Sergei’s Hands – Jack Ritter

Dear Sergei,
your concerto number three
can fill a concert hall with confident grace
until minute six when it swoops down from the ceiling
in a surprise attack to steal breath away

will-of-steel mortician
in usual box seat
who can rig a corpse while whistling
is suddenly crying like a viola
what’s happening here?

the second movement’s percussive tats
send the war vet in fourth row center
back to that theatre of war where his buddy’s
opened throat cried out
its vocal cords being sawed this time
by rosined bow of second cello
piano wire would have been faster
the third movement will bring wings that carry him home

your shocking fortissimo spasms conquer
a music teacher in cheap balcony seat
she teaches Old Macdonald’s to kids
she becomes what she hears
and now she’s crying
as notes from your warrior hands
strike her ear drums raw like taut kettles

perhaps you suffered greatly, Sergei
with your lovers and your moods
you hold decades of tears
in your giant hands
with their unreproducible chords
tell us where your hands are now
the tears are ours
we want them back

Jack RitterJack Ritter writes poetry, flash fiction, and comedy. He is a video games programmer by trade. He has published original computer animation algorithms, as well as poetry and flash fiction. He currently creates and sells large format digital art prints. His website is