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The Band

ISSUE:  Summer 1979
Pensioners fondle the books in the sidewalk bins
For the big bargains, two for a dollar:
Eat Yourself Slim, Secret Missions of the Civil War,
Great Train Wrecks, Photographing Your Dog
At home on their tables the books, never finished, pile up,
Their promises not fulfilled. The pensioners pace in their

Sundays they’re called outside by the music of the band
From the green rotunda. The musicians strain at their horns.
Their necks are pinched by the starched collars of their

They appear to be playing in this heat from duty,
As if asked by friends. Others may enjoy the music
If not them, so why not play for an afternoon?
The music floats up and away over the roofs
To the window of your hilltop room, where you lie in bed,
Whispering to your one love.
All morning you’ve played together slowly and quietly,
Free of the need to rush to some grand finale
That drives the strivers in the town, the young attorneys,

Who crave release. Over this ample district of the present
Floats the mournful dowdy music of the band.
It mingles with your sighs as you rise to dress.
You move with its rhythms to the straight-back chair at your

Where your paper lies ready, forms for a new agreement
Between you and the town, between the town and your one

As she steps outside to mingle with the pensioners
Who listen patiently to the band,
Hoping if they stay to the end
That something left behind in their rooms
Won’t look the same when they return.


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