Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hum If You Can’t Sing

So what if at every conflict in life we burst
into song – thoughtless as reciting a prayer –

reward our feet with a waltz or two,
congratulate ourselves with an aria

then tap dance our way through
the kitchen and dining room?

And suppose the musicians arrive early
each morning to tune up their strings

and oil their drums
while the white-gloved conductor waits

with his cue sheet at the breakfast table?
Would we expect a chorus prophesying disaster

or a fugue in D-minor? Why not ask 
for a drum roll through toiletry instead

or a diminuendo through dinner?
And what might our friends and spouse say

about all that sheet music stuffed in our pockets,
about our lives cluttered with voice lessons,

rehearsals and women dressed in high heels
and fishnet stockings?

Imagine the fun of it all, the spotlight
on us all as we dance and sing

throughout our lives with our pets joining in
with happy tails, and birds whistling

from their cages, encouraging applause
for our pitch-perfect singing each day.

“Hum If You Can't Sing” was originally published in Prairie Light Review, 1992.


  1. From Ken P.
    I do not have to imagine singing and dancing every day with whatever issue or mood fits the situation. My wife is not an opera buff or mere aficionado, she is an opera fanatic. When things are really tough for us, the music from the three riddles scene of Puccini's Turandot blares. My wife not only sings and dances, there have been times I have seen her levitate.

    Verdi's Falstaff is definitely for laughing at the absurdity of it all. The Humming Chorus in Puccini's Madama Butterfly or his Crisantemi soothes the most savage breast. The list goes on and on. I prefer conducting myself; my dancing leaves much to be desired.

    This is no joke. For a short jolt of simple tenderness, Beethoven's Fur Elise or Chopin's Etude #3 in E minor will do. But for real roaring power, the beginning of act one in Verdi's Otello will let it rip. There is a great deal of absurd lunacy in all the daily singing and listening, but it is a great coping device and a magnificent way to journey through life.

  2. I cannot remember a day without music in our lives. Music is its own language. It speaks all languages and its very special own language that all people of all ages understand and yet interpret through their own experiences.
    During the daily silences of our own lives, we actually think/hear/make our own music to accompany our innermost selves. Listen carefully, or you will miss some of the most noteworthy aspects of our being.
    Hum along whenever you wish.