The Junior High School Band Concert
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.
Born in 1926, David Wagoner is the author of numerous collections of poetry and he served as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets.
Date Published: 1999-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/junior-high-school-band-concert