[EXCERPT 1: “My mother is playing the piano” FROM THE NEW BOOK] As promised, I am posting –herewith & hereunder– the first excerpt of my new book, “THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED” (working title). The book itself is finished; I am currently in the middle of calligraphing the text (–unfortunately there were severe disruptions in this past month–the hacking, the illness of a dear friend, etc. By the way, I will be reading selections at the Snug Harbor Fence show tomorrow, between 1.00 and 5.00pm.

THE FIRST POSTING IS OF THE OPENING SECTION OF MY POEM (I hope you enjoy it.)

“1. COBH, IRELAND, 1940: AN EARLY MEMORY
OF A 3–YEAR OLD BOY –A SUNNY ROOM;
MY MOTHER IS PLAYING THE PIANO…

I remember:

I am a young boy
–not quite three years old–
standing at the open window
of the dining room. Outside,
a garden, flowers, a small lawn; beyond,
a line of trees, a glimpse of sea.

Inside, the room is filled with the
cascading sounds of piano music
–my mother is playing (–Chopin.)
Outside, bright summer sunlight
shines through new green leaves.
The very air seems to sparkle.

Our house is in Cobh, a small seaside
town on an island in Cork Harbor
on the south coast of Ireland.
Close by is the ancient City of Cork,
(founded 590 A.D.) on the River Lee
which flows past Cobh, into the harbor
and on into the Atlantic.

In this poem of memory I am the
youngest of four children –my two
younger brothers are as yet unborn.
The year is 1940 –remembered from
2008, a lifetime later, more or less.
(Less, of course, if I am to be precise.)

My mother is playing the piano.
Her music is a force of nature
–loud; fast; scintillating.
Her cascade of precise notes is
a flowing river of music.

2. HER MUSIC FILLS THE ROOM;
IT FILLS THE HOUSE…

Her music fills the air
it fills the room
it fills the house
it spills out of the open window
and into the garden;
it sweeps across the lawn
and up into the trees.
It rises through the air;
it merges with the sunlight.
Sound & light, fused. To a 3 year old
it is invisible but quite palpable.

She plays with passion.
Her playing is a force of nature
Hers is the music of confidence,
the music of bold statement.

Before she begins, she prepares in silence.
(–musician, compose thyself.)
Her fingers interwoven and stretching:
she is about to crack her knuckles
and I am bracing myself.

The music book before her has a
dense, crowded look: the page is dark
with heavy clusters of black notes.
(Other pages are lighter, sparser;
–they look… quieter; more reflective.]

Then she begins to play, plunging in with
great energy; a powerful expression;
the music of expression.

Later, a sigh. She stops. I turn to look;
a difficult passage; she is replaying it.
She gets it right and moves on.
I look back to the trees.

3. I KNOW THIS MUSIC WELL…

Despite my young age I know
her music well; have heard
her play it countless times.
Not only do I know this piece
but I know the one that will follow it:
I anticipate it in my mind; “hear” it in the
brief silence before it actually begins.

I know her music like I know the weather
–all the moods of our local island-Atlantic-
harbor weather –those early mists and
the soft rains that arrive so quietly,
hesitantly. But insistently

Or dramatic Atlantic storms –night concerts,
in open-air: roaring waters, crashing waves,
sway-dip-wildly-thrashing tree-branches,
wind gusts bang-shut our attic doors,
cathedral-bell peals fade in the gale,
in the howling turbulent air.
Night thunder –now faraway, now overhead.
Startling cracks! Echoes rumble across
the vault of heaven. Lightening flashes on
ghostly skies. Exciting weather.

Or the slow movements of a Harbor Fog.
dense, muffled, mysterious…fogbound,
fogblind, fogbleat, fognight, fogwarn.
Harbored fogmoan, mournful fog;
foghorns moaning their mournful songs
to ships that pass; slipping by, by night.

Now the piano storm passes. Calm.
Becalm.The softer sounds are soothing.

At first those unaccustomed names were
strange sounds to my young Irish ears–
bay toe van; show-pan.
But the names become familiar:
her mediation conveys their specialness,
their importance to her as she reads
their symbols and gives them voice.
(It is a voice of passion; of compassion.)

4. AT HOME: MUSIC IN A SUNNY, TRANQUIL
ROOM. OUTSIDE, WORLD WAR II BEGINS.

Again, I am standing at
the open window of this poem.
Now I notice –or recall– a new detail:
the bush of dog-rose just outside.
Its delicate rose perfume
suffuses the air, adding its
fragrance to the sound and the light.

Piano sound of music;
rose perfume;
sunlight –dappling through
the light-green leaves–
a delicate triangle
is fused in my young mind.
It fills me with a feeling of well-being;
being in harmony, being in tune.
Tuned in. Being “attuned”.

I remember telling myself: this moment
–here, now– this feels…right!
[THIS must be how everyone feels,
I tell myself. Finally –at age 3– I get it!]

That would have been on a Sunday–
after dinner, early afternoon.
As my mother plays, my father sits,
eyes closed. It is a sunny, tranquil world.

But outside –beyond the window and the
the thorn-hedged garden wall, the
line of trees and Cobh’s steep hills,
down to the Water’s Edge;beyond DeValera’s
war-neutral harbor (–its Martello Forts still on
Napoleon-Alert—) it is but a short channel-
crossing, to fearful, un-tranquil, Dunkirk.

There, at Dunkirk, an army of desperate British
soldiers –cut off in France by Hitler’s forces–
has been driven into the sea by diving,
strafing Nazi planes. They stand in water
up to their necks, awaiting rescue by a
flotilla of small boats from England, racing
against time –and tide– to save them.

5. CHURCHILL DEFENDS HIS REALM (–HIS
“FINEST HOUR” COMES AFTER A GREAT
MANY “DUBIOUS MINUTES” IN IRELAND.)

Outside –we hear on the BBC- the world is “at
war”. Winston Churchill, the “British Bulldog”,
strikes a note of dismissive contempt for
“Mr. Hitler & his Nazzies”: “…we will fight you
on the beaches…we will never surrender”.
With indignant scorn he challenges Hitler:
“What kind of people do you think we are?”.

Realm-Defending Winston was having his
“Finest Hour”. But Winston’s “Finest Hour”
–it was said– came after an accumulation of
“Very Dubious Minutes” in Ireland in the 1920s.
Then, a younger Winston,charged with keeping
Ireland in the Empire, imperiously dismissed
the IRA Insurgents’s bid for independence
and an Irish Republic:
“Never!” said Winston (echoing Randolph, the
father who had rejected Winston all his life)
“Ireland shall never be free!” Nevah!
(What kind of people did he think we were?)

[But –let us return to Cobh in 1940:
My mother is starting a new tune.]”

[END OF FIRST POSTING. MORE TO FOLLOW. IF YOU WISH TO PURCHASE THE NEW BOOK, YOU MAY RESERVE IT HERE AT THE PRE-PUBLICATION PRICE OF 24 DOLLARS PLUS $5.60 SHIPPPING.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, EMAIL ME AT stonestreetpress@verizon.net (please note my new email address) or CALL ME AT 1 718 720 5976.

Thanks–
Malachi


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