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“I was nine when my teenage brother taught me Mozart’s song about a violet who dies happy, crushed underfoot by a careless shepherdess. Since Donald’s death, I’ve been struck more than ever by the ways his early gifts helped shape me, especially his love for music and language.”
Joan Larkin

Mozart Songbook

Outside on Fremont Ave, black
snow and no such thing as a
white wig or a lovestruck violet
who sings his heart out. My lungs
ached, huge with breath and the harsh
sweetness of strange words. Veilchen,
Mädchenmy brother spoke them
to show how my tongue was a gate
that could open secrets. He pressed
keys partway, to draw softest sounds              
from the upright, and what he loved
I loved. That was my whole faith then.

Copyright © 2015 by Joan Larkin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Joan Larkin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Joan Larkin

Joan Larkin

Born in Massachusetts in 1939, Joan Larkin is the 2011 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

by this poet

poem

A four-armed flutist took me
to the blue avatar: stone-blue
monkey, whiskers silver,
broken beads silver–
paint dashed by the artist on cheap paper.
Bought for a few annas, God
kneels, looks left. Intense concentration.
His ink hands rip open his chest,
pull skin aside like a

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2
poem
In barlight alchemized: gold pate, the bellmouth
tenor, liquor trapped in a glass. The e-flat
clarinet chases time, strings shudder,
remembering the hundred tongues. Here comes old
snakeshine, scrolls stored in the well, here comes
the sobbing chazzan. O my lucky uncle,
you've escaped the Czar's army. Thunder
is
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