Poem of the Week | November 27, 2012

This week we’re celebrating our brand-new Fall “German Shepherd” issue, 35.3, with a wonderful poem from its pages by Tryfon Tolides. Tolides was born in Korifi Voiou, Greece. His first book, An Almost Empty Walking, was a 2005 National Poetry Series selection, published by Penguin in 2006. In 2009, he received a Lannan Foundation Writer Residency in Marfa, Texas.

From “Standards in Norway”


On the second track, “Little Girl Blue,” Keith Jarrett plays
a seven note phrase with an eighth one made of a breath after.
The pattern goes back and forth between two notes.
The seventh note repeats the sixth, as if landing there twice,
and finally, as if someone tries to jump to fly
three times, each time coming back down and the third
landing twice. The breath note after is a sigh.
Between the last note and the sigh, the bass line waits.
Just brush strokes and Jarrett accompanying himself
and silence, then he sighs—an exhalation,
maybe sadness. He stays as close as he can to the music
while it is happening, without interfering. As a boy
I remember the bus coming from the market town to my village,
then leaving, scattering chickens to the side of the road.
Dogs and children trailed the bus till it was gone.
But more than seeing it off, we were gone with it. With it and out
of its way at the same time. And what remained of the bus
in us after. I’d come back breathless, in pieces of star.