Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bert Almon

St. Matthew Passion, Bach Choir

(Royal Festival Hall)

After the arrest of Christ, the long interval
began, and a mob took over the lobby
to set up their traditional meal,
carrying chairs and tables from other floors.

What could be more English than to picnic
on Palm Sunday at a St. Matthew Passion
performed in English? They had much tidying to do
before re-entering the Hall for the trial of Jesus.

The Evangelist stopped the crucifixion:
during the chorus, “O Head filled with blood
and wounds,” the tenor, James Gilchrist, walked
to the conductor and whispered that he was ill,
having lost sight in one eye. Trained as a doctor,
he could measure the danger and left for hospital.
All the choir could do then was sing the last choruses,
omitting the narrative and shifting the drama offstage
to the casualty ward. They closed their scores
and sang to us from memory, “When I must depart,
do not depart from me. When I must suffer death,
then stand thou by me.” On the way out, the crowd
was spreading the news on their phones, so many thumbs
roaming over the tiny buttons. A few people hefted baskets
with the leavings and implements of the meal.


Here’s to Hollywood

At the Jasper Park Lodge,
the accountants’ convention
held a costume party
with a classic movie theme.
Drifting through uninvited,
I saw three famous mustaches
Gable, Groucho and Chaplin (twice),
and three or four Marilyns,
all of them over the top,
but best of all, Mickey and Minnie,
he in red shorts with big white buttons,
she in a red polka dot dress,
both of them wearing white gloves.

As I went to my car,
Mickey and Minnie ran by me,
giggling to their cabin,
stumbling in their yellow clogs,
with hot mouse sex on their minds.
White gloves on or off
was strictly a private matter.


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