Symphony, I said, and meant ‘all these different
musicians on a stage playing notes off a page’,
until you showed me piston slap, clutch and flywheel,
the steady, honest rhythm of crankshaft and camshaft

and half-speed rotations. I know we can’t hear it,
but this is real chamber music, live from the distributor,
melody of octane and oxygen, brass and strings
suspended together in fluid coupling. Surely

this is what con fuoco means: sparks, a collision
in pitchless consonance, mechanical expression
and thematic engineering inverted in a suite that still
turns over itself long after we leave the concert hall.

In the orchestration you know, each movement
leads to another, differential joints sequenced
like episodes, modulations, transformations.
What have you conducted, how many fugues

for this ensemble, toccatas in moto perpetuo
all those gears in counterpoint, constant progression
from manifold to manifold, allegro-andante-
presto, intake and exhaust.

(for a writing exercise on diction)

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