Percy the Pianist: Canto I, stanzas 21-30

Stanzas 1-20

Next eve the band Toucani reconvened,
A final chance to demonstrate the plan
To put on stage was sound. Absent a fiend
Or devilish surprise, the piano man
Percy was full prepared, the billy can
Of his musical ideas ready to overflow.
He was not going to Afghanistan
To liberate or command, although
His nerves seemed to say that this was so.

Funny enough, as fate would have us read,
The gig was for a corporate client in
The arms industry, merchants of the dead.
Not that Percy cared for war ‐ His weapon:
The keys, the piano stool his steed, then,
To launch a flurry of notes was all he’d need
To capture prisoners of conscience. Subversion
Was not his game, he didn’t mean to tread
On other men’s terrain; or so he said.

That night the four of them did not play much,
They gathered by the piano to discuss
Logistics, like how the drums and such
Should be unloaded. The stage was an isthmus
And through the back they’d sneak without a fuss,
Stealing past the chefs into the swelling
Scene, a fitting place to hold a Xmas
Party, and to launch a campaign telling
The world you have arrived, without yelling.

There is no single instrument of war
That does not maim or kill or draw some sort
Of measured retaliatory affair,
Rebuke, or inevitable unhealthy thought
Of revenge within a mind not yet bought
By capital’s consuming march. Our men
Were aware that things political were fraught
With unknown danger to anyone
Who dared to take the field without a gun –

For arms and the musician sing a hymn
Of praise to the Muses, to Apollo
And to gods old and new, to Him
Who saves, and He with the celestial bow
Pinaka, sending thunder raging low
To Lucifer, who briefly ascended to
Gather his undead minions and bestow
Another curse upon the Earth. Do you
Percy, believe in fate or quantum flow?

What came first, the cover or the Book
Of Songs? Was Solomon’s feast for Sheba held
On a Saturday and did they cook
A golden fruit from an ancient oak felled
By a titan? Has an axe ever quelled
An uprising of druids assembled
At Stonehenge? A grasping overreach spelled
Disaster for Orion, yet his belt

Still sparkles near the seven sisters who
Perform a ritual dance, while Betelgeuse
Has dimmed, the Hunter’s eastern shoulder too
Overburdened to pursue more prey. Zeus
And his brothers had fathered an effuse
Constellation that has puzzled the star
Gazers. Percival read the obtuse
Charts: He was a Leo – a king – whose roar
Couldn’t force the tiger to the floor

Of Rome’s Colosseum after the ban
On human combat. That the zealous
Martyr had spilt his Christian blood to fan
The flames of conversion from Hellas’
Age to the era of the one true and jealous
God, was not particularly important
To the attendees of tomorrow’s precious
Gathering. After only an instant
Of listening, there’d be nothing they’d want.

Waiting is a hard game; a fist can fly
Fast to the cheek but a kiss may take years
To come again. ‘Twould be better to try
A coffee and sit in a cafe, hold tears
Back and just use your own time. These public fears
Are too much for most. Percy had the worst –
Becoming a professional took beers,
Sweat and blood. But perhaps the coming first
Performance would ultimately quench his thirst

For an audience of two, three, five,
Eight, thirteen, twenty-one, thirty-four –
Because Fibonacci was not alive
He could not condemn Percy if a bore
Was what he was. He did not do a law
Degree so don’t accuse him – the piano
Takes decades, even centuries, before
A technique matures. First you should sow
Then reap your practise with the heavenly plough.

Graceful sexy art by Elihu Vedder, The Pleidan (1885, Wikimedia commons)



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