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Poem: "Dissonance and Consonance" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Dissonance and Consonance"

This poem is from the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from e_scapism101.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the Monster House series, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.


Dissonance and Consonance


On the last day of school,
I found the music teacher sitting in the swingset
and trying not to cry.

"Don't worry, Miss Sally," I said to her.
"You'll see all of us again in the fall."

"No I won't," she said.
"I just found out that the school
can't afford to renew my contract.
They're cutting the whole music program.
I don't even know if I can stay in town --
my landlord is selling the apartment building."

"Well, why don't you walk me home,"
I invited.  "You can at least have supper with us."
"Your parents won't mind?" she asked.
"It's not the first time someone has
brought home company," I assured her. 

The house reeked of paint and plaster
and sawdust from the new addition still under construction.
Workmen banged away with their hammers, extending
the second floor of the house over the whole of the first floor.
"When it's finished, my brother and I will each have
a room of our own without needing to clear the office," I explained.

My mother spit out the nails she had in her mouth
and tucked her hammer through its belt loop.
"I hope there's not a problem with school," she said.
"Not exactly," I said, "but the music program's been canceled
and that leaves Miss Sally at loose ends.
So I invited her to supper."

"Well, there's plenty of ham and beans to go around,"
my mother said, "but we might need more biscuits."
Two of the guys on the roof were unemployed,
helping us in exchange for free food and a work reference,
so we'd eaten crockpot meals most of the month.

I left Miss Sally on the couch in the living room
and headed into the kitchen, which smelled
of pork and baking bread, and oh,
the sharp-sweet tang of rhubarb pie.
A loud voice rang out, "No!  Get out of the oven, you little --"

The bogeyman was juggling a hot tray of biscuits in one hand
and pulling the radiator dragon by the tail with the other.
The dragon growled around a mouthful of biscuit,
its tiny paws screeching along the wire rack of the oven.
Suddenly the rack slid out and crashed to the floor.

"Is everything all right in here?"
Miss Sally asked, coming up behind me.
The bogeyman let go of the dragon, who retreated
to the radiator still growling around its prize.

"Just ... fine," the bogeyman said through his pointy teeth
as he wiped one hand on the frilly apron
that said My kitchen, my rules.

"Those biscuits look delicious,"
Miss Sally said to the bogeyman.
"Would you like some help making more?"

The bogeyman's smile went
from shark  to sunshine  in an instant.

I helped package supper for the two roofers,
ham and beans in plastic tubs, biscuits in tinfoil,
and the last of yesterday's cookies for dessert.

It was all good, when we sat down to eat,
and if I sneaked a bit of rhubarb under the table
for my seeing-eye gremlin, nobody said anything.
My parents and Miss Sally talked about the school budget
and the importance of art and music programs,
and whether something else might be arranged
by various parents and students who wanted lessons.

"And in the meantime, you're welcome to stay here,"
my mother said.  "The living room couch folds out."
Miss Sally narrowed her eyes at the monster-under-the-bed,
who had tied bells to her shoelaces while she sat there.
"I sleep upstairs," he said hastily.
"Very well," Miss Sally said.

So Miss Sally came to stay with us for a while,
and I got to schedule music lessons all summer,
and the next day when I came home from the swimming pool
there was an impromptu concert going on.

Miss Sally was singing a folk ballad.
The troll had a pipe drum
made from actual pipe that he hit with a hammer,
and the bogeyman was playing a bone flute,
his long thin fingers flittering over the holes.

I took out my tinwhistle
and began to fill in the blank spaces between notes.

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16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 20th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
People really did help each other out once upon a time and maybe they will again just as they do in this poem.
Good.
:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2012 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

This is on the rise again. People who don't have cash will get creative about meeting their needs. And cash is only superior to barter when there's enough of it to go around.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 21st, 2012 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

It's going to be "interesting" watching our modern society go back to behavior that went out of vogue in the 50's.
:|
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2012 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

The hard part is that, like multigenerational living, people have lost many of the skills that made it work fluently.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 21st, 2012 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I think you're being a bit generous in your estimations. I'd say that people have lost MOST of the skills that make a barter society work fluidly.
Almost all the people alive and living in cities today have been there for several generations now. I doubt as much as 10% have any family still living in rural areas much less working on farms they own or rent. That multigenerational removal from rural life also removes people from all the hundreds of skills you have to have to lead a simpler rural life. A life in which you make almost all of the things you need to live out of the raw materials easily found around you.

My last grandparent died at the age of 97 and she occasionally spoke of how pre-WWI life was lived. It was a very hard life. Most people were ready to retire in their forties simply because they were worn out if they were lucky enough to have lived that long: Men through hard physical labor and women through lack of birth control.
My grandmother did speak with pride of never having to buy anything but coffee, tea, and salt up in town. As for modern conveniences, you don't miss what you've never had.
I used to watch my grandmother stare at the TV back when I was growing up. The look on her face told me that she couldn't quite understand why people valued it so. As for the radio, any music from the 1950's on was little more than noise as far as she was concerned. She was totally out of step with the modern world no matter which of its ways you might mention.
:|
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2012 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>Almost all the people alive and living in cities today have been there for several generations now.<<

Barter works just as well in cities, it simply tends to be used for different things.

>>She was totally out of step with the modern world no matter which of its ways you might mention.<<

I can't say I'm terribly impressed with modern society. I know how to adapt but ... I just can't bring myself to do it this time.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 21st, 2012 06:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

"I can't say I'm terribly impressed with modern society."

I'm not either, but at least we have more options now than we ever would have even 50 years ago.
I have a certain horror of getting locked into someone else's idea of "what would be best for me". Some people just won't leave others alone to make their own decisions for themselves.
:|
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2012 07:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>I'm not either, but at least we have more options now than we ever would have even 50 years ago.<<

At least theoretically. Many of those options are unavailable for many people.

>>I have a certain horror of getting locked into someone else's idea of "what would be best for me". Some people just won't leave others alone to make their own decisions for themselves.<<

Yeah, me too. I'm so far from the average, when other people have control over me, the results are frequently damaging. It's made me aggressively protective of my integrity.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 22nd, 2012 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

"It's made me aggressively protective of my integrity."
Everyone should be.
:[
siege From: siege Date: September 21st, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Quoting an acquaintance of mine, when someone says something is "for your own good", it often isn't.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 22nd, 2012 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I agree. It's never what you yourself would have chosen.
:{
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: September 20th, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find myself hoping that enough of the parents and grownups who want music lessons can band together to fund Miss Sally.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2012 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

That would be good.
ladymondegreen From: ladymondegreen Date: September 21st, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I like that idea too. Maybe Miss Sally can get together funding for a music house.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: September 22nd, 2012 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
As I just said elsenet, " Oh, Miss Sally can see the monsters! And she knows how to interact with them! Oh, happydancesquee!"

I particularly loved

Miss Sally narrowed her eyes at the monster-under-the-bed,
who had tied bells to her shoelaces while she sat there.
"I sleep upstairs," he said hastily.
"Very well," Miss Sally said.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 22nd, 2012 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed this so much.
16 comments or Leave a comment