Composer Anton Webern was killed in tragic circumstances in 1945. The words that follow, in serialist construction, emerged from an interesting process that sought to glimpse the moment and method of his untimely passing away.


Slumped, not asleep
The trembling finger,
A doe wakes from the muffled retort.
Fear lurks in soaring forests,
Velveteen clouds wed tight to icy peaks
From out of the purple a pinprick of light.
A dog coughs in the darkness,
Alpine glissando,
From shadow,
Blue ribbons of smoke climb upwards through staves.

What sound, the last cold breath?
Cursed serendipity of war,
Smoothing my hair with the palm of my hand,
Pity the ignorant
Children sleeping.
Players scratch and howl the missing notes,
A diamond shatters.
In strange osterreichische diminuendo
Your dough-like hand is clasped tight on the bottle.

© 2015  J A Elcock

Reproduced by permission from Come, Thule, published 2015 by The Artel Press