John Skoyles

for Moveable Famine

 

MUSIC APPRECIATION

 

Conductor Andrew Heath never read
our term papers. We typed a first
and last page, filling the middle
with Our Fathers, Hail Marys,
the Gettysburg Address.
He lost his temper only once,
when a student who dominated
discussions clapped as a visiting cellist
finished playing a Brahms sonata.
That sweet sound, about to fade, died
in the know-it-all’s premature applause.
Heath made strangling motions
at the offender’s throat, saying,
“The last note is not the end—
the last note is the silence that follows.”

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JOHN SKOYLES is the author of four books of poems, A Little Faith; Permanent Change; Definition of the Soul and The Situation. He has also published a book of personal essays, Generous Strangers, and a memoir, Secret Frequencies: A New York Education. He teaches at Emerson College and serves as the poetry editor of Ploughshares. Two books of prose, A Moveable Famine and The Nut File, will be published in 2014.

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Read more work by John Skoyles:

 
Essay in The Atlantic
Poem in Slate
Poem in Plume
Author’s Website

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