Now and Then

posted November 9, 2023

Sing to me, Muse, of complicated men
Take me down to the ground floor, 
Repossess my all-access pass

Replace it with ears that heard as they once could
Without the prism of history. 
Hearing is not the same as listening.

I want to hear, Muse, the way I used to. 
Before I knew they slowed down John’s vocal
In “Strawberry Fields” to give it that spooky sound. 

Before I knew George Martin played the piano
On “In My Life” an octave down,
Then doubled its speed.

Treble treble everywhere, I wish I didn’t
Know Paul loves treble because
Once, the piccolo trumpet in “Penny Lane’ 

was as anonymous as birdsong.

(Do I love the cardinal’s song any better, knowing it is hers? 
Does she sing more sweetly because I see, in my mind’s eye, red?)

My complicated mind insatiable in its need for story
Robs me of simple pleasure, even as it hordes context, 
Accumulates answers, believing that knowing will make 

The listening sweeter. All I want
Is to hear “A Day in the Life” without knowing anything at all
About the House of Lords or Albert Hall.

It’s this mistaking senses––ears are not eyes, and so need no light.
And yet, today, when their new song, like a neo-Lazareth,
Met my virgin ears with its flanging of John and Paul’s voices
George’s yearnful ghost of a slide lead, 
Reproduced by his childhood schoolmate
Ringo’s steady thud stitching it all together, 
Just loose enough to breathe––

Well, I can’t say it was purely the music that brought the tears.

For the month of November, I write a poem a day to support the efforts of the Center for New Americans. Please support my efforts by contributing to this wonderful organization via my pledge page.

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