By Unpopular Demand: A New Poem by Chuck Calabreze
after Fred Frith
Possibly amidst the smashing glass.
There amongst the tambourine marchers.
Possibly before the door slams.
Before the drummer stumbles. Before
the scatteration of cymbal and tom,
the crash and rattle of toppling snare.
Possibly before the pharmacist staples
the bag to the bag to the label
to the receipt. Possibly there, among
the ordinary gleamings in the silverware
drawer, the wine glass coaxed into song.
Possibly before the ambulances arrive, before
the lumberyard truck starts backing
and the geese lay their necks along the grass
and emit the hissing blat we learned
to call honking. Possibly before someone
climbs tableside and attempts a ragged
Mr. Bojangles imitation. Possibly
before the dinner music. Before
epistemology. Before the arrival of the latest
tropical depression. Before Romanticism.
Primitivism. Possibly before
the fight song, the drinking song,
the mystical ravings. Back there,
in the dawn of time immemorial
or something rather like it. Before
the baying hounds. Before the cartographers
mapped even the darkest caverns
of our collective psyche.
Before blenders. Crock pots.
Before the lap dancer tossed
the man’s drink in his face. Before
lap dancers. Before drinks. Even before faces.
Somewhere during the cacophonous
ceremony we were beginning to commence
to initiate, quite possibly the hysterical
combatants were shouting
over and over for no reason: Dead
squirrel! Dead squirrel! Dead squirrel!
Whether celebration or lament
we cannot know, but the chant was,
reports indicate, accompanied by much
high-stepping and forceful vomiting,
by smashing glass, door slams,
stumbling drummers: Dead Squirrel!