Ian Pople

Three Poems

The Telling

Perhaps the drummer, cymbals
parallel with the floor, hi-hat swishing,
left leg tricking to the side to hit a rack
of bells. We’d like to think his story linear,
that we, too, could tap our fingers,
pivot beat upon beat, run tippy-toe
across the drum-skins, bass drum
providing floorboarding.

It’s sometimes the bass-player.
His braids pushed through the back band
of his baseball cap, moving his left hand
smoothly up and down the neck
of the upright bass, fingers of the right hand
plucking/stroking the strings,
nodding his head in time, moving
to the electric bass only to solo. Somehow
ethereal for all it’s in the bass clef,
under-girding the plot, like a butterfly really,
it’s electric-blue wings beating lazily,
but one that’s never been a caterpillar.

It’s usually the saxophonist, Chris Potter,
moving arpeggios briskly over the audience,
flute on the encore ‘Are you going
with me’, music from the 80/81 album
written for Dewey Redman and the late
Michael Brecker, the coals of lineage
pressed to Potter’s lips by an angel.

                          As it is, after the drizzle,
in the warm silence of a quarry
overgrown with hazel and Himalayan
balsam, the cataract falling down one corner,
a jay flies to settle on a low branch followed,
as if mobbed, by a blackbird and a thrush.
A man standing as if quietened by the jay’s gaze,

so Metheny, finally sitting, hunched over
the acoustic guitar, quietened the audience
with a medley of ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’,
‘This is not America’, ‘Bright sized Life’,
the love theme from ‘Cinema Paradiso’.


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