Avatar photo

Smoke on the Water


Even in China, the fans no longer

give a damn about Deep Purple’s last world

tours, but our town’s Middle School band

conductress still showcases the song,

pushing the tempo fast, baton raised,

under arms swinging fiercely

like hammocks

in a Midwest storm.


Once, cheerleader-sexy under bleachers

in cold November air,

the pride of our county

is now a dry-cleaner’s

hot ticket sweating profusely

in a starched three-quarter-sleeved

white jacket.


The horn section seems to suffer

most – black slacks, starched shirts

wafting Axe – hair water slicked,

ears, cheeks flaming red,

eyes burning through sheet music,

every note blown cavernous

into just some adult shit song.


Disperse the smoke,

Drain the water.


Long stripped of Purple’s

leather pants and sooty asses,

parents love her song choice.

It signals the end of the school year,

dented rental instruments turned in,

locked all summer in their metal cages.


As long as they start and end together,

doesn’t matter what they play in between.

My husband’s own favorite:

Any one hurt?








We fold our programs, let out a collective

discreet sigh of relief, smile as we file

to our cars, a light drumming of rain

on the hoods –


Did we really think we’d ever lose

those heavy booted chords?


No turning back

the worn tape rattles

the car’s speakers’ bass blast,

windshield wipers slashing

the short ride home.








Join the conversation