Friday, October 17, 2014
Poetry Review Special Feature: "Motifs" by Steven Mayoff
Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Motifs" by Steven Mayoff. A biography of Mr. Mayoff may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/10/poetry-review-special-feature-season-by.html.
Editor's Note: "Motifs" offers a cool jazz mix of music and sex--lovers as instruments and instruments as lovers. Put on some Miles Davis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMPL_ACKmHk while you read this one aloud and enjoy Mayoff's rhythmic use of alliteration and consonance and let the images emerge. "Motifs" was first published in Epignosis Quarterly in April 2014.
Let us improvise motifs on neck
and shoulder, in the small of the back
over an accordion’s buttons, coaxing
a garlicky wheeze from cracked leather,
a thin current filling the spaces (minute
pockets of eternity).
The real music exists between
the notes, a serpentine shimmer disturbs
the air. The clarinet’s reed stiffens
to life between saintly lips and confesses
all secret misgivings through a high black bell.
Let us practice etudes on cuticles of keys and soft
pedals, tongues strumming inner strings.
The bow glides across tightly-wound tendons,
a loving scrape on an open nerve.
Let us dance beneath a score of crows… ecstasy
across sky and wire and we two scarecrows, a voicing
of dry grass, hesitation and desire, pushing
the 360-degree periphery, wind-loosened borders
disturbing our air.
Poet’s Notes: This poem came to fruition during a poetry workshop where my instructor helped me make sense of a shapeless early draft by suggesting I break up the poem into three parts. The original title was “Musicians” and later changed to “Let Us Improvise Motifs” and now shortened to just “Motifs.” The real music exists / between the notes… (paraphrasing Debussy) is what brings this poem home for me and inspired the more spacious line breaks. Music and seduction go hand in hand, opening the way for joy and despair, knowing the two cannot be separated.