Measured Extravagance

01 December 2002 - 1:03 a.m.

Living Bread

in memory of Thomas Peck

Eleven years later, I'm rehearsing Monteverdi,
Byrd and Palestrina, taking care to ingest the texts
so that, in singing "panis vivus"
my mouth will be rich with the wonder therein.
Eleven years later, I'm not the musician
(not yet) that you thought I could become, but what I have managed
to keep comes in part from the whispers and the rants
you hurled at the chorus that hot and lively summer.
Eleven years later, I've even less in confidence
yet sing with far more knowledge, burdened with the silence
of doors I shut precipitately, courses scuttled in haste--
nothing fatal, nothing even truly wasted--
but struggling afresh with pitch and recollecting your kindness,
I promise anew to my future and your ghost:
my voice being made for psalms and stories of love,
I could not choose the substance of the gift
but I can shape it.

    - pld

An idiosyncratic handful of reading and listening recommendations:

Things Shaped In Passing: More "Poets for Life" Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (edited by Michael Klein and Richard McCann):

". . .If now it seems I have only pain
to remind me that my life is real,
I mention it not as an appeal
for sympathy or understanding,
rather from a wish to make it plain
that it's earned a certain tender love
that I used to give to other things
which now I have no desire of."
    - David Bergman

Sondheim, Etc.: Bernadette Peters, Live at Carnegie Hall Concert and CD to benefit the Gay Men's Health Crisis. Her rendition of "Making Love Alone" is hysterical.

"Brief Lives: Kevin" in Bill Richardson's The Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast: "There is a good deal more brandy in a bottle than can be accommodated by a single fruitcake."

"We were recently the objects" in Bill Richardson's The Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast Pillow Book: "As I was hauling my bassoon to the pantry, they were debating the best adhesive to use to make a compact disc stick to the quilt."

Heaven's Coast by Mark Doty: "Being in grief, it turns out, is not unlike being in love."

Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness by Tony Kushner: "The matzoh is so formidable that no sooner does it make its appearance at the Passover Seder table than we slather it with a ragout of nuts, apples, honey, cinnamon and Shapiro's Kosher Wine ("So thick you can cut it with a knife!")--because the matzoh reminds us: political success, stability, security;the luxury of time and ingredients needed to bake a lasagna, a play, a rounded identity: These things can and most likely will be stripped away, and you will be faced with hard choices."

Rent by Jonathan Larson: "Maybe you'll see why/When you stop escaping your pain/At least now if you try/_____'s death won't be in vain. . ."

The Promise of Rest by Reynolds Price: "Boat, if there's any Paradise, with any crystal river, you'll be there in hip boots."

Two years ago: "The succession of names called to my mind an image of swallows flying in and out of the eaves. It was calm. It was beautiful. It was sad. "

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