Out of Tune

This entry is part 33 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems


Round peg in a round hole:
too cozy! It only needs to relax
the slightest bit & the whole
song fails, like a machine
with one slipped gear.

We hold our breaths then
for the single-string walk,
up up up up to pitch. Ah!
And the tune clatters back to life
with a whoop. (One hates to see
John Hardy get away.)

Rare as an heirloom,
particular as an orchid,
miraculous as spring water
flowing from a tap
& durable as a razor strop
is the banjo player’s ear.
It’s the only instrument
in the band that can’t
break down.

Series Navigation← The Fretless BanjoOhio man accused of killing wife with banjos →

2 Replies to “Out of Tune”

  1. Pegs over machineheads, a smooth unmarked fretboard over that guideline ladder, the fifth string coming up, all beautifully rendered here. Yuk-yuk that final line!

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