Curse XV

When Jeff's cell phone rings,
it plays a bar of his father's canon
composed nearly sixty years ago
as an assignment in graduate school.

"Mr. Glynbourne,
my wife and I listened
to your composition,"
said Professor Jonas Pintchik.
"We think you have
a promising future."

"I had no future,"
judges Francis at eighty.
"A number in the class did.
I was dumbfounded
to be singled out."

Flashes of pride flicker
against hard-won humility.
Music, his passion still,
inflicts pleasure and pain.

When his son Mark played
his DVD slide show
celebrating his daughter
for a family audience of ten,
Francis was so offended
by the soundtrack
that he grabbed the remote
and pressed mute
without consideration
for anyone else,
outraged and furious
at having to endure
three pop songs
matched to pictures.

We watched in strained silence,
the joy bled from the pictures
as each one filled the screen
without accompaniment
while Francis still fumed,
tightly clutching the remote.
Awkwardly, Mark
tried to fill in the gap
with impromptu commentary.

Even unheard, the songs
continued to do their harm.