Here he dances with death.
The dance is quiet and slow, stately yet affectionate.
After all, they know each other well.
An orphan at ten, his own children
dropping like flies, then his beloved Maria,
and he himself shortly to be murdered
by the same quack eye doctor
who would also get away with killing the other
genius of the Baroque, Handel.
In this mesmerizing middle movement, though,
the body count falls away as we count
notes and steps in a progression
that is at once inevitable and surprising.
My heart quakes at the impossible
beauty of it, and even more at how easily
this could have been one of the many scores
lost forever after his passing,
one-third of everything he ever wrote
sold as scrap paper to wrap fish.
His own sons, not one of whom was fit
to empty his final chamber pot, thought their
father’s music was overwrought, turgid, passé.
Death politely disagrees. And so
the dance continues, with Glenn Gould
and numberless others cutting in to give the cantor
of St. Thomas Church a much-needed rest.
(First published in Clover, a Literary Rag)
Kurt Luchs has poems published or forthcoming in Into the Void, Triggerfish Critical Review, Right Hand Pointing, Roanoke Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Antiphon, Emrys Journal, and The Sun Magazine, among others, and won the 2017 Bermuda Triangle Poetry Prize. He founded the literary humor site TheBigJewel.com, and has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television (Politically Incorrect and the Late Late Show) and radio (American Comedy Network). Sagging Meniscus Press recently published his humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny), which has been nominated for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. His poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, is forthcoming. More of his work, both humor and poetry, can be found at kurtluchs.com.