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Fredrick Zydek

Electronic Musicians

      --for Michael Glennon

We're no longer talking about amplified guitars,
flutes with microphones on them or electric pianos.
We're talking sound modules and sampled digital
texts, Steinway grands and Stradivarius violins at our
fingertips, cathedral choirs and Moog synthesizer
blips just waiting for a flick or two of our wrists.

Vibraphones and broken saws, tinkling glass, thin
slices of celestial balm, thick growls from the primordial
gut, echoes and translucent strings, notes that bend
like willows in the wind -- all waiting to strut their stuff
or slip slow and silvery into what the drums of the ear
translate into sacred sound. The ritual of the savage

lives in these notes as surely as the gray things we will
one day call our future. These intonations are born
in the same shadows as the little lights that sometimes
become our prayers. They are many-sided, a cross
between the double helix of the DNA and a finger's
chance encounters with ivory and black enameled keys.

You and I are their enablers, the reasons they kindle
from the nothingness and shiver into life. We become
their alpha and omega, their beginning and their end,
the hands that take auditory clay and mold it into beings
of liquid sounds that spin into existence like wind down
a desolate street, like new suns waking to claim their light.

A Few More Lines for the Moon

You are the dream flying in from the sea,
the wind's mother, the lump of space-stuff
that tells the oceans what to do. It's hard
to believe you have no light of your own,
that what you send our way was never yours

in the first place. Still, we go on giving you
names as if the fires you send our way were
spun by your own secret longings. Blue
Moon, Harvest Moon, Moon Over Miami,
Moon of Geese Flying, New Moon, Full

Moon, Moon of Deep Snow. You become
benchmark and postscript to our history.
We plant potatoes and fish for bass based
upon your posture in the celestial realm. We
write songs to celebrate your mysters, plan

vacations at your whim, try to see into our
futures by what we think the stars are saying
about you. But there is more to you than
reflected light and gravitational pull. There is
the certain magic when two drawn together.

walk arm in arm beneath you, the way barren
trees take on new elegance when you slip
among them, and the photo of the orangutan
pondering the small circle of light hanging
in the night sky above his nest in the branches.

Ailanthus - the Tree of Heaven

You're probably wondering how this tree
got its name. Its soft wood is too weak
to build either homes or weapons, and its
flowers and leaves own one of the most

disagreeable odors in the forest. Its fruit,
looking like miniature airplanes, is only
good to eat if you're a squirrel, chipmunk
or bird who can't find a walnut tree, a stalk

of wheat or a nice fat worm. A coniferous
purist will tell you this tree takes up too
much room, is actually a weed and good
for nothing except taking up space. A native

of china, it can grow as much as ten feet
in a single season and will take root in soil
so poor not even dandelions can grow there.
One wonders in Neanderthals named it as

some sort of joke. (Look! There's a tree of
heaven. Ha, ha, ha.)
I think not. the juices
of this tree are so flammable, any freshly cut
branch or chunk will burst into flame almost

as fast as you can tinder it. If you were a hunter-
gatherer looking for a nest to camp in at night,
the tree of Ailanthus was your insurance of fire,
protection from carnivores, and a good hot meal.

©2007 by Fredrick Zydek

Fredrick Zydek is the author of eight collections of poetry. Takopachuk: the Buckley Poems is forthcoming from Winthrop Press later this year. Formerly a professor of creative writing and theology at the University of Nebraska and later at the College of Saint Mary, he is now a gentleman farmer when he isn't writing. He is the editor for Lone Willow Press, his his poetry has previously been published in Slow Trains Volume 5, Issue 3.

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