A Little Less Kettledrum, Please

by D. A. Powell


The field commander, in his regal busby,
____tosses his corded mace into the air.
He, too, excites the eye. Just as the color guard,
____those shako hats and twirling sabers,
________trot out our choreographed
tribute to something. The Hundred Years War?

Boom shaka-lacka lacka, boom shaka-lacka lacka,
____I’m part of a fantail movement
stepping time in the eye of a peacock feather.
________Hear me, up there in the bleachers?
I may be the least of all the piccolos.
But mine’s the tune you’ll whistle as you leave.

Now have all the mosquito trucks come by
________to prepare the grounds.
And now has the unnatural grass
____been freshly mowed and limed.
________The drumline has reviewed all day
wheeling a battery of tympani without a glitch.

If you heard a chirping flycatcher out of place,
____that was not me. It was the reeds.
For I save all my wind to expend uptempo
____on Close Encounters of the Third Kind Theme
by the maestro, Mr. John Williams.
________We do a scramble pattern then.

That’s when I imagine I am to be struck
____by the first trombone, like a turgid wet wiener
________thumping my shower bum
____when coach averts his supervisory gaze.
Or, abject under the walnut tree,
____he’ll make me practice the Overture to Tommy.

A junior who slides through valves like that,
____who works the phrase with such aplomb,
will surely be able to play me something
________from the Great American Songbook,
be it Body & Soul or Jelly Jelly. Anything will do.
____Except I Can’t Get Started With You.

____& just for the record I’ll have you know
________I play on the football team, too.
I just don’t play on all of them at once.


Read An Interview with D. A. Powell

Or read more poetry in our current issue