The Easiest Way to Empty a Seashell is to Place it on an Anthill

Original Text: 
Jeramy Dodds, Crabwise to the Hounds (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2008).
Don't be frightened. Mr. Gould is here, he will appear in a moment.
I am not, as you know, in the habit of speaking on any concert
except the Thursday night previews, but a curious situation has
arisen which merits, I think, a word or two. We are about
to hear a rather, shall we say, unorthodox performance of the
Brahms D Minor Concerto, a performance distinctly different
from any I've ever heard, or even dreamt of for that matter.Àæ
--Leonard Bernstein introducing Glenn Gould playing
the Brahms D Minor Concerto Op. 15, April 9, 1962, New York
2before falling to the ivory
3like a luggage-bombed Boeing.
4His right hand on the trebles moving
5at the rate it takes to stitch shut
6the eyes of a hawk.
7Left hand low and slow, corking
8scraps of breath in perfume bottles.
9His right is a palace revolution,
10the King's own gave them the keys.
11Left hand like an ancient fish that has come
12to enjoy long walks on the beach.
13His right, lucky as finding a duffle of porn
14the day after his girlfriend left.
15His left, like drilling rain
16pocking the pond before resting
17like a cowboy in a hip bath,
18smoking a cigar in front of the fire.
19Meanwhile, his right walks like a woman
20entering a dry stone hut knuckled on a hill,
21her wounded revolutionary lying inside. She
22carries a basket of bread covered with a towel.
23His left makes the rich nervous.
24His right skis to the North Star, seeing-eye dog of explorers.
25His left pivots at the star and stumbles in perfect harmony
26like an actor playing the Bullet-Riddled Man.
27His right is under oath.
28His left's careful as a cobweb in a dry sink.
29His right practices the foolproof rhythm method.
31His right pulls the blinds.
32His left lets one rip.
33His right touches the keys like fruit
34checked for ripeness by a football team.
35His left stops in its tracks and shivers,
36having found a corpse in the hedge.
37His right shakes its moneymaker
38at a nun, while his left
39is held above the keys like a tongue
40sickened by the fur of unbrushed teeth.
41His right blames its parents and slams the door.
42His left goes off its rocker, lets out
43like a soccer match, crushing people in the stands.
44His right is read the riot act while
45his left sugars the sheriff's tank.
46His right is winter, a pinhole of light broken open.
47His left is a centaur having his way with a harpy
49His right thinks the garburator has turned
50the left into a rosebud stump.
51His left is flung on the guardrail like a car wreck.
52His right turns back the tide.
53His left is a combine going against the grain in the corn rows.
54His right loves what you've done with your hair.
55His left is a shut-in living through the eye in his door.
56His right's limp as a severed gooseneck.
57His left gives shelter to the poor, feels around
58in the dark for someone it knows.
59His right has nothing left to lose, so it brings home the bacon,
60it spreads the threshold of your aorta while
61the left is lowered by a long G chord
62into the borehole of your heart.


1] Glenn Gould, Canadian classical pianist, conductor, and composer (1932-82). At this concert, Gould played the first movement at half the tempo dictated by the composer. A recording is available online. Back to Line
30] pan-pan: a radio distress call warning of a non-life-threatening emergency. Back to Line
48] centaur: classical mythical figure, a horse-man.
harpy: an ugly winged bird-woman with claws.
Golden Fleece: fleece of the mythical gold-haired winged ram, sought by Jason and the Argonauts. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Jeramy Dodds and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from him in writing.