving’ to me. I remain dry-eyed. I am not curling up on the floor, and neither am I stiffly pushing the table with my tensed arms, as if the my action will push the grief away.
    Leonard Cohen’s poetry is exquisite. I thought poetry had died with him.
    I was wrong. Your poetry is exquisite, John, and although nobody could take his place, that much is true.
    Thank you, sincerely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The gift has finally been given then! I wrote this poem three lifetimes ago it seems. I was single and had been for quite a while at the time of its writing, believe it or not. I remember exactly where I was when I dated it. It has always been one that I’ve kept hidden in a small collection of fondness. About six weeks ago, I pulled down a box of stuff that had been opened maybe once, certainly not twice, in over ten years. In it, I found this one and no small trove of others. In time, I plan to walk them, one by one, into the sun…

      Thank you, Jane, for being so blindingly uplifting. And I’m glad you let him sing to you again. As he would want you to remember: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll look forward to reading your historic treasures. I wish I’d kept more of mine, but I’ve been through a few chaotic house moves, and have left my possessions scattered all over the county.
        Most of my old poems were in the form of vicious humour. I had a lot to be angry about.

        Liked by 1 person

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