Reaching to the Choir

R.S. Mitchell

For all the symphonic splendor,
how quickly we up and render
a coterie into a crowd
(bumptious, brazen, and very loud)
before the maestro leaves the stage,
despite the blaring program page,
which pleads in large, bold, roman font
PLEASE DO NOT. For it is our wont
to bustle on our breathless routes,
a trodden troop of resolutes,
hacking, feverish, ill at ease,
resolved to hear no melodies
upon this dark atonal night,
no tunes that can’t be heard on sight.

Who needs the grand old luthier,
his toothless grin grown toothier?
He was always absent anyway,
did naught for no amount of pay,
furnished us free with instruments
but smoothed our savage dissonance
with music made of mythic modes.
Numinous nonsense! Loads of goads!
Strum harder then upon your lute
(chanting “I do not give a hoot”)
the dirty ditties of disdain,
the quaint concerto of your brain,
for all that’s sung of human tongue
will never faze Oblivion
when Time, with prompt banality,
wraps up the last vainglorious Me
and his super-simian antics
in the second law of thermodynamics.

Consider our cosmic station:
neither mean nor deviation,
a poor priest without a temple,
a self incomprehensible,
a nakedness never laid bare,
n = 1, the night’s daymare.
Why, it’s fine as funneled spacetime
and (cosmologists say) sublime
to leave the stage forevermore
as the cosmos bolts for the door,
blank back turned as it ever was,
bearing us neither hates nor loves
in its vacuous, pointless breast—
uncreated, uncursed, unblessed.

This logic without a premise
is none of your mystic business.
Think not do-re-mi. Think “fah”
and never on the octave “Ha!”
It’s just a dumb, stochastic hoax.
Bach and Mozart? Practical jokes.
And still a question slithers in.
Of all the worlds that might have been
we find it odd that there should be
a cosmos with a middle C.
Unless they’re strung for tremolos
guts don’t fart arpeggios,
and yet they claim this cosmos did.
Call purpose inscrutably hid
and Logos not light in darkness
but a guttering candle’s crisis
and all true lamps equally dim:
do you—or don’t you—raise a hymn?

R.S. Mitchell is a writer and editor based in Crozet, Virginia, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He blogs at