Then there’s that part of the brain that speaks in Chopin,
at least my brain, that, at least, listens
in Chopin, whose light-piercing tones–
notes that lift the heart, that dance the bones–
reverberate in loss, incipient,
past, lasting. The brain, made pliant
by the beauty of the song–
the brain that sways its hands along,
bends at its waist, rises on lobes’ toes–
finds itself unlocked by those
toqued keys, slides from arms’ bed
into the flowered mound at coffined head
of a friend, lost–  And how can I be here
and she be gone?  And how can fair be fair?

Except that all will join her soon enough,
or him–that’s you and me and them–no matter how tough
our resistance, how unalloyed
our letting go.  This moment’s would-be joy
can’t swallow the leaded rune,
and the brain’s stretched hands that just had traced the tune
in air, affecting grace, now cover the brain’s face–
or cover anyway that space
inside the brain–that part that hears
a minor croon in every music of the spheres,
that part that weeps
in what sweeps
it along, as if grief were its duty
to beauty, pleasure, life waylaid–
the price that must be paid.



Here’s a drafty poem–I call it that because just written–for my own prompt on With Real Toads about Dr. Oliver Sacks.  (Funny pic is mine; bust of Chopin–my husband’s.) 

I attach below a video (really audio) of Dinu Lipatti playing a Chopin Nocturne.  Lipatti, one of the most wonderful Chopin pianists, died, like Chopin, at a very young age (in his thirties.)

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11 Comments on “Exchange”

  1. coalblack Says:

    “as if grief were its duty”…wow @ that line. I like your treatment of the musical theme you mentioned in your challenge.

  2. X Says:

    I guess it all comes down to what music we are choosing to listen to. I change mine like moods. I have a veritable juke box between the ears of songs I have etched in the vinyl.

    fair is a construct we built in an effort to give ourselves the power over judgement. we equate it to equal. which is another lie.

  3. I most love “This moment’s would-be joy / can’t swallow the leaded rune, / and the brain’s stretched hands that just had traced the tune”. This poem puts me in mind of how the people in Awakenings responded to music. This was a cool prompt, Karin.

  4. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    The brain in all its complex ways of digesting info, collating memory, interpreting experience through emotion – it is such a vast platform, but you have conveyed so much in these lines, the stands of musical notes that may tie one to a time, place or person and the regretful tone with which you contemplate loss is very effective.

  5. Brendan Says:

    The brain I think understands the music of the spheres because it finds human language far short of all that the mind communicates — like dreams, music is the wet part of the sea that can’t or won’t be named. Why do we love to listen to Chopin blues? Because there are registers in here that only talk that way. When Ariel artfully induces the king’s company on Prospero’s magic island to reveal what they are, it is with a high, sweet music — a delightful, confounding, almost devilish sound. A price must be paid — but o how willingly we fork it up. Loved it.

  6. I adore your brain! 🙂 I am a Chopin enthusiast. Grew up listening to his music through my dad who is a pianist. Great poem.

    Greetings from London.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Well, you are very sweet, Cubano. I think that that mournful feeling is present in many musics–but Chopin (whom I just love) felt particularly emblematic. Thanks as always. k.

      On Sun, Sep 20, 2015 at 7:28 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  7. hedgewitch Says:

    The sensory interpretation of the outer world, the heartbreaking knowledge of the inner world, are not perhaps ever best expressed or absorbed in speech, but in a purer language that can’t be twisted or manipulated–the music that has such power to heal, to reconcile, and to express what can;t be either–a very creative and original look at the topic–and a very densely packed and universal topic it is–life, heart, loss, death, beauty–all the things that make us human. I especially love the ending lines following from ‘This moment’s would-be joy/can’t swallow the leaded rune…’

  8. Marian Says:

    This poem is quite musical, itself. Twisty & turny.

  9. I have synesthesia, so I appreciated “the part of the brain that speaks Chopin.” Yes. This is an elegant piece; the afterword about the pianist, and his playing, an added plus. Thanks@ Amy

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