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Poetry by Josh Bauer 

Josh lives in San Antonio, Texas.



© 2011 Josh Bauer





The Pleasure Of Calling One Thing By Another’s Name


This is when you were still playing viola

devoutly in the Suzuki method

and everything you wrote featured triplets.

Your Catholic upbringing was not lost on you.


And you used to cry in parking lots

because your mother

was praying for your soul.

Your sister was having children

and we were holed up

in a hotel.


You said to me you’d always been safe,

your whole life

and now

it was time for something


another life completely

in which you are



and you don’t look so much

like La Belle Dame sans Merci

from the back of our AP English book

but more

like Lesley Hornby

in the shadow of fashion.


This was one year before you quit

the orchestra

took up

what you considered

real living and you said to me

If you want the Pulitzer you have to get in a long line.


Your back was straight

like a plank perpendicular

to the polished pine floor


sitting second chair viola

in front of the bassoons.


The theme was the cosmos.

It was a grand design

that fell apart

in practice. As I used to say, “like communism.”

It didn’t take into account humanity.

The cosmos rarely does.


The orchestra sounded dissident.

This was either genius

or elegant

failure. The woodwinds floated so far

above our heads that we could not feel them.


The smashing brass section was exhausted

by the second movement

the theme involved so much rotation

and perfect execution

they prayed for death.

Your bow never faltered.


Your notes stayed so constant

the violas were mistaken for light.

The proud violins sounded

like Paganini giving notations

to William Blake.

A third of their number where miming.


When we got out of the auditorium

into the sunlight you said,

“That was too modern.

It sounded like hell.” I agreed and we talked

quietly about the composer they had flown in to conduct.








You must remember

there is a pair to almost everything.


The soft coal pupils, the chambers of the heart,

the wild limbs, the teeth and all their brothers

the fingers, the toes, the hidden bundles of sinew

now, more like strings than cables.

I don’t have the memory for the maddening miracles.


I got your hair right.

Saying its phrase over and over,

 “She drops her copper into my lungs.”


I lost your eyes,

your freckles, and myself,

having nothing real to cling to

sunk through your bones

into the dirt, turned to clay.

Your lips, misplaced

along with a map of the West Coast,

showing in the color of blood

routes into the sea.






All work is property of Josh Bauer.




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