To Beethoven’s Bust, Who Watches as I Work

Photo by Melissa Reid

Photo by Melissa Reid

You have that 10-years-to-retire schoolmaster look:
swollen brow, zipper lipped, a damning glare
watching over me. But Beethoven, you’re kidding
nobody. Your ruffle shirt, 18th century quiff exudes
je ne sais quoi, a side-kick quirk, orchestral cheer. 

Yes, the instruments of time have changed.
I tap notes on a tuneless keyboard, play
bhangra, online poker, compose sandwiches
which, you seem to say, sound fine
for a dystopian future. I’m sorry my concerto
is primarily inertia, that my quavers
are cheese flavoured.

You hover – decapitated manikin
of the harmonic past. Your music’s played
in restaurants and elevator shafts. Ludwig,
we’ve got to laugh. You have devotion
and I’ve limbs, digits, a brain to open
tin cans, scrub carpets, break wishbones.

Outside the office, a drum bangs,
young drunks sing, one bird tweets
its day to another, a mum crows to her kids,
a cab backfires. One day I’ll take you out
to hear them, hold you under my armpit
like a Scooby-Doo apparition, remind you:
the music doesn’t belong to the maestro.

Russell Jones is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor. He has published 4 collections of poetry and edited 2 poetry anthologies. He has also published travel writing, short stories and research. Russell writes novels for young adults, and has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. He enjoys White Russians, karaoke and Twiglets.