Wednesday, March 19, 2008


[Totally Optional Prompts this week encouraged us to be surreal. I'm working on another piece that may or may not turn out, but I couldn't get this out of my mind until I wrote it down. It is largely true and perhaps one of the most surreal experiences of my life. In the footsteps of the surrealists, I ask you to draw your own conclusions.]


Yesterday they were inside the blue glacier.
Today one hundred teenagers filled
the aerial trams cars above Chamonix
ascending in the bright morning light of summer.

The girls' smiles flashed bright
above long, formal black dresses.
Warehouses of paisley Victorian sofas
had provided the synthetic material
for the boy's tuxedo jackets,
some in dark blue, some in dark red.

From the tram they walked on
the dusty path carved for skiers, not
black dress shoes. Each person carried
one box: this one for flute; that one
for trumpet; over there one pushed
the giant timpani case on wheels.

By ones and twos they rode
up the chair lift, even the ones with
acrophobia, hands gripping tight
to the saxophone and the frame,
as they rose up the green hillside.
Up and up into the clouds until their feet
touched down near the hut.

Instrument containers littered the grass,
yawning next to the large wooden platform.
In the cold, sunny summer air
the cows looked up in surprise
as the warm-up began.

The brass and players were too cold
to hold tuning as one hundred teenagers
played the concert in the Alps for
thirty or forty hikers and the herd of cows.

[Note: When I was editing this piece, I tried to enhance the dream-like hyper-reality of it. I tried to cut transitions that didn't have impact themselves. I removed or changed every occurrence of the word "a". I often used the word "the" instead. I think doing so added to the immediacy and removed potential ambiguity (what hut? oh, THE hut). What do you think?]


Crafty Green Poet said...

Sounds like a lovely concert, I like the style you used

gautami tripathy said...

Actually "The" is so specific and it works here. I love the dream like quality here.

coiled cutters

tumblewords said...

Lovely images - I'm sure the herd enjoyed the presentation! Nice work!

Richard said...

That's terrific. I loved the blue glacier opening and the sense of mystery it gave to the whole poem. I'm guessing this really happened, and the blue glacier is an actual place I just don't understand; but, I also like the idea that the orchestra may have arisen from the blue glacier like some kind of spirits. Really enjoyed this, thanks.

Linda Jacobs said...

I think your instincts were right about using "the" instead of "a".
(Hm, does the period go inside the quotes?) Anyway, I love the idea of them playing for the cows. Just music for music's sake. You have beautiful descriptions in here!

Greyscale Territory said...

Love the dual concept of an ethereal, surreal orchestra playing in the clouds. You have captured the dramatic clash of surrealism and reality!

Just gorgeous atmosphere!

paisley said...

a real life surreal moment indeed... wow.. do you know the backstory on that?? why were they there?? how excellent...

and in reference to your comment in the end... i was transfixed so you reduced the lag to zero as far as i am concerned.....

sister AE said...

I'm so tickled you all like it and see the surreality of it as well.

Juliet - it wasn't the best concert, but it was truly memorable.

Gautami - thanks. I am glad I used "the" in this.

Sue - thanks. I hope so.

Richard - I think part of the idea of surrealism is to avoid dictating an interpretation in order for the viewer/reader to bring his own. This was real, except for the hyperbole about the warehouses (but not the paisley tux jackets). I will post the back-story on this when I have more time than I do tonight.

Linda - quotes and periods drive me crazy too! I figure as long as I'm consistent with me, then I'm doing well.

Greyscale - thanks!

Paisley - As I mentioned to Richard, I'll fill you in another time. Promise!

Maria said...

I liked the use of color interspersed all throughout and thought that you rightly caught the floatiness of the situation.

sister AE said...

Thanks, Maria.

Sleepypete said...

I bet it gave a huge "ok, what's going on here then ?" seeing all those people heading up the ski-lifts wearing orchestra garb and carrying instruments, instead of bright ski garb and snowboards :-)

Still keeping an eye on all of your poems but Michele sent me this time to let you know that I enjoy reading them, instead of me just being a silent visitor.

sister AE said...

Hi, Sleepypete. Glad you stopped by (from Michele's or otherwise)! And I was one of the ones on the lift, long black skirt and all (but I don't have a fear of heights).

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Here from Michele's this early AM...(Had a bit of trouble reasding the teeny tiny font...Is that a 4...? Very grateful the Poem was in a bigger font....Old Eyes, you know...)
I loved the poem....I know nothing about the use of words and structure at all....But I got the whole picture and found the idea of this concert way way way up on the top of a mountain, quite wonderful! It must have been an amazing experience, in every way.

sister AE said...

Hi, Naomi. Glad you stopped by. Sorry about the font size - I wonder about it myself sometimes (and I've gotten very good at the shortcuts in my browser to make the fonts bigger).

MissMeliss said...

I love this. The whimsy, the imagery, the choice of words...I was hooked with the first line.

sister AE said...

Hi, MissMeliss. Glad you like it.

Mad Kane said...

Lovely poem! And speaking of tuning, you might enjoy this limerick which out of my own oboe playing experience:
Give Me An "A."

sister AE said...

Thanks. I'll be right over to take a look.

Cynthia said...

EXCELLENT. I have a surreal
fetish and your poem more than
hit the spot.

sister AE said...

Thanks, Cynthia.