The cannon are the hardest part, now
that I have given up trying to whistle the bells.
The best I can do, for a cannon blast,
is puff out my cheeks and make
a low gargling noise in my throat --
Boof! Boof, boof!
-- to punctuate "God Save the Tsar" just so.
Nor is it easier to whistle a "Marseillaise"
interwoven with crescendoes grander
than the French ever hoped for.
Or find breath enough to pedal
while slipping and sliding
Or keep track of Tchaikovsky's
elaborate transitions while dodging
But the worst are
that one person, whistling as he bikes
on a glorious spring morning,
cannot hope to do any of them justice,
not with the most artful
the cleverest INterCUTTING.
I have only two lips; Tchaikovsky had
a hundred splendid instruments,
(none menaced by the southbound 42
in the outer lanes of Dupont Circle).
An exercise for "Poetry Bootcamp," March, 2000