Play “Melancholy Baby”
Bows his neck after each tune,
stares at his hands for five, ten seconds.
Playing piano in a department store
isn’t a bad solo gig: three hours a night,
five nights a week, intermission breaks,
a transient audience in the hundreds,
thousands during holiday shopping,
usually scattered over four floors…
And, no, says piano man,
it’s not fingers or hands that tire,
it’s other senses.
My eyes gloss over from looking
at the same view hour after hour,
night after night, he says,
clothing, jewelry, plastic plants;
the perfume department makes my nose run
and my ears ring from continual percussion.
A tuxedo is not necessary though a dark suit,
white shirt and a tie as conservative as the
forties and fifties standard tunes he taps out
are expected. Tips cannot be accepted,
though he gets a twenty-percent
store discount on items purchased.
No smoking, no drink perched near the
Shopping for one, piano man walks the aisles
of the local supermarket unrecognized.
Gene McCormick have had twelve books published, the latest being An Ice Axe At Dusk (March Street Press, 2011), a collection of short stories and narrative poetry. A number of my poems have been converted to music and performed professionally, and my art (usually meant as illustrations for my writing) is in private and commercial collections.