Nathaniel S. Rounds

There’s an old elephant
Wheezing song like a gummed-up harmonica
Outside the GUNS and PIANOS
They call him Mephibosheth
Used to perform in a small circus
He was injured in transit
Made him nervous from chronic pain
He had already been a teenage hypochondriac
He read medical journals with a flashlight
Under the covers
Came across a lovely article about
Behavioural Management of Hypochondriasis
And it stuck with him
Like everything did

After the transport truck hit his left side
He tried to divert himself by listening to Dmitri
Shostakovich but
The man was incomprehensible
So he listened to his music instead
They sat there in the Brattleboro retreat
Feet sharing tub water with torpedo fish
A phonograph playing a nice little waltz
In a Yiddish style
Simmering on the turntable like mother’s soup
Ladled out with equal amount of love and passive aggression

Mephibosheth and Dmitri had this conversation
The music was their interpreter
They would sneak into the retreat tower
With a keyboard and Mephibo’s trunk-as-trump’
Play some American-Russian patchwork of
Against the rants written on the stone walls
Piano and trumpet weeping and laughing
Against and in harmony with

Teachers are anointed censors and controllers
Dispensers of secular catechism
Turning bright minds into toiling hands
Drawing the blind on God’s infinite sunshine

Upon their discharge
They zigzagged around the country side
The Connecticut River their companion
Windows rolled down as the autumn leaves fell
Like confetti over them

And orange like a sunset

And you may say that Dmitri was never there
But his thoughts and his music are invested
In the old elephant’s memory
And he blows them out
And draws them back in
Drawing the curious from passersby

©2012 This work is the property of the author.


Posted on March 24, 2012, in Nathaniel S. Rounds, POETRY and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I love Nathaniel’s world. I’m slowly making my way to the edge of the town. Maybe they’ll let me sleep in the asylum’s pantry if I make fried bananas for the inmates.

    Have a look at Nathaniel’s LENNY: MUSIC PRODUCER AND SOUND PIONEER. It has a pioneering companion video.


    If you head to his bio on the Poets’ Page, you’ll find links to two of his books, both available for free download.

  2. m lewis redford

    ‘Simmering on the turntable like mother’s soup’ – brilliant line.

    I need to try this poem on some more – I think I know where the shoulders go but there are odd rucks and some bits seem inside out, but I’m sure it will hang fine. I don’t want to put it back on the rail

  3. A wonderfully moving euphony of a musical poem. As someone who met Dimitri and his beautifully voiced Galina at a recital reception this brought me back to the applause.

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