Friday, June 3, 2016

I Wonder if the Magician Is Still Playing

He had more than forty stringed instruments
And dozens of flutes from around the world
Arranged on the stage of the old, whitewashed
Mormon ward of the Rockville pioneers.
His concert fell somewhere between music
And a dog-and-pony demonstration
Of his facility with the exotic
Shapes, sounds, and names of his strange orchestra,
His awkward, dervish manipulation
Of sampling and looping technology

As he leapt and scurried around the stage,
Tapping pedals, picking up this and that,
Fingers flying, adding chirps and drumbeats,
Interrupting his songs with his patter,
Feat of dexterity and endurance
And pretty much pretty to hear, except
When he recited his lengthy, bad poem.
When I drove past the ward the next morning
With my daughter, she asked me, "I wonder
If the magician is still playing?" No,

Then again, yes. Who knows long it goes,
The bravura display of our diverse
Similarity, skill from drilled practice,
Creativity from repetition.
Magicians are like that. They distract us
From their limitations as we distract
Ourselves from our own. The pipa, dombra,
Tabla, pan pipes, mandolin and zither
Could be seen--not so the cable-yoked ghosts
That murmured, do this, again and again.

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