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