Matthew James Babcock

I Realized Today

Grand Piano by Nerva

at this guy’s funeral that my death
will not be a musical event.
Six former students
of the guy who died performed
his original compositions
with graceful glancing strokes
across silvery xylophones
and glossy marimbas and vibes
arranged like aircraft carriers
for angelic bombers
or sonic steppingstones ascending
from the sunburst floral sprays
at the front of the crowded church
to the soundproof studio
of the next world.
The paunchy former students
were packed into wrinkled suits
of powder blue linen
with retro stovepipe trousers
and highwater cuffs in the style
of Teddy Boys and Mods,
as if bodies were botched etudes
or notes they once reached.
Imagine flubbing the maestro’s scores
as his critical soul hovered
in a reserved pew, fingers interlocked,
ear cocked for slack tempo,
his metronome of bones
clocking off perfection,
his cork-handled baton slashing down
its vicious ivory to sting
your bloodless knuckles
then passing through pianissimo
like the hiss of condolences.
To those who will conduct:
Gear my eulogy to ungifted silence.
I want one bouquet of left feet and tin ears.
Awkward dead space, my eulogy.
My eulogy: a benefit mime concert
for volunteer dolphin trainers
with cancer, generations
after which students of my eulogy
and students of their students
in an assembly of accidents
will reprise variations on joy
and grief, improvising staccato coughs
and standard sighs of rare measure,
ringing like blood in the ears
of a muted room of offbeat hearts.


About the writer:
Matthew James Babcock. Idahoan. Writer. Failed breakdancer. Books: Points of Reference (Folded Word); Strange Terrain (Mad Hat); Heterodoxologies (Educe Press); Four Tales of Troubled Love (Harvard Square Editions); Future Perfect (forthcoming, Engine Books, 2020). Awards: Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry ($5,000); Juxtaprose Poetry ($500); Lucidity Magazine Poetry ($1.00).

Image: Grand Piano by Nerva. No medium specified. No size specified. 2004. By free license.