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Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact [email protected].

Ode to the Duduk

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 21, 2018.
About this Poem 

“The duduk (pronounced doo-dook) is an ancient double-reed wind instrument carved from aged apricot wood. It is indigenous to Armenia, though variations of the instrument are found in the Caucasus and other parts of the Middle East. It is characterized by a rich, earthy, and what might be called haunted sound. It is distinctive from reed instruments in the West.”
—Peter Balakian

Ode to the Duduk

It’s not the wind I hear driving south
 
through the Catskills—it’s just bad news from the radio
 
and then a hailstorm morphs into sunlight
 
—look up and there’s—
an archipelago of starlings trailing some clouds—
 
But how does the wind come through you
primordial hollow—unflattened double reed—
 
so even now when bad news comes with the evening report—
I can press a button on the dashboard and hear your breath implode
 
the way wind blows through the slit windows of a church in Dilijan,
 
then a space in my head fills with a sound that rises from red clay dust roads
and slides through your raspy apricot wood—
 
Hiss of tires, wet tarmac, stray white lines
night coming like wet dissolve to pixilation—
 
Praise to the glottal stop of every hoarse whisper, every sodden tree
which speaks through your hollow carved wood—
 
so we can hear the air flow over starlings rising and dipping as
       	the mountains glaze the sun—
 
so we can hear the bad news kiss the wind through your whetted reed—

Copyright © 2018 by Peter Balakian. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 21, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Peter Balakian. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 21, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.