Notes on orchestration
Repeat the bass at the base of the stairs, Daddy
stares and composes his chaconne in the shotgun
house (one two three, one two three), one too
many rooms to travel how we know about momentum.
I learned about momentum that night like architecture—
Von Goethe said it’s frozen music—who wouldn’t
want to slow the ground
Cellists line the hall, shuck
the hull of the instrument belly
up—it’s a holding, it’s quiet in here
even when it echoes. Or horse hair—
I keep drawing my arm
like a bow. As I run I’m not conducting
air anymore, it stops at the organ
and doesn’t respire
like when you coded in the car,
quick stopped windows.
This is a fugue. This is a few good
pitches a few gods less.
This is a funeral
with feverfew, a full on fuck-you
leitmotif. This is a fugue, as your motives
light on the dash, this is in fumes.
This feud is for you
as much as it’s forming.
Release: theme and variations
The conductor’s upturned palm on the last
note, his hand closing slowly around sound.
How the final beat differs from the initial
ictus, hot and certain.
She tells me one night over champagne
flutes about the first fish she caught, how the hook
cut clear through its dilated pupil, how she cried
and dropped it back into the brine, still attached.
The family four-door sedan was a lease.
Her husband shot himself in the passenger seat
parked on the gravel shoulder.
The next owners were, of course, not privy
to any of this.
Let me go. (If you can.)
Smoke lifts from the broken ground
at Centralia, and over the hilltop
cemetery, the mine fire still burning.
I have come here to misunderstand
the difference: what was is still
It’s raining in the morning here, and I don’t sleep
well without you.
You’re reigning in the mourning, and I don’t.
Without you, it’s rennin, and I curdle.
Your girdle is reining in my stomach juices.
The reinin isn’t helping.
Your raiment is on the floor.
I’m tighter beneath it. I knew this.
I new this nakedness a novelty
a bodily rind pealing.
Paling I seize, and where my father was born
there is a history of plague.
Endemic, the enzyme and the high
metabolic rates of frogs where they race and call.
In Egypt, the high rates of frog and cull.
And in Rayne in the morning there are frogs without.
She blisters where the sand ripped imprints, plum
thin skin lacerated and weeping. I plumb her
thinness and burst, blissed. Her wear the sand-ripped.
I’m printed. I lash her
weighted, her last—or she ate it and wept cane.
I came grains. Granted, her skin is aplomb
pitted from windburn.
My father saw another shore whose salinity—those false
ripples sweat her sternum
now that she’s always cold and buoyant
as she hollows.
Hallowed, he prayed into the earth
cavity, the deepest depression a quarter mile below
sea level. I see her level now
that he is dead see.
When I met you I was slogging.
A lager in logger plaid, played, staid
and stalwart I stayed and stalled a war—
I warned you about how I had a running
history of loving by miles
miled and paled, milled
or mild like well
paired beer and cheese but with a penchant
for the pungent, the punch
lines drawn from the bottle, the bayou, the bite:
you can read the meniscus like the wear
my knees, cypress where you were supple
eyed. I’d supplicate, press my femur a few more
times, angle the fibula, your fits, your fascia
you’re tendon I tended
to you. I tend to articulate as a hinge
particular, a bent, a bone I picked
you, I placed you ossified.
Fistula: theme and variations
“All symbolism in art points towards the state of pseudo-hermaphrodite as the desirable and intended state of man.” — Forrest Bess, in his anatomical treatise
First you lie—base, down
on the table, tools in your fist.
Eula Biss, in her essay “These Nerves,” writes,
I explored my own medieval tunnels. The walls were twenty feet thick and they did not feel secure.
Labia sin: the subincision Bess thought would cut
the gendered fold.
Labels in the subconscious, he called them
personality #1 and personality #2.
Lapels and subtext revealed the divide, the Texas
roughneck, the abstracted painter.
Music can hold enormous power in memories and experiences, transporting us instantly to an age, location, or person. What sonic joys, mysteries, disbelief, and clarity have you experienced? Identify songs of influence in your life and explore them like variations on a theme, melding syntax and song structure, recalling the seriousness or levity that accompanies. Whether it’s an account of when a specific song first entered your life, the process of learning to play a song, teaching someone a song, experiencing the same song in different places as it weaves through your life, unbelievable radio timing, sharing songs with those in need, tracking the passing down of songs, creative song analysis, music as politics, etc, I am interested in those ineffable moments and welcoming submissions of your own variations on a theme, as drawn from your life’s soundtrack. Please email submissions to email@example.com and keep an eye out for others’ Variations.
**(“song” is a broad phrase: could be a pop song, a traditional tune, a symphony, commercial jingles, a hummed lullaby, 2nd grade recorder class horror stories, etc)**
Billie R. Tadros earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and she is a graduate of the MFA program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and of the Writers Institute at Susquehanna University. Her first book of poems The Tree We Planted and Buried You In is forthcoming from Otis Books. She is also the author of two chapbooks, inter: burial places (Porkbelly Press, 2016) and Containers(Dancing Girl Press, 2014). You can find more of/about her and her work at www.BillieRTadros.com and on Twitter at @BillieRTadros.