All Songs – Barry Peters

If there really are a finite number
of songs that can be written

with the finite number of tones
our ears can hear, we might fret

over our guitars, smash them
to predictable smithereens.

And if this theory of musical
exhaustion applies to language,

then everything’s been said, or will be said,
by someone, somewhere, soon;

monkeys and typewriters, you pout,
until you recall an outdoor concert

forty years ago. A bandshell
under water-colored dusk.

Count Basie, huddled at the piano,
his hand hovering like a hummingbird

over impatiens. What nerve he had,
lowering a single finger so slowly.

Touching a single key so softly.
Swinging, hallelujah, with just one note.

Barry PetersBarry Peters lives in Durham and teaches in Raleigh, NC. Publications include Best New Poets, New Ohio Review, Poetry East, Rattle, and The Southampton Review.