David Wagoner

(5 June 1926 / Massillon, Ohio)

The Junior High School Band Concert - Poem by David Wagoner

When our semi-conductor
Raised his baton, we sat there
Gaping at Marche Militaire,
Our mouth-opening number.
It seemed faintly familiar
(We'd rehearsed it all that winter),
But we attacked in such a blur,
No army anywhere
On its stomach or all fours
Could have squeezed through our crossfire.

I played cornet, seventh chair,
Out of seven, my embouchure
A glorified Bronx cheer
Through that three-keyed keyhole stopper
And neighborhood window-slammer
Where mildew fought for air
At every exhausted corner,
My fingering still unsure
After scaling it for a year
Except on the spit-valve lever.

Each straight-faced mother and father
Retested his moral fiber
Against our traps and slurs
And the inadvertent whickers
Paradiddled by our snares,
And when the brass bulled forth
A blare fit to horn over
Jericho two bars sooner
Than Joshua's harsh measures,
They still had the nerve to stare.

By the last lost chord, our director
Looked older and soberer.
No doubt, in his mind's ear
Some band somewhere
In some music of some Sphere
Was striking a note as pure
As the wishes of Franz Schubert,
But meanwhile here we were:
A lesson in everything minor,
Decomposing our first composer.


Comments about The Junior High School Band Concert by David Wagoner

  • Susan Williams (11/27/2015 4:46:00 PM)


    Oh, oh, oh, it is a rare piece of poetry that has me falling out of the chair laughing out loud! When our semi-conductor
    Raised his baton, we sat there
    Gaping at Marche Militaire,
    Our mouth-opening number.
    It seemed faintly familiar
    (We'd rehearsed it all that winter) ,
    But we attacked in such a blur,
    No army anywhere
    On its stomach or all fours
    Could have squeezed through our crossfire.- -Oh, my gosh, he has set me off again! !
    (Report) Reply

    25 person liked.
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  • (3/18/2005 7:08:00 AM)


    Did we wonder that Truth, Goodness and Beauty are the ultimates, as Plato averred? Read this poem and weep with joy.... (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: winter, music, father, mother, lost, school



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003



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