The piano is in need of tuning
so it can be played in key
music is my first love
rock opera symphony
I love music sheets tucked inside the seat
of piano stool beneath
music soft music loud music beautiful
uplifting and complete
Dissonance: off key
jangles discord—clang clang
the music chaotic bitter sharp
air disturbed—bang bang
Black keys and white keys
wait proud and still
for the piano tuner’s lever
(here he comes up the hill)
He plays sotto voce
presto forte staccato allegro
adagio tosto tutti vivace
tenerezza eco o o o o oh
A tonic in tune once more
affettuoso read the score
come play me piano implores
Published in Girl’s Got Rhythm by Black Pear Press 2012 and reprinted 2016. Reposted for Poetics – Under the Influence of Music, a prompt from Anthony Desmond, 2014, at dversepoets.
Sotto voce: in an undertone
Presto: very fast
Forte: loud; strong
Staccato: brief; detached
Tosto: swift; rapid
Tutti: all; everyone
Eco: echo; an effect in which a group of notes is repeated
07/05/2012 at 15:58
I tried to learn how to play a guitar.
Sadly, I failed miserably. From that day onwards I’ve a new found respect for guitarists, pianists and anyone who can play an instrument.
I loved the poem !
07/05/2012 at 16:03
Thank you Sanah, I am pleased you enjoyed it 🙂
07/05/2012 at 17:18
It is a pleasure for me to nominate you for The Versatile Blogger Award. Please go to my post of May 7 for more information, and also visit http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/
I look forward to reading more on your blog.
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07/05/2012 at 18:11
thank you so much, Alex, I’ m honoured. Don’t quite know what to say except thank you.
07/05/2012 at 18:12
You are more than welcome – you have a beautiful blog 🙂
07/05/2012 at 18:32
I believe you have just captured the words of my poor neglected Baby Grand sitting lonely in my living room…
Lovely piece. I could almost hear that piano tuner at work. 🙂
07/05/2012 at 18:37
Oh, Carrie, if my piano tuner were to read this I’d have such a telling off – as you know, they consider it inexcusable!!!
07/05/2012 at 18:44
Well, we’ll both be in for a verbal lashing then!
07/05/2012 at 18:48
heh-heh – you are a scream!
27/05/2012 at 08:57
Thought you’d like to know, I’ve just put an audio of First Love into the post …
27/05/2012 at 14:29
27/05/2012 at 14:30
Oh good, you’ve seen it – thought you’d like to as you’ve been enthusiastic about the others
08/05/2012 at 00:00
Ah the memories, Polly. I used to dream of owning a white baby grand. LOL
Played lots of Beethoven in my younger days. You said it … first love 😉
09/05/2012 at 17:14
Oooh, a white baby grand – do you remember Liberace? 🙂
09/05/2012 at 22:21
Yes! They had a museum for him in Vegas but I heard it recently closed. I toured the museum twice and quote and talk about him in my book. As a matter of fact I asked for permission to use the quote and was in contact with his foundation.
I hear someone is making, or made, a movie about him. 🙂
09/05/2012 at 22:46
Oh, those candelabras!
09/05/2012 at 23:03
And all that bling,
09/05/2012 at 23:08
… and the cheesy smile 🙂
08/05/2012 at 01:17
Bravo! I love your fortissimo ! Thank you Polly~ Sincerely Deborah
08/05/2012 at 05:00
Thank you kindly Deborah – glad you enjoyed it
08/05/2012 at 01:49
Wow! Polly – if this is not a poem written to be PERFORMED then I don’t know what is. I have read it aloud to the cat three times, with relevant emphasis, elongation of certain words, volume and tone (I hope) and she was rapt! Bangles is a very reliable arbiter of poetry. 😉
08/05/2012 at 05:04
Hmmm … is my pronunciation up to it? Our house would be like Much Practising in the Marsh for days before a performance!
J’aime que les thought of you reading it to Bangles cat [who now moves marginally into my better books for being a good arbiter] and for reading it not once but THREE times!
Thanks for the comments Holly 🙂
08/05/2012 at 11:36
I am sure your pronunciation is more that up to it! 🙂
27/05/2012 at 08:48
OK, I’ve made the audio … will look forward to seeing what you think of it …
28/05/2012 at 02:20
Blimey! Even the cat looked up at the “presto forte…” line! Seriously – well done. I love the lifts and falls of the piece and you read it very much as I’d imagined. Fab.
28/05/2012 at 05:07
Ah-ha! Good news! I did wonder about Bangles [or as I think of him/her Bojangles] – hoped for approval from my main arbiter 🙂 That was my biggest voice, but then it was for forte!
Thanks for coming back to it and commenting 🙂
28/05/2012 at 16:26
It’s a poem that merits revisiting. One that sticks in the mind and more so with your reading of it.
I’ve noticed at spoken word events there are some poets who read and some who perform… and both approaches work for different things. This though is most definitely one you’ve PERFORMED and I love it. I think it’s actually one of my favourites of yours.
My piano teacher was a dusty old man though…
16/10/2014 at 07:41
I love the description of your piano teacher as a dusty old man, Holly 🙂 Thanks for coming back to add a bit more on your thoughts x
09/05/2012 at 06:49
Polly, I’m a pianist and singer, so this one got me, right on the heartstrings, which I do try to keep in tune…! Loved the rhyme scheme and all the classical references. You really know your field! I’m a self-taught jazz player, and truly appreciate those who know the terminology and who flat-out love the piano! Thanks so much. Peace, Amy
09/05/2012 at 09:18
Ah, Amy, I once was both … but a long time ago now! I took piano lessons in my salad days and loved it, still have an (untuned, as above) piano today but play it rarely and not well. I found the terminology intriguing and roll-around-the-mouthable as a child, it is so evocative and memorable one never forgets it once learned.
I still sing but no longer in a choir – I won awards for singing in my school days, though you’d never believe it if you heard me now! I’ve been known to embarrass my other half by going for it at parties with karaoke (!) He always says ‘that was lovely’ with a slight flush to his cheeks 🙂
Thank you for your reply, so pleased you enjoyed the poem.
10/05/2012 at 22:03
Being able to play the piano or any other musical instrument is a gift that should be cherished. You are very lucky to have that gift for music, Polly. Keep on playing. How I wish I could… 😉
10/05/2012 at 23:06
Perhaps when the piano is tuned, Malou 🙂
Many thanks for your reply, so pleased you enjoyed the poem.
11/05/2012 at 14:02
Didn’t have time to comment when I first read this, Polly, but I really enjoyed it. As in one of the comments above, it made me want to read it aloud – especially the discordant verse! Great use of sounds.
And I’d LOVE to be able to play the piano.
11/05/2012 at 14:27
Thank you Lindsay – as you’ll have seen, I don’t play so much these days but still love it – glad you liked the discordant verse, that pleases me immensely 🙂
15/10/2014 at 15:51
brings back a lot of memories to me of growing up…my mom played….my sister played…so most afternoons I would listen to them practice…and the old man that used to tune our piano was blind…was so cool watching him rely on his other senses….
15/10/2014 at 18:21
Cheers Brian–how wonderful is poetry? Always a surprise to bring back memories of others. Thanks for commenting–I’ve heard of blind piano tuners though I’ve never personally known one.
15/10/2014 at 16:22
I do miss having a piano – abandoned it once I left my parents’ home and have never had the space to be reunited with it since.
How the melodious Italian words fit with the musical descriptions!
15/10/2014 at 23:05
I was the same until I was bought one as a Christmas gift–what a joy to rediscover it–one day I’ll take lessons again as I fear my playing’s quite rusty now.
Italian is a wonderful language, such a musical language–thanks for your comments, Marina 🙂
15/10/2014 at 16:35
My mother played the piano, but we moved so often in my youth, the pianos did not follow. Some of us are not singers, nor musicians–but we are poets, appreciators, audiences, participators–your response is apt, bang on, tackling the prompt like a football guard; really enjoyed it.
15/10/2014 at 23:08
Funny how we all seem to miss the piano when we’ve had one at home.
Glad you enjoyed ‘First Love’, Glenn, I like that you think the prompt was tackled ‘like a football guard’–cool 🙂
15/10/2014 at 17:27
Groovy piece. Love the third stanza.
15/10/2014 at 23:13
Is it the musical terms that ‘do it’ for you, I wonder…thank you for commenting.
15/10/2014 at 17:50
I do love listening to a great piano player; I, myself, prefer to play string instruments (guitar & ukulele)… this piece certainly carried out the richness of a fine-tuned piano…. smiles
15/10/2014 at 23:15
Thanks Anthony–I’ve always meant to take up guitar, had an acoustic one once but my mother couldn’t bear it so it had to go. Smashing prompt, thank you.
15/10/2014 at 18:24
OH! i love the piano.. and your words are tempting me to lift the cover.. and once again.. immerse my fingers.. with ivory.. and now plastic keys…in electronic way.. of amplifying play!
Ah.. but all the lessons.. trapped me.. until one day.. i set them free…
and finAlly separated from sheet music..
piano and me.. TOGETHER!
finAlly made love in FREE!
15/10/2014 at 23:16
heh-heh–cool response, thanks.
15/10/2014 at 18:48
this made me wanna get up and on my piano and play… i haven’t for quite a bit…
15/10/2014 at 23:16
Oh, go on, Claudia…you know you want to 🙂
15/10/2014 at 19:34
I have not played in a long time but the time the tuner came.. that blind man who was better than anyone else to hear… that I remember.. Love how you weaved in the musical terms.
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15/10/2014 at 23:09
Wow…you’re the second person to mention a blind piano tuner–good to see you enjoyed the musical terms 🙂
15/10/2014 at 22:13
… and mine is REALLY in need of tuning after 25 years.
15/10/2014 at 23:10
heh-heh…if you have central heating, that, plus the years, will be the cause (!)
You did make me giggle 🙂
15/10/2014 at 22:26
A lovely voice of the piano ~ My daughter plays the piano so I can empathize with the black and keys wanting to be tuned up to play ~ Enjoyed this one Polly ~
15/10/2014 at 23:11
Thanks Grace – how wonderful that your daughter plays – hope she keeps it up, unlike some of the commentators on this post 🙂
15/10/2014 at 22:33
There’s nothing more inspiring and motivating than having one’s piano tuned and feeling it sounds so right, you want to play all day.
15/10/2014 at 23:12
So true, Michael. Once mine’s been tuned I’m more likely to tickle the ivories 😉
16/10/2014 at 00:50
I do not know whether you got my first comment. I greatly admire those who can play an instrument. Wondering whether you have played much since the tuner’s visit.
16/10/2014 at 01:33
Hi Gabriella, I can’t see a previous comment from you, so thanks for leaving this one. Music’s a wonderful thing, a thing of beauty 🙂 I don’t play too much at the mo, but want to get back into it once I’ve moved house and settled. I dare say the piano will need tuning again when that happens! 🙂
16/10/2014 at 02:25
I took piano lessons as a kid and sort of enjoyed it but not enough to continue it as an adult. Your poem almost inspired me to rethink that……smiles.
16/10/2014 at 06:42
Aw…only ‘almost’ Mary? 😉
Loved piano lessons as a child, then discovered boys…
16/10/2014 at 02:30
Piano words are themselves musical, and the poor piano tuner-/ they seem endlessly in pain to me. A lot of fun here, Polly. K.
16/10/2014 at 06:45
You know, you have something there k *muses*…they do seem to be particularly *muses*…something-or-other… 😉
16/10/2014 at 02:58
You brought back the visual for me of sheet music under the piano seat. Wow, I had forgotten….and I cannot forget the metronome keeping time as I practiced. It’s been a long time…..thanks for bringing back the memories!
16/10/2014 at 06:53
Eeek…the metronome! It used to scare me when my music teacher got that out, yet she told me I was one of her ‘better pupils’ – praise indeed from a dour Scot. I’d forgotten that until reading your comment – thanks – you made me smile 🙂
16/10/2014 at 18:10
beautifully woven, Polly~
16/10/2014 at 18:26
So pleased to see you liked ‘First Love’, thank you for commenting, Yelena.
19/10/2014 at 06:32
Well played Polly – bellissimo, but I have to confess that I expected to hear you tickling the ivories during your otherwise very authentic reading.
19/10/2014 at 20:40
Thanks Mike, for both reading and listening to ‘First Love’ – it didn’t occur to me to tickle the ivories (!) I’m not sure that I’m that good – but thanks for the thought and I’ll consider it 🙂
24/10/2014 at 11:32
Just lovely this one Polly…very clever! 🙂
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25/10/2014 at 08:10
Thanks Di, glad you enjoyed ‘First Love’–it was fun recalling the musical terms 🙂