The Pianist's Pain

The tormented artist is both a stereotype and a paradigm. Stereotypes do not get to become stereotypes without some truth to them, of course, and every discipline that has artists, has tormented and tortured artists. There have always been those for whom Art does not manifest without birthing pains, or leave without scarring deeply.

For many years I lived with a pianist, a woman of remarkable talent, who found real joy in her playing and teaching, someone that lived inside her music in a way I could never interfere with. When she could not play, she was miserable. And I know she tormented herself over musical choices, decisions, options. But she never let loose her grip on reality, or spun out of emotional control over it.

Then there are those who are simply distraught by nature, and through virtue of their unrelated talent, we know of them, and have their exquisite renditions of pain in memorium.

The death of an artist is a loss magnified, of course, but when they themselves instigate this loss, we can only stand aside and regret. This piece was not written in response to any one individual or event, but rather a look at the pain of the creative, using memes I am familiar with.


Alone she strides the bench,
fingers trailing
the ivory black and white.

Nothing less than the shiny
streak of a razor
caresses her flesh,
creeping crimson trails.

Thinking of the past,
disregarding the future
slippery red runs of tune
across the eighty eight,
a single note is born,

More follow,
as they must,
Silken webs
in the language
of her life.
Each one alone
has time’s rusted edge.
they sing a dirge
for her joy.

Mad as birds,
deluding the air,
with mazed clouds,
possessed by skies,
and taken by light,
to sleep in her arms,
red trails
marking both limits -

And the attempts to break them.

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