[Poetry] Little Music, By Ishion Hutchinson | Harper's Magazine

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[Poetry]

Little Music

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What a lot of little music can do?
The blind farmer Daylights in his cabbage
row, going crouched down between leafy skulls,
knows. He rises indifferent, far-gazing
as a fine haze disfigures the mountain.
A lot of little music can do that.
Aunt May opens her oven and Egypt
comes to town. She closes it, and sorrow
fills the coves, for she refuses to sing
“O Jerusalem,” but would rather say,
“Justice and devotion are my riches,”
which her grandson says to the ixoras,
naturally, stroking their small bonfires.
Madmen proliferate in the town square.
They speak to themselves a shattered, civil
constitution, more music than music,
cracked parchment voices like high-tensile fencing
around the courthouse. Wandering mummies,
they had foreseen the past; screech owls and ruins,
tourist-only beaches, local natives,
leaving no footprints on the sands of time.
That is what a lot of little music does.
Rosemary, self-wounding Rose, stabs Boy Blue
for dreaming of frost and the iron bird;
Boy Blue stabs Rose back and marries her twin.
All things considered, he is not a dog.
All things not considered, he is a dog.
Ashurbanipal, stammering from yard
to yard, with vials of ointment and powder
to cure body-come-down-ness and bad mind,
himself a market of frothing spirits,
the seventh angel, for whom there is no cure.
Night Hawk, through his burden of wisteria,
eyes caution signs outside Roofnight Club, warns,
“The microchip in Revelation thirteen,
verse sixteen, will be grafted in all flesh.
I dreadlocks in moonlight shall not wither
like baldheads at sunrise in Midian.”
Night Hawk meteors away. The rest hides in smoke.
Sunday’s baked quiet. It is done so soft.
Like rain on the moon, like curtains parting,
and the moon is there, or else the sun is
there, full of a lot of little music
that is the sea, there, always, amethyst
and slightly drunk, like the fishmen onshore,
who, in near silence, look across the bay
at the swamp heavy with scarlet ibises,
where, alone, Cre-Cre lives, a king, having
fastened to his head a barbwire crown.
He lifts his conch horn and blows out the stars.
It can be vicious and it is vicious
to make such renunciation, such rough
music, a lot of it disposable,
yet none dispensable, rocking every night.

 was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. His most recent article for Harper’s Magazine, 
“Dreams of Stone,” appeared in the April 2020 issue.



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