Joel Glickman, poet
Joel Glickman is Professor Emeritus of Music at Northland College where he continues to teach music, including jazz studies, part time. He is a previous contributor of poems to Aji and several other publications. Other endeavors include those of singer-song writer, banjo player, clarinetist, fisherman. He lives in Ashland, Wisconsin with his wife Susan and their bichon, Madeline.
(for Ukraine and everything and everyone now fallen all around us)
Sing me a song without a note of sadness—
-from Fa una Canzona by Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605)
Ego sum. I am. I am a cheerful person
but still I’ll sing you a sad song
of stacks of things that tumble in the hallways,
of decades sleeping all along the walls
where they dream their sundry dreams of railroad trestles,
and the streams that run below them
holding steelhead and the salmon we have wrestled,
both those fish landed and the ones we lost.
And for the cost of one more nut brown ale, I will
regale you with an epic tale
of times that were and were not mine, and reinvent
myself a youth, and none of it the truth.
If you want that, you’d best not frequent these saloons
lined up on Main street, end to end.
No one needs a mirror, but we all need a friend.
And me, I need a place to be without
the detritus of used up, boxed up calendars
tottering like leaning towers
in my front room, ready to fall and pin me there.
Less risk in this tavern— top shelf whiskey
in shining rows behind a fine old walnut bar.
If you build a wooden structure,
let’s say a bridge along the railway, or a house,
but don’t maintain it once it’s done against
the ravages of rain and snow and time also,
it will just fall down by and by
and if it stands brand new today but in Ukraine,
it could be in pieces by tomorrow.
Yesterday I saw some news film of their sorrow--
a tarp spread on the ground, four men
loading it with rubble. Then each one took a corner,
hauled it off, dumped it and went back for more.
Ego sum. I am. I am a cheerful person,
obliged to sing you a sad song,
and maybe soon I’ll try to sing you something new--
a bright green tune, not indigo, not blue.