Gloomy Sunday

Rezsõ Seress made a song
out of shoelaces and melancholy
that soon became the anthem
for those who swam into its melody
and never returned.
The Danube pursed its lips for them.
Sheet music floated

on the surface of the water.
Was it sad? It was sad
enough to make a Gypsy band
as lethal as a firing squad.
In translation, Gloomy Sunday donned its hood

in London where it dispensed
barbiturates, in Berlin
where it slung a rope
that swayed in rhythm with the scratched
voice from a vinyl disc,
while in Rome it snared a boy

listening to a beggar sing
so cloudily he gave the man his money
and waved back from the bridge
above the river. The beauty
of the song drove governments

to censorship so no more lives
should snap with violin strings
tuned to a minor key.
For thirty-five winters the Budapest
skies mixed ice with steel

until even the composer
could take no more. His window
shivered in its frame
when he opened it: a man
with one song, a bird
with one wing.

< Back | Slow Trains Contents | Melancholy's Architecture Contents | Other Chapbooks | Next >