Accordion Chamber Music

1.
like the Argo

you’ve lived like the Argo, always answering to the

same name

while others fell in love with arson and going back to

the drawing board, you’ve lived like the Argo, always

answering to the same name and continually replacing

the world piece by piece

“Life is difficult, as perhaps everyone knows by now,”

the gods may counsel. While others fell in love with

arson and going back to the drawing board, you’ve

lived like the Argo, always answering to the same name

and continually replacing the world piece by piece.

Now your hull scrapes the skirt of a new island, a

sound so slow to reach the young belles rehearsing a

new song in an old room.

2.
Model with Sword

He thinks this one is going to be titled Model with

Sword, but she knows it’s called Medea 1950.

Is it with a smile or a subtle frown that she sings a

song of lap dogs, black stockings and daggers? He

thinks this one is going to be titled Model with

Sword, but she knows it’s called Medea 1950, wiggling

the mask’s cheek deeper between her own.

3.
half a decade in a freezing tobacco storeroom

relishing a roomful of musical women is one way to

withstand half a decade in a freezing tobacco

storeroom. Years later you might even encounter their

fragrant scales for real.

On Santa Monica beach you’ve overheard a pair of

proto-surfers rehearsing lines for a film by Maya

Deren. How can you tell them that relishing a roomful

of musical women is one way to withstand half a decade

in a freezing tobacco storeroom. Years later you might

even encounter their fragrant scales for real. They’ll

be waiting for you to show them your favorite phallic

symbol, and the quickest route to the house of miss

Anne Frank.

4.
an action open to misinterpretation

who wants to be the first one to make an action open

to misinterpretation? What about you, the virile

painter alone in a room with a half-naked, well-armed

woman?

Of course we’re following a score written by ancient

gods, but let’s pretend we don’t know that. Now, who

wants to be the first one to make an action open to

misinterpretation? What about you, the virile painter

alone in a room with a half-naked, well-armed woman?

What about you, the young cellist a little too early

to try out for a film by Eric Rohmer?

Of course one of us has to die tomorrow, collapsed in

a useless heap on Central Park West. Of course one of

us will not turn up on the list of survivors from the

shipwreck of modernity. Of course we’re following a

score written by ancient gods, but let’s pretend we

don’t know any of that. Now, who wants to be the first

one to make an action open to misinterpretation? What

about you, the virile painter alone in a room with a

half-naked, well-armed woman? What about you, the

young cellist a little too early to try out for a film

by Eric Rohmer? What about you, muscled lyricist, you,

relentless captain, you, grizzled king? A single

gesture will suffice and, as a matter of fact, it’s

all there’s time for. No more encores from those

clangorous hotel orchestras. Curtains, likewise, for

all archaic pipers. On this cold morning, chamber

music hushes the wars as a purple planet rises like

candy in a lavender sky.

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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