Songs or people

Switching tunes to suit the mood
— today it could be a slice of melancholy
(sixteenth century, harpsichord and minor key)
moving in to do the demolition job, or
tomorrow something modern (with, probably,
synthetic brass and barely human voice) —
I’ll lay my head in any lap, prick up
my ears to every sad, little wish of love.

Then, sung in a pressed school
uniform or the diva’s silk gown,
it all adds up to the same thing:
screaming and loving the house down,
from where the skin shivers and twists
to where, deeper down, old dead things
rattle their bones in time and weep.

Oh, it’s sad, it’s very sad, and the orchestra
unpacks its strings to usher it in,
or it’s glad, it’s very glad to see me
and the band strikes up familiar melodies,
drums up a bit of the devil dancing
with his red hat and whiter-than-white wishes.
Either way, the very least I’d say is
it makes you feel alive and, if you’re lucky,
makes you feel, brush away the webs and dust
from places that don’t get used that much,
at the cornices and skirtings where
spiders wrap old lovers up in string
and listen in to new ones talk
of new-year-things.

There are songs or people,
waiting between miles and hours of static,
and stones for me to sharpen on.