Poem ‘Doing the Work’

Doing the Work

I thought of someone
scrunching up pink paper tissues
and sticking them randomly
to scanty trees. I paused outside,
beguiled by fresh horse chestnut leaves
like little green squids,
poised in the crossing sun

When finally I sat down inside—
sustained sounds in A
all around the unravelling dark
—I knew how much sweat
went into this, his sweetest symphony.
Oh, there would be tears, applause,
cries of ‘bravo!’ and the house
might well be brought down— eventually.
None of them saw the bitter tears
or heard the harsh cussing.
And they never had to sit
through the long silences
or watch him toss batons aside
and wipe that heavy brow.
More than once he must’ve wished
to be somewhere else—
in the grip of a glacier, perhaps?

At the break
I stumbled out into an evening
among smokers, a kerfuffle of gulls.
We watched a lone magpie emerge,
sneaking off with leftovers,
the keener eye winning
with the merest effort

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012


  1. Wonderfull poem…i say that with a big smile!


  2. Ina · April 15, 2012

    Hi David
    Composing must be quite a job, is this Beethoven you mean? (I thought of him when I read this.) I love the way the work of the magpie ends the poem 🙂 Bravo! lol


  3. dfb · April 15, 2012

    Thanks very much Ina. I’m not really sure who it is – it might be now, might be in the past. Could be Beethoven…


  4. The Course of Our Seasons · April 15, 2012

    Hard work to orchestrate spring – Takes a keen eye – and a wonderful poet to remind us! Thanks, Kathleen


  5. Emma · April 15, 2012

    I love the mixing of the natural world here with the business of man. Creating is such an arduous process no matter what we’re creating, and it’s difficult to imagine all the work that goes into the masterpieces that we treasure especially when the free flow of them makes them appear effortless. You’ve captured that well here. Lovely poem, David.


  6. Just A Smidgen · April 15, 2012

    I loved the imagery in this one.. we have snow again.. and would love to see crumpled pink tissue flowers. I would love to be in a concert this evening as well… I just might see if there’s one I could attend!


  7. dfb · April 15, 2012

    Thank you very much! Yes, a concert would be nice, wouldn’t it?


  8. magsx2 · April 15, 2012

    I love this poem, you have put across the frustrations of a conductor and yet managed to leave the reader with beautiful music playing just the same, brilliant.


  9. lscotthoughts · April 15, 2012

    Wonderful imagery, David and fun language…
    kerfuffle of gulls. 🙂


  10. myian · April 15, 2012

    This poem awakened my senses, amazing.


  11. Louise Jaques · April 16, 2012

    Stunning last few lines David, a captivating image with strength in the metaphor. Well done, top work as always!


  12. Three Well Beings · April 16, 2012

    I just LOVE this, David. I could create so many possibilities in my imagination! Great image! Debra


  13. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Thank you very much Wendell!


  14. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Thank you very much Kathleen!


  15. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Emma, I am very grateful for your comments, thank you!


  16. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Thank you very much Mags!


  17. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Lauren, thank you very much!


  18. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Thank you very much Patti!


  19. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Once more Louise, I’m very grateful for your comments.


  20. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Thank you very much Debra!


  21. Eve Redwater · April 16, 2012

    “beguiled by fresh horse chestnut leaves
    like little green squids,” – this is a great image David! They really do look like them. I really enjoyed reading this today; wonderful poetry as always! 🙂


  22. journeyintopoetry · April 16, 2012

    This is the most amazing poem David.

    The way you compare the labours of the conductor with “the merest effort of the magpie”

    So very very cleverly written, I love it.



  23. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Thank you very much Eve!


  24. dfb · April 16, 2012

    Thank you very much Christine!


  25. New View From Here · April 18, 2012



  26. bardessdmdenton · April 18, 2012

    Very raw and effective poem on the disparity between the creator of music (or any artistic endeavor for that matter) and the spectators…


  27. dfb · April 19, 2012

    I thank you so much!


  28. granbee · April 19, 2012

    The work of springtime–very demanding indeed! No matter whether the music is created by bird or human–it is very demanding unto perfection.


  29. dfb · April 20, 2012

    You are very perceptive Granbee, thank you so much!


  30. Russell Smith · April 20, 2012

    I played the French horn in a few orchestras and some conductors could be absolute tyrants and pitch fits like spoiled children. The image of tossing the baton reminded me of that!


  31. dfb · April 21, 2012

    Ah, thank you so much! I’m glad this ‘struck a chord’. 😉


  32. Thomas Davis · April 21, 2012

    This is a brilliant description of what goes on behind the performance (or publication or showing) of art. Again, this is really, really excellent work.


  33. dfb · April 22, 2012

    Thank you very much!


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