Nachtmusik by Stephen Meats

StephenCrickets and tree frogs

Choir the starlit yard.

Low in the east

a half-moon, opaque

almost as an egg yolk,

backlights the silhouettes of trees

like semiquavers in the score

of the Bach requiem

when a darker shadow

whispering into the branches

of a pin oak drops a pall of silence

into which barred owl chants―

Who dies for me?

Who mourns for the small?

―and every living thing

within sound of the call

is still and alone

with the beat of its heart.

But then the shadow lifts

and mockingbird begins

once more to improvise its

three phrase melody,

and the crickets and tree frogs

again relax their anthems

into the sacred dark.

~ Stephen Meats

Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications 2013), and a book of poems, Looking for the Pale Eage (originally published, 1993; second expanded edition, Mammoth 2014). He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985.

Guest editor: Kevin Rabas co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State and co-edits Flint Hills Review. He has four books: Bird’s Horn, Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner, Sonny Kenner’s Red Guitar, also a Nelson Poetry Book Award winner, and Spider Face: stories. He writes, “For my month, I searched for poems that meditate on “time” in its many musical nuances, such as in times a tune jogged your memory, times the music seemed to transport you in time, times you patted your foot or danced to the music’s groove (time), times the music jump-started your heart (internal time), OR meditations on musical elements (such as 4/4 time vs. 6/8 time OR swung vs. straight, rock 2+4 time).”


2 thoughts on “Nachtmusik by Stephen Meats

  1. Lovely images – that “silhouettes of trees / like semiquavers in the score / of the Bach requiem” sent me off shivering like the mice that heard that owl’s call. Thanks, Stephen, you made the night come alive.

  2. This reminded me of sitting in the huge back yard of my granny’s house in aluminum lawn chairs in Louisville, Ky.  Just listening to the sounds of night together.Thank you.Rebecca Ann Atherton White PSU ’84  

    #yiv4975269523 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4975269523 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4975269523 a.yiv4975269523primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4975269523 a.yiv4975269523primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4975269523 a.yiv4975269523primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4975269523 a.yiv4975269523primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4975269523 | Individual Poet posted: “Crickets and tree frogsChoir the starlit yard.Low in the easta half-moon, opaquealmost as an egg yolk,backlights the silhouettes of treeslike semiquavers in the scoreof the Bach requiemwhen a darker shadowwhispering int” | |

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