..... poetry .....



"It's Just Downright Spooky"
a cowboy's lament


Now, I'm not a bettin' man. 
   You'd never catch me 
   at a slot machine or craps table. 
But odds are odds,
   and 1 in 12 is pretty slim.

For you folks not in the know, 
   songs can be sung in 12 different keys, 
   like a constellation of moons 
   around a big ol’ planet. 
And you gotta’ be in the same key as the rest of the herd, 
   or you gonna’ stick out like a bovine heifer!
Come to think of it, 
   I don't think I even know 12 chords on my little guitar!  

Truth be told, 
   I like playin' with those freaky pagans 
   who sing ’n dance around a fire
   all night long. 
They got an awesome spirit!
In fact, I heard a coyote howlin' along with 
   a couple singers
   one night 
   that put my hair on end…

Now, some of my melody instruments are real flexible 
   and can play in any of those 12 keys,
   no sweat.
But my drums, well, that's another matter. 
   They're just animal skins stretched over barrels of wood,   
   and sound wherever God's temperature & humidity puts ‘em — 
   high, low, weird combinations of pitches,
   you name it. 
Sometimes you'd think two drums were tryin' to see who could 
   sound the craziest, 
   like who was calling their ancestors the loudest!  

But here's what I don't understand:
   A group of singers would start somethin' out of dead silence, 
   then I’d sneak in to play under them. 
And sure enough,
   my drums would be right in tune! 

Even in broad daylight, a group would be singin' 
   some song to some deity,
   and then a random moose horn would blow in the distance.
Can you guess? Yep, right in the same darn key!     
Every time I turn around, it just keeps happenin'. 
    It's downright spooky! 

Works the other way, too. 
   The drums would play for a lonnng stretch 
   and then I'd come in with my little wood marimba
   that can only play particular notes —
And of course, Their bunches of notes 
   fit perfectly with My bunches of notes. 

I just don't GET it!
   I don't see no dealer takin' heaps of cash under the table,
   I don't see no card counters winkin’ at the poker table, 
   I don't see no city slicker fakin' a heart attack
      to distract the sheriff. 
There must be some kinda priestess somewhere 
   when those pagans get together.
She’s wavin' a magic wand,
   dividin’ up space ’n time,
   playin' favorites to make ALL those keys match.
It's just downright spooky! 

August 2018




©2018, Michael Smolens