Tag Archives: Songs

Is she

It is hollow sounding
once struck-
then resonant, tones
that lean and carry
into the next.

Suppressed by pedal
at breathing points,
only to fly in phrasing
and surround-
taking us in.

Suppose we were
to stay, encompassed by
the echo, inside the billow
of the melody

How would we know?
After the first note
we breathe its air-
sway in a joined jive
inside the song.

Even led among
the staves, turning
and taking our time
for crescendos
and kisses.

A new song

I’m sorry, I don’t have a poem today
the fairy-dust magic will not have it’s way.
The dawning is fell
and I don’t take it well
when barbarized don’t cultivate.

I’m sorry, I can’t have a poem today,
the trampled impatiens are flattened and splayed
from steps that were cold-
no words take ahold
to mend it, describe or portray.

I’m sorry, I won’t have a poem today,
the world is too quiet, and I’m led astray
to ponder the pain
of our powerless reign,
while the children go outside and play.

I’m sorry, I shan’t have a poem today
it’s broken and crying, I can’t make it sway.
Perhaps on the morrow
a finch or a sparrow
will sing a new song and allay.

Bird, bees, flowers, trees

The bird that spreads it’s wings to fly
aloft in winds and lullabyes
will often finds a hiding place
with little bustle, subtle grace.

The bee at work, no time to spare-
buzzing, fluttering, from here to there
to stigmas moist with other fare
but not a sound to make aware-

The flower blossomed, spread in view
with pink and yellow, vibrant hues –
and undulating sun and dew
confessed in morning light, anew.

And ever green, the pine tree stands
accepting flight with steady hands.
Each bough abets, make no mistake
and comforts those who stay awake.


There is little left
of thread that ties and undulates
through fabric’d whys.
The whats have gone the wayside now
with time – the when –
don’t ask me how.

This never was infinite string
-ain’t what it used to be,
this thing that stitched my words
in canvas, starched and mended-
just as December ended.

So, with anew, fresh double cloth
the patterns swirl
without the gloss and keep me warm
in thoughts subdued
of music,
sweet – the words are true.

A Brilliant Light


A darkness dwells, just out of sight,
among these brilliant, twinkling lights

and through the house all decked with green
a shadow stalks the verdant scene-

A dimness to the Advent host
pursuing room-to-room to boast

a victory not fought or won,
yet hides in fear, a braggart shunned.

And words of cheer and light revealed
keep gloominess at bay, concealed.

Joyeux Noel thus shared among
us brings to darkness- light- along.

So sing we all in towns and homes
a Christmas song in merry tones,

persuading those from shadows dim
to brilliant light and life with Him.

Writing a Christmas poem is difficult because the themes are so familiar. The difference between light and dark has been on my mind lately, and it seemed a fitting Christmas thought. My hope is to continue writing in 2015, and that you will continue to read.

I attached a clip below sharing Steven Curtis Chapman’s arrangement of O Come O Come Emmanuel, a text which resonates with this poem, but a different melody than typically associated with the song.

Best wishes this holiday season, Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous new year.

Under the strentberry tree

Come, and go wand’ring for churier times,
away from the riptin and rinants, their crime,
the villor and vagell in all their retorts,
The jumb-poling penguity, wanstier sort.

Observe the small paregallow sat on a twig,
that tweets a small tune, with a purintly squig.
Clasp hold my hand without chuberous thought,
and pick up the footspeed, with clip and with clought.

And when we have reached, with flooks and with guills,
the strentberry tree with its tassles and twills,
we’ll lay in the greenier grassles that wave
and meekestly coddle the songs that we saved.

Singing through tassles, and loring through twills
with our hands embraced tightly, and our giggles that thrill
the logus with all its galand and its hue.
Your grin and my smilishness, baylishly soothed.

Come and let’s wander a churier time,
clasp my hand, coddle and purintly rhyme.


Should you be wondering “what does purintly mean,” I used a random nonsense word generator to help me with the words for this poem. The innocence conveyed by the silliness of the word choices was my goal. I often search for the greenier grassles that wave, just to have some quiet time, under a strentberry tree.

words of note

An aubergine sound
and a hollow bitter wind,
that portends of a sadness, lately then,
after the reign of summer’s end
and autumnal color,
red and yellow and their kin.

When joy is moved indoors to stand
the test of winter’s blunting hand,
bound with the melodies to hum
within your heart, with flute and drum.

Seeking clear, in midnight skies, between
the snowfall, when angels fly;
and you, among the ones that seek and pray,
wishing upon the stars to stay
awake and listen to the songs you sing
with words of note for every little, living thing.

Then rest your head and fall asleep
in dark and as lovely as woods are deep,
and echos of your song on air,
warm the bitterness to fair.

late summer canon

I see them gathered
-the yellow susans –
day after day
on the hillside;
struggling to meet the morning sun
-petals flung down
as stretched limbs-
thrusting their faces
toward heaven,
at midday
their arms raised
in praise to a merciful deity,
and in evening
– their buds nodding en masse-
attuned to the canons
of their ancestors.

a cappella Friday: Madrigals

A cappella music (without instrumental accompaniment) is particularly enjoyable for me to listen to. As a poet (and an avocational musician), I am drawn to the similarities that poems and a cappella music have. Lyrical phrasing, meter, rhyming, and onomatopoeia mean so much to a cappella music, because it relies so heavily on the human vocal element.

Yes, I know it is not Friday, but I’ve been working on this idea for a while, inspiration struck, and who am I to argue with the Muse.

A madrigal, it seems, has several definitions.
1. It is short poem, from Medieval times, often about love, and suitable for being set to music.
2. It is a song for two or three unaccompanied voices, developed in Italy in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.
3. It is a polyphonic song using a vernacular text and written for four to six voices, developed in Italy in the 16th century and popular in England in the 16th and early 17th centuries.

Having sung in small groups in my younger years, I remember many of these songs. They had terrific harmonies, moving lines. I never really thought of the lyrics then, but all of these were musical settings of poems. The arguments of poetic forms still occuring then, apparently.

O, that the learned poets of this time
who in a lovesick line so well can speak,
would not consume good wit in hateful rhyme,
but with deep care some better subject find.
For if their music please in earthly things,
how would it sound if strung with heav’nly strings?

The song was published in Orlando Gibbons’s First Set of Madrigals and Motets of 5 parts (1612). A snippet of a recording can be found here, or you can do a search on Spotify or some other internet music source.

Perhaps his best known madrigal is The Silver Swan. A beautiful recording is given here.

The silver Swan, who, living, had no Note,
when Death approached, unlocked her silent throat.
Leaning her breast upon the reedy shore,
thus sang her first and last, and sang no more:
“Farewell, all joys! O Death, come close mine eyes!
More Geese than Swans now live, more Fools than Wise.”

FRANCESCO PETRARCA, 1304-74, better known as just “Petrarch” provided a large trove of the Italian madrigal lyrics. His Canzoniere is a collection of love songs and sonnets. His sonnets are largely credited with saving the form from obscurity. There is a great deal of information about his Muse Laura, and the origins of his poetry.

Early madrigal music dates back to 14th century Italy as a developed two- or three-line verse supported by identical music. Over time, Italian madrigals were recognized as the beginning of “word painting,” the combining of text and music to create a feeling.

*At this time I can’t find an internet recording of the following madrigal to share, but the words in Italian alone are worthy of a read.

Come talora al caldo tempo sòle
semplicetta farfalla al lume avezza
volar negli occhi altrui per sua vaghezza,
onde aven ch’ella more, altri si dole:

cosí sempre io corro al fatal mio sole
degli occhi onde mi vèn tanta dolcezza
che ‘l fren de la ragion Amor non prezza,
e chi discerne è vinto da chi vòle.

E veggio ben quant’elli a schivo m’ànno,
e so ch’i’ ne morrò veracemente,
ché mia vertú non pò contra l’affanno;

ma sí m’abbaglia Amor soavemente,
ch’i’ piango l’altrui noia, et no ‘l mio danno;
et cieca al suo morir l’alma consente.

The Italian is beautiful just in sound alone (it is a Romance language, after all), the English translation (courtesy of http://petrarch.petersadlon.com/canzoniere.html?poem=141) goes like this…

As at times in hot sunny weather
a guileless butterfly accustomed to the light,
flies in its wanderings into someone’s face,
causing it to die, and the other to weep:

so I am always running towards the sunlight of her eyes,
fatal to me, from which so much sweetness comes
that Love takes no heed of the reins of reason:
and he who discerns them is conquered by his desire.

And truly I see how much disdain they have for me,
and I know I am certain to die of them,
since my strength cannot counter the pain:

but Love dazzles me so sweetly,
that I weep for the other’s annoyance, not my hurt:
and my soul consents blindly to its death.

The form evolved over the years and by the 16th century consisted of a refined four to six parts, offering twelve lines of lyric verse with love, desire, humor, satire, politics, or pastoral scenes as the theme. Gibbons and Sir Thomas Morley (1557-1602) are among the more prolific writer/composers of the period.

My bonnie Lass she smileth

When she my heart beguileth. Fa la. . . . .
Smile less, dear love, therefore
And you shall love me more. Fa la. . . . .
When she her sweet eye turneth
O how my heart it burneth! Fa la. . . . .
Dear love, call in their light,
Or else you’ll burn me quite! Fa la. . . .

Finally, the madrigal has been parodied, quite successfully

Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach) penned “My Bonnie Lass, She Smelleth” as a parody of Morley’s “My Bonnie Lass She Smileth”

My bonnie lass, she smelleth,
Making the flowers Jealouth.
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass dismayeth
Me; all that she doth say ith:
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass; she looketh like a jewel
And soundeth like a mule.
My bonnie lass; she walketh like a doe
And talketh like a crow.
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass liketh to dance a lot;
She’s Guinevere and I’m Sir Lancelot.
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass I need not flatter;
What she doth not have doth not matter.
Oo la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass would be nice,
Yea, even at twice the price.
Fa la la (etc.)

Singing Hey Nonny Nonny Nonny No.