Published on Academy of American Poets (


I had the passion 
but not the stamina
nor the discipline, 
no one knew how
to discipline me so 
they just let me be,

Let me play along,
let me think I was
somebody, I could
be somebody, even
without the no-how.

Never cared one bit 
when my bow didn’t
match the rest of the 
orchestra, I could get 
their notes right but 
always a little beyond,

sawing my bow across
the strings, cuttin it up
even if I wasn’t valuable
even if I lacked respect
for rules of European
thought and composure.

A crescendo of trying
to be somebody,
a decrescendo of trying 
to belong, I played along
o yes, I play along. 



Copyright © 2020 by Nikki Wallschlaeger. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 28, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I had the desire—but not the technical dedication—to continue playing the violin as a young girl, and this poem is about my failure to become a classical musician. Luckily, poetry is more forgiving than learning the moods of a string instrument, and necessitates individuality—this period of my life taught me I was one of those people who was unable (or unwilling) to play along with the crowd, even when I kept up the appearance of doing so.”
Nikki Wallschlaeger


Nikki Wallschlaeger

Nikki Wallschlaeger is the author of Crawlspace (Bloof Books, 2017), Houses (Horseless Press 2015), and the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (Bloof Books, 2019). She lives in the Driftless region of Wisconsin.


Date Published: 2020-01-28

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