Tuning Up

Photo by deberarr

A staccato jackhammer,
rattle of a loose windowpane,
a frisking wail of wind.
a far off whine of acceleration,

The city is an orchestra
forever tuning, never playing.
What songless song is this?
Who sings it? And to whom?

Sheer noise, of course,
is not a song. And sounds are not
a symphony. This city is cacophony,
no euphony, nor unity.

Nor sentience, nor sense,
a katzenjammer caterwaul
a racket and a Babel.
a jangle and a jive. Yet blazingly alive!

Behind the din a metronome
that does not skip a beat:
this heart of mine that marks the time,
that tuneless holds the tune.

Richard Schiffman

Richard Schiffman is an environmental reporter, poet, and author of two biographies, based in New York City. In addition to Friends Journal, his poems have appeared on the BBC and on NPR as well as in Alaska Quarterly, New Ohio Review, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Writer’s Almanac, This American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily, and other publications. His first poetry collection, What the Dust Doesn’t Know, was published in 2017 by Salmon Poetry.

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