ChrisHalf400Flute 02



The Skytrain

is full again --
standing room only

it pulls up to the station
and a crush of people
rush ahead of you
pouring through
the automatic
you are left behind

and you are left thinking
how you loath masses of people that teem
frothing and jostling from place to place
wipe them from the face of the earth
then the train would run
for you

but the station
is now
completely empty

you can feel and hear the wind
as it picks up discarded newspapers
with yesterday’s headlines
four people were killed when their bus...
and candy wrappers - paper and aluminum foil
fritter about from one cement wall to the next

where has everybody gone
and why in such a hurry?

Objects Found in Erik Satie’s Apartment After His Death, 1925

moth eaten velvet suits
for seven years
one for a Paris afternoon
another for the cafe you played in
still others
for the streets you roamed,
casual streets
of coffee houses
and people of leisure
lining the streets

and tables
hiding beneath their awnings

a top hat
and tiny glasses
you stared through

a hammock
strung in your room
no bed
one chair
one table

unpublished manuscripts
scores with annotations
like a nightingale with a sore tooth
the monkey scratches himself with a potato

poetry titled
Dried Embryos -
the description of a rock

a written discussion on being dizzy:
a friend who had never experienced it
and the blackbird perched above
watching over you imperiously

with melodies doubled at the octave
simplistic perhaps
and harmonies liberated
to the point of oddity

no prizes or awards
no major commissions
you were deemed a “quite insignificant pupil”

by the Conservatoire de Musique et de Declamation
tiny papers
with calligraphic inscriptions describing a
“looking glass” world
filled with hollow structures and figurines
a universe unto itself

moth eaten velvet suits
riddled with holes,
pockets of understanding

Outdoor Wedding

two flutes play
wagner’s wedding march
bach and beethoven
all the classics

the sunlight penetrates a light rain
each droplet echoes the sound of the two instruments
and creates a dull hiss
as each splatters the ground
and the rhododendron leaves in the garden

under the large white vinyl tent
suspended by hollow aluminum poles
the guests are intoxicated by white dresses
black ties, and gold rings
but silver flutes
are of little consequence

soft and intimate
their tones saturate the air
beneath the tent
touching the bride and groom’s footsteps
as they walk down the aisle

intentions are consummated
the register is signed
and the flutes play on
even when the wedding is done
even when the future suddenly arrives:
a pile of dirty dishes
a dirty diaper
an overgrown lawn

first flute and second flute
are always one
fast against slow
melody and counter-melody
the interplay of parts

can lie assembled
resting in their cases
next to the altar

ready to play
when the couple’s children get married
or even at each other’s funeral


electric piano
the body electric

electric lights
in a composer’s night
with the shadows
of his mind prevail?

the candles of the past
now all spent
cast their shadows
on the page
on your score
each note head
each gesture
grows darker
more rhythmically dense
the notes squeezed together

this electric personality
knows no artistic boundaries
there are no taboos:
make the strings shriek
make the singers howl
break the spirit of the winds

but the listener’s attention
feels electrifying
when they applaud
even when they laugh
or riot in their seats

be true to yourself
cast off the critics
cast off the shadows
of self doubt
that mock and motivate you
and you alone will create
a fortress of sound
a body of work that
lives and charges
the air it lives in

it isolates you

but perhaps such a lonely life
is a little too power hungry
for any one to handle

Cat Toy 

a red and black
a small round pillow
attached to an elasticized string
with two googly eyes
in tatters

tossed in the air
and captured by claws

for a taunt
then grabbed
and pounced upon

and what little is left --

tatters with white stuffing coming out
its string torn in half
attached to a ripped
piece of fabric
still bravely fights on
even when bounced
off the ceiling repeatedly

and as usual
when it threatens to escape
it is quickly captured
and rolled on
or perhaps gnawed

its catnip center
spreads through the fabric
to incite the enemy

for it is loved
as a predator loves its prey
for a short time
until it is time to eat
or have a nap

the squid comes to rest
in the center of the hallway
guarding the entrance to the kitchen
like an aging feudal knight


build an entire model train set in one night
use multiple gages if necessary

write a hundred poems
all really bad and perfect

disagree with every opinion
be the unsubstantiated debater you always hated

get angry with strangers for being strange
and those close to you for being close

drive your car too fast
spew forth profanities in public

glare at the acne faced teenager with green hair
he retorts with a glance
too close

balk at the anti-psychotic drugs
the mood stabilizers
and the anti-depressants
Epival, Lithium, Zyprexa, Prozak, Zoloft
you are not bipolar, you feel so energized

argue with old people because they are old
flatter the young for their virtues
their successes and their opinions are not yours
politics, you take
oh so personally

and then the medicine kicks in
you find some perspective

you finally feel ashamed of yourself --
you and your manic mouth
and hands


my parents gave me a crystal vase
I filled it with gladiolas
and baby’s-breath
then placed it on the mantle
where it was knocked
over by the cat
and shattered

it is my job to pick up the pieces

it is my role to be supportive
even through such a loss

each small fragment is a prism
reflecting the incandescent light
into countless colors
that refract on the edges

I pick up one of the larger pieces,
a somewhat oval shaped fragment
and stare at its surface
it is like a single life
or one of a multitude of thoughts
that makes up a human being
I roll it between my thumb and index finger
as if I could memorize its outline
to find the pieces that connect to this one
and rebuild the vase
stone by stone
brick by brick

I toss the fragment away
into the garbage

along with the rest of the pieces
until only particles
are left
a light dusting of crystal
coating the ceramic floor

but no matter how hard I try
I can’t seem to sweep up all of it
and for some time afterwards
a little dust thrives in the corners and the cracks
to remind me of what I once had--

my support for others
and my patience

and pretty soon
I visit a glimmering showroom
to buy another crystal vase
a spitting image of the original

I take the vase home
and gingerly
place it on the same mantle
and line it with flowers

the cat continues to roam the house
enjoying its dominion over the plants
and flowers in the house
biting and chewing
whatever it sees fit

and once more
my perfect shimmering,
my crystal vase is sent
to meet
the cold ceramic tile