“The Concerto I Composed…” by William Doreski

William Doreski


The concerto I composed last night
in memory of you requires
foghorn, bullhorn, trumpet, kazoos
and a dozen whoopee cushions.
You say you’re not dead yet? Wait
until you hear this concerto,
which will premiere at Lincoln Center
next week, outside on the plaza
after the opera lovers go home.

It opens allegro non troppo
with a rousing whoopee chorus,
then turns adagio with a solo
of wino weeping through the bullhorn,
then concludes andante as kazoos
exploit the sentimental mood
created by the first two movements.
No one will survive except
the wino, who will encore

with a vodka bottle playing
“Home Sweet Home” while his breath lasts.
Reviewed by the New York police,
my concerto will make you famous
even as your shriven soul ascends
to its reward amid the hailstorms.
You doubt that such a composition
actually requires composing?
Look at these sheets of music paper

corrupt with slips of the pen
and engrained with deep erasures.
This work culminates a lifetime
of musical ignorance. Be sure
to attend the premiere. Beware
of merely imitative noises,
and be sure to wear your favorite shroud,
which John Donne wore when threatened
with someone reading his poems aloud.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010

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