Excerpt for Recital Notes, Volume 2: The Digital Sessions by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Recital Notes

Volume II, The Digital Sessions


Michael Neal Morris

Copyright 2018 by Michael Neal Morris

Smashwords Edition

ISBN: 9780463394441

All work in this book is the sole creation of the author (including the cover), so all blame can be placed on him. However, I appreciate the input I have received from numerous family and friends during the years these poems were composed, and as I compiled the collection.

Thanks also to the wonderful musicians and teachers of musicians who began the work in me, and who continue to provide me so much joy.

License Notes:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


The Digital Sessions

Other books by Michael Neal Morris

About the Author

The Digital Sessions

saxophone curved flats

seen from space walking through earth

down and up the same

in the crusty dark of sloughs

dying titans steal the light


like looking at the feet

one stumbles on dancing

lives on beautiful filtered


walking as if

with elbows and ankles


bedroom lithe

hallway haughty

kitchen death


all is heavy:

the pack

the cup

the half dead limb

the losing eye


chopin on the run

satie eating pears

and i too sick for beer

A shake of the head like a nod

a gliding out of your world

into the fugue of funkiness.

You feel left out; you're not.

Come to school: educate your emotions.

This going away land is not

for you, for us. Be here. Be.

What sounds like at first like hollers

are folks listening in tongues.

I could skip

into a bath contentment

(fingers fronting lightening

as he scats through A-train

summer soprano sax time)

—- It's been a long day already

and it's just past noon —-

if only my date

and a glass of beer

would find my table.

He's laying into that bass

like it's a ham sandwich,

marking just time. But me and you

rolling dice with happiness,

eating notes, swallowing bitter

pills on pillowy papyrus.

Words fail, Diz and Bird say.

Melody fills like holy bread.

Where have you taken my awkward

body? I don’t celebrate months,

and dance about (not to) the past.

This salsa has me moving, but

I don’t know that it’s forward.

You are looking for a dance

from a man who only shakes and sweats.

I can pant in any language. My

mother tongue is sex. Let’s chat.

Can't hear the rain soaking

the end of summer grass.

The band's playing "Sophisticated Lady,"

and behind the saxophone

I hear the breath of your laughter.

So wish I could dance so

I could be more than observer

of your kicking September drops,

more than a man off stage

in your expansive universe.

I won't disappear if you leave me

alone. If you could stay in the room--

pretend I am here and not

pretend you love me in another

country, where entwined minds

are left in copious afterglow--

then today there is no Chance.

I'll hold, for now, together.

A holiday nears. You, perhaps not.

So much happens, so close

to precipices I dangle and dawdle.

Every second part of the last

minutes, each parting a minute

shedding from the skin of sanity.

"...how fragile we are..."

I came here to take a rest

from organizing chaos

to escape the broken mess

one must hold together

to insure domestic tranquility

(what that ever is).

Then the band went

through that damn Sting tune,

the harp peeling the cracked

paper façade to reveal

all the heavy hues of blue.

Irony: playing "The Way You Look Tonight"

so fast no one can see how she dances,

three skinny guys and a pianist jumping

the joint like no one's getting fed.

Limber and lithe, these gymnastics

exercise the sitting

exorcise the spirit of down

excise, excise excise everything

until all that is left is rapture.

You must master silence

if you hope to know concentration.

The spaces between notes

where you think it polite to sigh

are where you have to learn

how to anticipate and receive.

Otherwise you are looking

for three chords you already know.

If he tried

to hold my hand

what sand would form

the foundation of my new house?

What fears would I accept

as they washed away conviction?

What prison would I lock

my new warm fingers into?

Speaking well of me

happens lately infrequently.

I am not supposed to mind.

What I would do with

a kind word

I don't know. Best

to stay alone

where the cold bones ache

than to publicly trample

on phrases you bake.

Domestic life is not so dull.

No more so than your big city

work or loud busy streets.

The chores you call "mind-numbing"

are not set in time to pass it

or serve a family who cannot

appreciate the effort.

Instead, what the ladies

at church lift up to God

is what I carry for Jesus

who carries me.

You have your dances, your recitals,

your concerts to dress up for.

Today I waltzed with the cooing

baby, scrubbed the pots

in time with the rain,

whistled and hummed along

with the ensemble on the stove,

and was serenaded by the cat

as I folded the wash.

I breathe deep this evening

and do not labor in sleep.

I did not come

to the meeting

because I could not

articulate what

you would not

listen to. And

I could not bear

to watch you


the wheel.

So I listened

to a little blues

piano and imagined

what work would be

like if there were

no meetings.

Don't know where we're going,

but I'm gettin' me one

of those shirts. Riffing

like a sax running wild

for pennies from heaven.

The road must be kind

to a player dressed

as a garden exploding.

flute of the warrior poet

dusty from the backpack

notes a salve

for the wounded half-way


Just wanted a picture

to carry in my iPad's memory.

Just wanted a watercolor

to run down my mind.

My mp3s have gotten scratched

and I've lost records

and count. Count me in

next time there's a game

I have no business playing.

letters and other blown

debris swept to the dark

end of the street where

a single voice gathers

the swells and bloated

and the coming dry

The young believe getting lost

in love is all. They whisper not

but shout theory upon theory

against fact, covering reason.

The young get lost

in eyes, in mouths, in arms

in entanglements.

Every frown is loss to them

in a world they expect to win.

Innocence has only so much charm.

And passion makes us only so warm.

The truth is this:

Until we get lost in a sunrise

or a sax solo with closed eyes

or the touch of a baby as it cries,

and only after the irreparable

hole has been carved

into our lives, can we

begin to grow love enough

to plant good seed.

call attention to your rudeness

brag about it on facebook

confidently cry

your bullshit is best

your distractions significant

but when you are old

and your diaper is no longer warm

don't trouble the nurse

listening to the radio

at her station

until smell of your skin

is stronger than the contents

of your brain

clowns abound but none make us laugh

too often we romanticize a life cut

in half

or dance through schizophrenic waltzes

singing dirges for celebrities


!boxes boxes boxes!

the mad are outside talking to the breeze

and we are home inside of rome

burning for a turning

but inert tapping feet in time

to the blessing of crime

how do i look in ?this? shirt

The world likes a hurry.

And only now have judges

used the phrase unintended consequences.

Most are busy, busy, busy

unengaged chickens, tethered

to unfeathered chickens

wearing the king's new suit.

Take Pan, for instance,

a man like every other,

chopping reeds to bother

someone who doesn't

want him. Killing

a lover not his to possess,

then fashioning an instrument

out of death, his breath

coursing through corpses

no one remembers.

Now on stage near you

--never mind what's true--

his fan club's members

are legion, his tunes


The instruments of joy

do not sturm und regen

but use them

even the fragments and debris.

Love's Great Spirit rules them all

and even can be discovered

in the wayward ellipsis.

Don't worry about the words

unsaid. They are happy like me

to sit and listen. Never mind

the trees and their philosophies

of their sounds and silences.

Leaves and children fall laughing

because they get to hear

you play.

The bright days have yet

to wane. Suns disappear

but stick in our memory

as we sit at tables

barely large enough for drinks.

We are in Paris

dining on the moon

and the pensive piano.

It's a stress headache

but I can't find the valve

to release the unidentifiable

pressure. Like learning

a partita on stage

above an orchestra

of car horns.

samba falling

into my failing

i could breathe

through this

if not for this

I've warmed to this

mourning. Gut strings

are tuned over the sore

spots and bows bounce

frenetically against scars.

Come, love.

Claim the resolve

I can't play. Bring

down the house

of my wishes.

Good to grieve in company.

But this one loss

is like communion denied

and no democracy of well-

wishes can cool the flame

of cubes boring through me

blocking my path as it fixes

my gaze at my broken altar.

Most of these kids

wouldn't know a good monk

if it bit them in the bible

never mind their straining ears.

Youth isn't the problem.

They have drama instead

of problems. They chase

nothing straight, but defend

their circuitous path,

obliviating circles.

Some say you can't choose

who you love, but they don't

tell you God chooses

who doesn't love you.

They don't say, because

they haven't a clue.

Worlds close in as rooms widen,

love as close as scent

is as far the letter of laws.

I had a seat by the sooty window

of a beer hall between rushes.

A brass band practiced languidly

as I stared into my stein

the scent of the yellow brown

peeking through the foam.

My memories slid down

the glass outside, disturbed

only by my unwashed fingers.

Then a thunderclap -- from

past the neighboring hills

or the tired, lingering musicians,

I cannot tell you-- drew

the eye, then the ear,

to the same pictures darkened.

"Guess it's time to head home,"

I said, nodding toward my beer.

Grey lake water laps

miles of shaken synapses

my failing Spring lungs.

Do you think a little Coltrane

will clean this mess, will undress

the redress composed to shame?

Perhaps I could disappear

into a Charlie Parker tune

as you draw a buffoon

with my features, a creature

of habitual disappointment.

I'm backing away

keeping your reality at bay

forgetting where we went.

Mr. Handel was often in church

when I sat down getting ready

to hear. "A preparation of the heart,"

the minister called it. But

some guy with a trumpet

pulled from a beat up case

would toot out some aria

as if no one was in nave

trying to pray. My back stiffened

against the notes. My neck

tightened at the intrusive yoke.

Soon I was sitting back,

barely aware I had given up.

Then something, a lilt, a trill,

tilted my face toward the player.

His eyes were closed, but not shut.

My lids fell. Grace carried me

from the pew. And the trumpeter

had long since packed up and left,

his tune still in the ears,

when I was aware:

I had heard the touch of God.

I hear "Fly Me To The Moon"

no singer to ape or defy Sinatra

so all I have to think about

is you at home reading

away laying down to sleep.

Stumbling over joy

the pupils undilate

the text, stiff

as the bench

pale as the upright

piano their music

rests upon.

16 hands playing Gershwin

then those ballads

to help America forget

the war over there.

What kind of waltz

has such falling

with the spins

but Gershwin turning

us out-inside?

Romance gets the violin

love the fiddle.

Courting gets the rhythm guitar

the lead is for the marriage.

The longer we traverse

the more we gotta go

somewhere. The more

crossings we make

the more genres blur.

And if you fear the city

don't assume the country

has your back.

The sack of death

is as hungry in the bluebonnets

as it is in the hospital alley.

But for now,

let us grow love

where we can plant it

and enjoy the music

we can make

in the garden of God's scents.

Two gentlemen stumble

against each other

not looking at the music

but each other for clues.

After her performance

she sat back

remembering the small gaff

no one else noticed

and glancing at him

she was mortified to think

was looking down.

When Django came on stage

we were already having trouble

breathing. Paris was always hot

in those days. No one had ice

or even thought to need it.

The smoke was thin with air.

Cigarette stuck

to a lip wet with drink

he looked down at the boards

as if praying the devil

would stay away from his

serious, light fingers.

We sipped the hard stuff

and swayed on command,

deep brown fretboard

exhaling flame, wood body

reflecting the long gone sun.

clarinet blue deep

dreams of women sunbathing

empty wine glasses

It's so cliché.

The girl looking out

a window (really

looking in) as Bach's

Sicilienne plays.

She ruminates on

some girl thing

as dudes in the audience

grab fistfuls of popcorn.

Carmen put on your nightgown.

We've got company.

Shut the windows;

We've already let too much in.

Stop that dancing.

The stairs can't take

your thick feet.

Now that you've brought Gretchen

out of the house

and felt her back sweat

in your palm,

how do you plan to explain

the cost of waltzing

with the devil's companions?

You know you can't take it

with you. Otherwise

Sousa would have spared us

this monstrosity upon his pompy

entrance to the grave.

Other books by Michael Neal Morris


In Domestic News: Selected Poems

Recital Notes, Volume I: The Paper Sessions



Music for Arguments

Don’t Hang On

Notes in the Margin


Is It I, Rabbi?

About the Author

Michael Neal Morris is the author of Music for Arguments, In Domestic News, Recital Notes (volume 1), naked, and Is It I, Rabbi? He lives with his family outside the Dallas area, and teaches at Eastfield College. Several of his short stories and poems have appeared in print and online publications. He posts almost daily at his blog This Blue Monk.

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