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Chris Patrick Morgan

The Dimwitted Organist

Bombarded by taunts and snowballs as he schlepped to piano lessons, the wünderkind always found joy and comfort in his dream of making perfect music. Karma would relegate bullies to day laborers driving tractors while the great musician would be cherished like a king ... kiss my ivory keys melon farmers ... but he had a problem. What would he write? Everything’s been done before. Everything’s been said. There are only so many ideas in the world and every great one has already been precisely scored by someone who’s already dead. Undaunted, he honed his enormous musical gifts while schooling at the finest conservatories. He practiced until keyboards became extensions of his hands, picked the brains and moods of the greatest living composers, all the while waiting for muses to arrive. One came. Caroline. After an arm-in-arm stroll along the river, after fine wine and making love beneath the crescent moonlight, after Caroline slid free of his embrace in sleep, the music began pumping and pulsing through his veins. I will paint your softness and grace in adagio hues ... Beneath nightlight and candle flame, he furiously scribbled on a notepad through the night, discovering that the drive to reach such high plateaus had arisen in spaces within his soul he never knew existed. He was certain as he scripted and rehummed the melody that he’d never, ever write a better piece. But private music – music confined to practice rooms without audience – is nothing. And so he was set to debut Fugue for Caroline in G at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields – approaching the dais to polite applause, striking his best crucifixion pose with baton in left hand, sensing the eyes of God and concertgoers, feeling Caroline’s breath upon his nape – when a frazzled, terrified bead of sweat blazed across his brow. He could hear his name laughingly uttered by future wine-toting aficionados. He could hear a critic split a gut. He could hear an on-going conversation at the back left corner of the stage: the dimwitted organist, leaning over to the timpanist, asking what the black keys are for.

Chris is a poet and graphic artist who lives in San Francisco. His poems have appeared in Washington Square, Sycamore Review, Southwestern American Literature, Seattle Review, Spillway, and Urban Spaghetti, among others. His spoken word/sound sculpture compact discs, Everything Orange and Within Earshot, are available from Birds Records/Akoolstik Music.

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