Of the many pod casts that I subscribe to, the one that relaxes me the most is “The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor. During the August 25th episode they shared a poem by Peter Schmitt entitled “Tin Ear”. I enjoyed this poem so much that I wanted to get a copy of the text. Without realizing that the text was published on the Writer’s Almanac website I went off on a Google Search for the poem. Having the name of the poem, name of the author and collection title I was sure to be able to immediately find the poem. Surprisingly enough none of my results led to the poem. I was even more surprised when the poem is in a book currently on sale over the web. The fact that a search for an author, book title and poem title don’t give me the expected results make me realize that the web still has more maturing to do, both on the side of web developers in properly structuring their website to permit search engines to fully index their content and from search engines being able to parse through and index dynamic websites.
Fortunately I finally checked The Writer’s Almanac site and was able to get the poem, which I have copied below for your enjoyment.
Poem: “Tin Ear,” by Peter Schmitt, from Country Airport. (Copper Beech Press). (buy now)
We stood at attention as she moved
with a kind of Groucho shuffle
down our line, her trained music
teacher’s ear passing by
our ten- and eleven-year-old mouths
open to some song now forgotten.
And as she held her momentary
pause in front of me, I peered
from the corner of my eye
to hers, and knew the truth
I had suspected.
In the following days,
as certain of our peers
disappeared at appointed hours
for the Chorus, something in me
was already closing shop.
Indeed, to this day
I still clam up
for the national anthem
in crowded stadiums, draw
disapproving alumni stares
as I smile the length of school songs,
and even hum and clap
through “Happy Birthday,” creating
a diversion—all lest I send
the collective pitch
careening headlong into dissonance.
It’s only in the choice acoustics
of shower and sealed car
that I can finally give voice
to that heart deep within me
that is pure, tonally perfect, music.
But when the water stops running
and the radio’s off, I can remember
that day in class,
when I knew for the first time
that mine would be a world of words
without melody, where refrain
means do not join,
where I’m ready to sing
in a key no one has ever heard.