Devil Doing Scales

Charlie Clark


Fine. Not scales, just "Chopsticks"

and some idle, off-time tinkering.

He knows he has no talent for it.

Such fat fingers at the tips, like two packs

of sodden cigar stubs, and hardly more dexterous.

He chews at them and spins records of Chopin

in the evenings because it seems like a good idea

when the name Chopin occurs to him.

But he's yet to find a performance

where the player’s touch isn’t too brusque

or on the nose; he thinks the hands

should hardly leave a trace upon the keys,

notes loll instead mid-air like ghosts

unsteady still in their new skin.