“What But the Music” by Kenneth Salzmann published in The Poeming Pigeon: Poems about Music, released November 12, 2016 by The Poetry Box.
What But the Music
Maybe graying women and balding men are gathering
right now in every improbable town that hugs
a two-digit highway pointing vaguely toward America.
Maybe it’s turning out we are unremarkable, after all —
unique and universal, just like all the rest.
Maybe it’s nothing but the same comfortable crawl
every generation makes toward first things and well-worn
memories, when they start to notice the obituaries
are piling up higher than anyone ever thought they could.
Or maybe it is the music, after all.
What but the music might have orchestrated
forgotten revolutions and unforgettable kisses?
What but the music underscored every presumed
triumph and defeat, drew us into church basements
and into cheap apartments in bad neighborhoods,
ripped down walls, egged us on, played us out?
But maybe a soundtrack laid down decades ago
can permeate our souls and chart our lives
until one day we begin to see — long after we’ve
stopped looking — that astonishing rhythms
really did change the world.
What but the music might have bound us then?
What but the music might bind us again?