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 Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose  

HOROWITZ PLAYS CHOPIN

(Video, c. 1986)

She likes my tie

better than my playing

he says, embarrassing

young escorts struck mute

by the magisterial aura

of greatness. It’s quite a bow-tie:

floppy, purple, white dots

upstaging his faintly amused

liverish face – a comic companion

to the cardigan he wears

against the Evil Eye.


Then he leans into a ballade.

The bland lidded glance becomes a

rapier, probing. Hands that seem small

span octaves, flat on the keys

in ways decades of teachers have

warned not to imitate. Cadenzas

spin out in paradox --

sonorous yet light, as though hammered

by feathers. A final flourish:

the swoop and filigreed rush


of ballet. He rises,

suddenly frail. She still likes

my tie better he smiles, picking

his way through practice chairs.

A dazzling arc --

sun through an opened door

perhaps; or Apollo passing --

bleaches the view

Version first published in The Raven's Perch (Oct. 31, 2020)

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