David Wright
Bach and the Mandolin Boys Meet Herr Goldberg
then Proceed to Philadelphia

(after Mike Marshall and Chris Thiele)

Bach could break your fingers, boys,
       even his tenderest trill, the simplest riff.
Delicate, intimate, he nearly cracks the neck
       of your Dudenbostel.
You have to grip so hard to get high,
       as high as you must at the phrase's end.
A lick you've picked right over and into
       the next tiny trill, and down to the mordant,
That lick, boys, is the one Herr Goldberg loved,
       again and before he ever heard it.
Your bass mandolin could slip right away,
       fall out of your hands so full of their ache.
But you both show such clever resolve. Right there
       in your calluses. When one hand
Gets sore then the other picks up, then two more,
       carry and vary and find your way
From Golberg's house to Charlie Parker's table,
       where you start slow and in unison,
To lick scrapple from your fingers, so sweet,
       so fast you make Bach tap in time.

David Wright's most recent collection of poems is A Liturgy for Stones (Cascadia, 2003). His work appears in The Nimble Spirit Review, Artful Dodge, and Poetry East. He is a past recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for poetry. He stays home with his children in Central Illinois, where his wife practices pediatrics.
Website: http://www.dwpoet.com
More information on David Wright's new book
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