No longer walking
the straight & narrow,
no longer restricted to the harsh
amens of service,
now it’s your turn to be held still
for the sawing of some
effete bow, generations removed
from any kinship with arrows.
But you’re free!
And this song of yours
never have been heard.
You put your whole body
into it, still ascetic,
but now for the cause of art.
There’s a sweet spot, the street
musicians say, & they find it
in you. Where the heart might be,
systole & diastole in perfect balance,
if you were more than cartilage.
The pure tone floats up
through two octaves of rejoicing
at your deliverance
Or is this grief?
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- Odes to Tools now in print
- Ode to a Socket Wrench
- Ode to a Claw Hammer
- Ode to a Musical Saw
- Ode to a Hand Truck
- Ode to a Shovel
- Ode to a Hatchet
- Ode to Scissors
- Ode to a Bucket
- Ode to Forks
- Ode to a Magnetic Screwdriver
- Ode to a Plumb Bob
- Ode to a House Jack
- Ode to a Measuring Tape
- Ode to Scythes
- Ode to a Plane
- Ode to a Spirit Level
- Ode to a Hoe
- Ode to Tin Snips
- Ode to a Crowbar
- Ode to a Coping Saw
- Ode to a Hive Tool
- Ode to a Compass
- Ode to a Shoehorn
- Ode to a Wire Brush
- Woodrat Podcast 2: Elizabeth Adams and “Odes to Tools”
- New Odes to Tools review by Noel Sloboda
- New review of Odes to Tools
- New review of Odes to Tools by Kathleen Kirk
- Odes to Tools as “living poetry”
- Scythes revisited
7 Replies to “Ode to a Musical Saw”
This is beautiful and moving.
Lovely, Dave. I am a longtime fan of the musical saw. (Do you know Tom Waits’ The Black Rider? There’s a lot of musical saw in that. The track “November” uses it especially gloriously.)
“The harsh / amens of service” and “where the heart might be / systole and diastole in perfect balance” and “deliverance / from lumber” and then that kicker of a last line — !
pretty sneaky to get in another tool poem! And a nice one, too.
The last line slays me.
CGP, sarah – Thanks. I wasn’t sure when I went to bed this morning whether this was any good or not, but it doesn’t look all that bad in the light of day.
Rachel – I don’t know if I’ve heard that album or not; I’ve been exposed to a lot of Waits by various friends over the years. I’ll keep an eye out for it. I have the deepest respect for his ability as a composer and arranger.
Thank you for writing this poem!
I collect poetry about the musical saw on my website http://www.sawlady.com/poetry.htm
I would like to ask for your permission to put your poem there, please (of course with copyright credit to you and a link back to you).
My website has become a resource for musical saw players around the world, and I believe sawists would appreciate your poem very much.
I particularly relate to the line “There’s a sweet spot, the street
musicians say, & they find it in you” since I am a street musician myself. If it’s OK with you, I would like to put your beautiful poem also on my street performing blog http://www.SawLady.com/blog where I sometimes feature poetry about street performers (again, with due credit & link to you, of course).
Thank you very much,
all the best,
Natalia (a.k.a. the ‘Saw Lady’)
Please free to reproduce the poem however you wish – or even to modify it, adapt for performance, etc. – as long as I get credit as the originator (and a link back here if it’s online ). That’s the plain-speech translation of my Creative Commons licence down there in the footer. But I do appreciate your asking, and I’m very pleased (and a little surprised!) that a poem on a subject about which I know so little appeals to an expert in the field.
I have actually checked out your blog once before, following a link from somewhere or another, and spent an enjoyable hour reading your stories from the streets. I thought the writing was top-notch. So I’m doubly honored by your favorable review. Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you very much for the permission as well as for your kind words!
I put your poem on my website at: http://www.sawlady.com/poetry.htm
I will put it on my blog as well soon.
all the best,