Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Earthquake, with Forty Pianos

To honor those in New Zealand, where the Tuesday Poem blog originates, whose lives were impacted by the recent earthquake there, we've been asked to post an earthquake poem, if possible....

Earthquake, with Forty Pianos

No mere measure, more

a minute waltz, over

before you ponder, on your back

beneath 500 pounds of maple

and tilting ivory. Perhaps

better judgment would have kept you

home at 2am, safer than this

basement receptacle of pianoforte.

Above you three stories

of brick upon brick upon rafter, creaking

as the wood floor slowly rolls,

tips from one end -- a planked wave –

to its opposing wall. For a flash

you imagine standing

on a floating log, balance uncertain,

the only definable sound

like someone clearing his throat

for a moment that reeled away

off the known edge of the earth.

No time to consider the years

stacked up like sounding boards

into your future. You dance step

a polka, a jig, a mambo,

you fox-trot it between veering pianos

to the brick-arched doorway,

certain all should have collapsed

upon you. Your jitterbug nerves

plunk out their own terrible beat

in the oncoming silence, in the grand

and holy presence of forty pianos

wholly unharmed. Each

of the 9,200 steel-wire strings

zinging, zinging, zinging.

--For Tom Porter, piano tuner

copyright 2010 T. Clear


  1. Wow. What an image - those 40 pianos! the 'zinging, zinging, zinging' - I feel all zingy just having read it... thanks T Clear!

  2. What a wonderful poem, T Clear--the image of 40 enormous and enormously complicated instruments as stand-ins for us? The weight and movement of the actual pianos is extraordinary,