Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

Day 25

Prompt for today was to write a poem inspired by a song. This is even harder to do well, in my opinion, than an ekphrastic poem, just because music is so ubiquitous and so often repurposed that to do it in a poem seems cliché from the start. And it’s also very easy to come off as a pretentious jackhole, depending on what moves you and why.

So I tried to dodge that by going way back to when my family moved to Louisiana and experienced Mardi Gras for the first time–experienced is probably the wrong word, since we didn’t actually go to parades. We saw it happening at a distance mostly, though my friends brought beads and doubloons to school and I wanted them to an insane degree. And the music–Professor Longhair, The Funky Meters, Doctor John–I couldn’t get enough of it, especially the whistling. I tried to copy it as closely as I could, in secret, because I’d have gotten in trouble for that as badly as if I’d been whistling Christmas carols. Carnival music is so much better though.

Go to the Mardi Gras

I’ve never hit the high note
or trilled the closing riff
like Professor Longhair did,
though I chapped my lips
and wore my jaw out trying.
Never went to St. Claude
and Dumaire because we
didn’t celebrate–Mardi Gras
wasn’t found in our Bible.
No doubloons, Zulu coconuts,
no sitting on rickety ladders
arms stretched for beads.
The Professor said someone
would tell me what Carnival’s for
but I didn’t need explanation.
I tasted it in the piano, the whistle.


April 25, 2010 - Posted by | National Poetry Month, original poetry, Poetic Asides |

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