Joannie Stangeland, “An Hour for Practice”

It’s hard to say if the music of poetry creates the emotion in a poem, or if it is the poet’s emotion that creates the music.” –Kenneth Koch

Over at Joannie Stangeland’s blog, where she is offering a poetry prompt per day this month, today’s prompt is about sound. A perfect day, it seems to me, to share one of Joannie’s poems. I have two of her books on my shelf, A Steady Longing for Flight, which was (in 1995) the very first book chosen by Floating Bridge Press for its chapbook series; and Into the Rumored Spring (Ravenna Press, 2011). I am also happy to recommend her new book, In Both Hands (also Ravenna). You can read more about Joannie at this site.

Joannie wrote “Into the Rumored Spring” for a friend with cancer. Here is a poem from that collection in which the subject listens to her daughter practice her music. It is luscious to read out loud.

AN HOUR FOR PRACTICE

Thrum to the hum of her heart,
a drum — and from the next room
the boom of the bass, the chase
of the cymbal, sticks racing
a paradiddle on the snare.
Get the triangle and tambourine,
castanets clacking like the flicker
that pecks at the streetlamp, clapping
like the sound of a book snapping shut.
Let the beat bounce off the walls
while down the hall the other daughter
blows the bassoon. Scales and arpeggios,
wood in the wind, a song of the forest
here, in the house. Oh,
banish all hush.

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