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
“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.