Small City Symphony
The manager rushes in late, cello
in one hand, orchestra folders
in the other. How can we start on time
if you’re not here? the conductor yells
from the podium. He owns a stationery store
named after himself on Fourth Street.
I’ve been doing your taxes
all day! she shouts, slamming
the black folders on her chair—
most falling to the floor.
What am I doing here? Last season
I came in from Junior Symphony
to rattle castanets in Daphnis et Chloé.
Got through it. Well enough.
They keep me around for a non-union
fifty a concert. At fifteen,
I’m always thinking I shouldn’t
be here—that the adults agree.
But tonight with this sideshow,
I might play a little louder.
The conductor baton-taps
his hand, mutters a non-apology.
The concertmaster stands,
nods to the oboist for an A.
Work-Study with Henry Zelazny
We nailed down loose molding, replaced chalkboards
with whiteboards during the summer of ’88.
Tightened restroom stalls—the kind suspended
from the ceiling. If it were screwed to the floor,
it would go nowhere, he grumbled. Juilliard’s
carpenter and fix-it man. Salt and pepper curls,
five-six in evergreen work pants and shirt.
We’d meet at 9 a.m. for breakfast in his workshop.
Bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll for me, coffee
and dried kielbasa for him. He debated everything.
It’s better to be understood than to be liked.
When I was looking for a place to live, he offered
a room in his mother’s Riverdale house. Doesn’t speak
English, but she’ll treat you like she birthed you.
I don’t play in an orchestra anymore. Can’t scratch out
harmonic analysis. But I know that everything’s
a hammer, except a screw driver—that’s a chisel.
Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is a writer and visual artist. He is the author of two poetry books: the full-length collection Common Grace (Beacon Press, 2022) and Ubasute, winner of the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition. His honors include a MacDowell Fellowship, a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry, a St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Literature, and nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets anthologies. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Plume Poetry, Poetry Daily, RHINO, Pirene’s Fountain, Salamander, Cave Wall, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. Aaron earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University and is also the author and illustrator of Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life (TarcherPerigee, 2017).
Image: Fvanhoof, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons