Today's poem is by Deborah Tall


The camp musicians'
long forced-march echo
quarries down decades:
a quartet of strangers

forever propped
on makeshift stools
a blindfolded cellist
and masked violist

fitted with wooden
wings — carelessly
jointed, splitting
at the seams —

snagged in whorled
time and its measures
(the smokestack plays continuo)
as they mime their way

again through the old
singed scores
unscrolling at their feet...

how the ever-
forwardness of the line
(though fettered, though muted)
betrays the wayward ways

of things:
whole villages left
with telltale debris, aftermath
of tactics.

The air is spectral blue
round with a bite taken out
just short of a
complete phrase.

Can we even call it
An X over each man's face
forbids comment.

Copyright © 2006 Deborah Tall All rights reserved
from New Orleans Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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