Drum Lessons - Poem by Michael Philips
She wants me like the moon,
reliably present but distanced,
like something sacred
or beating nearby - an animal’s heart,
wild and unknowable
in its underground womb.
It would be a tall tale to assure her
I can ride everywhere in tandem,
because I’m a character in one of those hokey
movie capers where they synchronize watches,
only to careen into mayhem anyway.
As if I could ever be a metronome – let alone
an expensive ebony one,
sitting aloof and neglected on a parlor grand
like a legend,
always at hair trigger readiness
to echo through the empty house.
This is what I have learned:
The worst drummers are those
with abundant razzle dazzle
but who cannot keep the beat,
star struck by the romance of propulsion,
forgetting that rhythm wears a badge.
I have learned I am no machine,
though that is something measured in degrees.
I have learned that my steady beat
is out in the hot sun
sleeping in the road with my dog.
She will have to have me as waves,
sometimes gently pulling,
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