Poems by Kelley Morehouse and Vere McCarty

When a poet responds with his or her own art to another work of art, the result is ekphrasis.  Music is the art form that inspires these two poems.  In one poem the artists play a sonata.  In the other the artist is a songbird.  Products of quiet morning writing time, these verses celebrate the capacity of music to lift the spirit.     


“The Starving Masses” imagines the notes of a sonata tumbling out windows and down the side of a building, becoming bread for the people below.  It describes a mutation of sound into other senses, satisfying the needs of taste, motion and touch.

With its dwindling verticality on the page, “The Starving Masses” takes the shape of something light as dotted eighth notes falling, falling.

The Starving Masses

by Kelley Morehouse

The pianist said

            the musical notes were birthed

that day on the 12th floor,

             issued as they were

from violin and grand piano.

             Violinist said, No.

They were released.  Dispersed like manna

to the masses, scattered to the city below.

The music fell upon the women waiting

on lower floors at their kitchen’s

window sills, catching it

like falling snow,

to savor its flavor long

enough to waltz with it,

weep with it, begin

to understand the language

that it speaks.  Onto passers-by

the music fell,

          onto parched skin that absorbed

it in and onto those most desperate –

who filled their pockets

by the handful.

Not a scrap,

not a drop

of music

was ever





“In My Tree” also pictures a vertical space and music sent from above.  The singer is a songbird who (like many a poet) persists in singing despite his doubt that anyone is listening. 

If it looks compressed on the page, that is because “In My Tree” is really a song lyric that has been coaxed, with some interplay, into the mold of its melody.

In My Tree 

by Vere McCarty

In your world you wander sun to sun

looking for the one who can sing to you.

You want the world to hear so desperately!

when I sing to you, will you answer me?

I can sing anything my little heart desires,

raise the light of dawn, dim the stars.

When I let my song come out

            there lives for miles and miles

no heart I cannot move – even yours.

In my tree I’m safe inside my dream,

you come into my world,

            oh but you can’t see me.

In my tree I’m not afraid to be

fragile as a little bird

            away up in my tree.          


Vere McCarty is a bird lover and stargazer.
Kelley Morehouse began her poem while listening to violinist Nancy Korda and pianist Michael Smith.
They all live in Silverton.