Category Archives: Issue No. 8: Table Music as Poetry and Prose

PROLOGUE

From within a museum gallery, a view of patrons walking and sitting in a garden outsideThe title, “Table Music,” is borrowed from Telemann. When I read it, I thought how so many things that arise in life recur later in our thoughts. We pick them up and consider them again and again without ever reaching a final conclusion. The people and places that inhabit memory unfold with us, sometimes within life and sometimes purely in mind—as with the dead who are present nonetheless, part of our being. History is a meta-narrative of many strands, Hayden White argued, and each strand puts forward an individual point of view. Think of “Table Music,” then, as a contribution to this genre in poetry and prose.  (2 August 2015, Berkeley)

POETRY

A view down into the courtyard of a ruined castle, with tourists.

Witness
All else that can’t be said is written.
Backs of envelopes in old steamer trunks
for the executors to mine, smitten
by the prospect of affairs, those drunks
ambling along sidewalks in anecdotes:
the muse puts up with this—with how it is
when writers sit down to write. Then she smotes
some handy object, the muse, that this biz
floats past her, isn’t safely bottled up.
Everything that can’t be said is uncorked
to fill glasses and still more glasses. Yup,
they toast the many times a straight road forked.
The muse looks glumly on. Plot’s familiar,
she thinks. Forks are closer than they first appear.

PROSE

Diners in a restaurant with subdued lighting

After Waking
In a dream, an older man goaded him: “Are you good?” “No,” he answered, but the man wanted a more robust response. “Not really bad,” he ventured. Waking, he thought that love—physical love—was an addiction, so any sudden rupture of it was like crashing. He replayed the worst such crash, remembering how she’d weighed him against another, reducing what was between them to a litmus test.