Other Poems by:

Paula Ray

Sax Lessons

Label-wrapped-rich-brats with garage-band-dreams 
came into the Music Academy where Ms. M
greeted everyone with a magnet-palm, 
extracting money from their pockets. 
She’d say all the right things,
using those got-talent phrases like doggie biscuits 
for poodle-Mommy’s, silk-tie-leashed Daddy’s,
and the occasional overgrown kid
hungry for some extra-curricular.
She was the redheaded Madame 
and I was one of working girls,
taking innocents into my private room,
teaching them fingering and tonguing tricks, 
how to blow soft, make it scream loud, 
get high, and growl. It was all about diaphragm, 
rhythm, flow, and letting go .
With a B.A. pedigree, I knew how to prance on parade, 
even poop in her gloved hand on cue.
I was better than house-broken. I was a moonlighting maid:
a cheese-ball-butter-cookie-punch-bowl server, 
every fourth Friday after the marathon
of tiny-tot-string-sawing, piano-bench-Barney-blunders, 
and Mozart-Beethoven-Suzuki regurgitated reruns 
pocked with mistakes like puss-packed-pimples 
garnering plastic applause: obligatory claps 
from square hands of the unrelated.
Now I work from my third bedroom, picking pupils 
with a keen eye for aptitude, attitude, and ambition.
Money takes a back seat, while art drives the bus
filled with ones strong enough to make the journey,
because I’m too tired to drag the dead weight of a meter
chained to my pelvis, charging for every potential given birth.

Horn of the Devil Sounds Sweet

Adolphe Sax threatened instrument makers
with a new invention, cross breeding brass 
and woodwind. They stole his tools, 
burned down his factory,
and attempted assassination 
for his musical creation.
In the flames of jealousy and greed arose  
the “S” shaped devil’s horn, the Pope declared diabolical
and movie producers picked to stick it
behind Stella on the steps in a slinky satin seductive scene,
too sinful for the wholesome bred becoming stale,
in the fifties along with blurry black and white.
The sax showed up too late for the orchestral party,
where symphonies were composed by wigheads
and pigheads refused to transcribe parts
or make room for the sultry sound.
In the teens of the twentieth century, 
women stepped forward, unashamed to blow in public.
They formed sax groups of four or more 
and paraded their pride gaily before the masses.
Instrument sales multiplied and supplied
funds to keep music alive in public schools.
It fueled the tank that conquered a battle
people like me, music teachers 
and female musicians don’t have to fight.

Why did I chose the sax?

Because it spoke to me and said,
“press your lips against my grain,
cradle me against your womb,
release the wind within your mind
and I will send your screams, sorrows,
and sighs star-ward 
until the sunburned sky
 showers you with blues.” 
How could I refuse?


Paula is a musician and emerging writer from North Carolina where she teaches band, gigs about town on her saxohone, 
composes, and writes poems and short stories. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in: Word Riot, Pequin, 
Yellow Mama, Mad Swirl, Oak Bend Review, Dew on the Kudzu, DOGZPLOT and others. 
For more information about Paula, check out her blog: http//:musicalpencil.blogspot.com/
**Copyright 2009 Paula Ray, all rights reserved Send us your comments on this article
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