March 4, 2016

Five Poems By Marianne Lyon: "Ditty", "A Soprano in Lucca", " Major to Minor", "This Little Light of Mine", "Pipe Down"

Marianne has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching In Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews such as Colere 2015, Crone 2015, Trajectory 2014, Earth Daughters 2015, Feile-Festa 2015 Whirlwind 2014-2105. She spends time each year teaching in Nicaragua. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild.  

I close my eyes, breathe the gentle afternoon
attend the cooing wind, when I hear me sing
a little ditty I made up under grandmas
    backyard lilac bush.

I feel the trill forming in my head, born through
puckered mouth, carried by the lusty joy of
vibration—knowing not its destination
    not caring a bit

about metaphor, rhyme, poetry nor verse
words escape—float on sounds growing inside
the song into mutable melodies that
    hum me through the day
letting the notes buzz in button nose, snatching words
devoid of clever sequence, planned dynamic
to be those notes—exploding, shimmering
    riding a current

breathing themselves into invisible shapes    
one then another, not worried how they ring
only the singing, a part of a delicious
    song they cannot see.

A Soprano in Lucca

Lights dim
she stands smiling
I inhale stillness when
a piano glissando enters
the waiting silence  
her lips round
bare shoulders lean
hands dance like
buoyant leaves in tender wind
my eyes close
the aria unravels like a worn sweater
made new again tonight
grow to
a crescendo
set me down
in a place that   
surrenders me into
breathless quiet
my eyes open slowly to her smile
waiting for applause

Major to Minor

Adagio melody untroubled like a lazy stream
phrases skim mossy shore
notes glissando over rocks smooth,
tree shadows crowd over banks
a sudden crescendo— birds
lift like a splash of water thrown at the sky
accelerando—only specks left in the horizon

Measure after measure of major harmonies
sail me away then guide me home
I rest in deep comfort of tonic sonorities
remind me of other brooks
times I floated;  
smelled wild berries hanging thick
sun warming my face  
soft swooshes and gurgles

Slowly the melody modulates
whisks my ears to a distant tremor
I taste dark chords like molasses
rivulet widens, can’t see the rocks
only the churning
hear panicked voices of loved ones;
aching cry of a child taken by the surge
the waves feel like they can swallow the world
melodies unending— a baroque fugue
forcing me to jump into the wild current

Breathing labored
I feel that my heart may stop
when birds appear darning the air
throwing a descant of  husky caws
I release the crease between my eyes
the current softens
my palms open
a decrescendo carries
cradles, rocks
I begin to hear, feel,
remember home.

This Little Light of Mine

From where I stand
they look like a series
of stained glass windows
sparkle and shine when morning sun
slices through cafeteria windows
vibrant patchwork of faces croon
“This little Light of Mine”

Sounds bounce from child to child
notes float as if the air
itself is in rehearsal
whole bodies sing
I think when I hum this song
on a walk, in my garden,
writing this poem
I will be singing them

Slowly clouds shroud
the landscape of the room
shadows swiggle from wiggly forms
blot out luminous faces
distilling them to a mosaic
not dependent on the sun
“Don’t Let Anyone Blow it out”

Luminous hair strums
the ridges of her tiny shoulders
his devilish smile like a half moon
nudges his friends knee
a bumptious grin explodes—
begins in her eyes
spreads everywhere at once
A constellation emerges glimmering
like mirrors slanted toward the sky
bright eyes meet mine
they belt out
“I’m gonna let it shine.”

Pipe Down

Montana blizzards every January
(that is— before global warming)
snow claws up door knobs
school closes for days—yippee
we swipe clean a small pine table
drape a century old blanket
over knotted boards
presto—a covered wagon
red high chair drops on its side
idyllic place to sit, drive the wagon
underneath—saltines, dressed dolls
our small fidgety brother Frankie
pretending he is asleep
our hands clap a silent joy
bounce and whisper
    “We’ll be coming ’round the mountain”

Quiet is a sacrament
Dad and Mom both work night shift
rest during the day
we pantomime—
    “We’ll be driving six white horses”

Fidgeting fingers “eat chicken and dumplings—yum yum”
but once in a while a squeal
grown-up demand for Frankie to go back to sleep
squabble about whose turn to sit up front
    a snore—“Oh we’ll have to sleep with grandma”

Riding on a moist stream of exhale
mom spits “pipe down”
pipe—grandpa played a kind of pipe
water pipe—rusty, exposed by our gate
down—I glare at my hands grasping imaginary reins
but the cacophony—hot noise in her throat
watery shhhh’s whistling through her teeth
an expansive language we understand
phonemes so precise
silence slinks its way around the room
only the din of tiptoes
padding back to the wagon
stiff fingers glued to pursed lips

~Marianne Lyon

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