The motel whistler whistled
All our afternoon nap,
But on we slept. He
Whistled after we woke, having whistled
Days before our arrival, so the legend goes.
It was jazz whistling with no
Recognizable notes, no harmony, and if jazz
Can be said to have keys and it can,
Never in key and not too loud.
Very poor whistling, but live,
Not a recording of a whistler,
A human, the other side the wall.
There is no payoff to a pedicure.
That’s the point.
Costs money but can’t be called a pleasure—
They were an honest people on a peninsula
With no trees, a mild peninsula,
And kept no funds in stockpile.
The pleasures they could not justify
Were many, gentle—
Were barely activities, no bang
To the payoff because there is no payoff—
Rain, Antarctic waves in the sun,
Wind keeping the purposeful busy helicopters grounded.
Who told on the whistler?
More than one of his friends, he had many.
Or only one snitcher?
The no tune
Was no musician’s
But it isn’t so much we wonder when he stopped,
But why, where along the structureless noise,
Like a train on a continental track with no towns
Arthur Vogelsang currently lives in Los Angeles, but as a former resident of Baltimore (Brehms Lane Elementary, Towson High, Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars), he visited the nearby Gettysburg battlefield four times as a child and adult. His books of poetry include Cities and Towns (University of Massachusetts Press), and his latest book, Expedition: New and Selected Poems, is available from Ashland Poetry Press.
“Canto Zero” appears in our Autumn 2010 issue.