My Piano and Me

The door shuts behind them
when they go; the key clicks their good-bye.
I sigh, and then stroll
over to my piano.

The wooden legs scrape
my maple floor.
I ease along the leather seat
and open up the lid with the heels
of my hands.

Daddy bought my upright-
grand piano
(Mother always says he did)
when I was twelve years old.
Crafted by a Toronto company
of note
(pardon the pun),
she’s a Heintzman.

Anyway, today’s the day
we get to play,
just her and me.
She’s a “she”.
You see, we decided that
a long time ago.

She and I have our favourites:
Schubert, Chopin,
but Kermit’s song,
we love to play,
and Elton John,
can make our day too.

Together, we struggle;
I never practiced
much as a kid, and
she’s older now,
but I got her a tune-up
for Christmas.
(Well, Mother did).

Ludwig’s Sonata comes easily
we both enjoy the ebb and flow
of waves and keys;
I stretch short fingers,
and she seems to shrink to meet them—
as if she were a friend.

Don’t ask us to share
our rare time together
(we’re a bit selfish that way),
and we don’t have
much time before
the key
is in the lock
and I go back
to my day.

Long ago, it was decided by those
in the know that
I’m no virtuosa.

my piano
wasn’t paying attention.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016

Many thanks to oglach at Na Trioblóidí for challenging me to write this piece in response to a comment I made on his blog.  I cannot recommend his blog too highly; you really must see it for yourself.

If you enjoyed this poem, you might also like these:

A Composition

Piano Man







Stage Fright

Stage Fright

It was Orwell’s year of ‘84
when I made my debut
on the stage
of a converted
called “The Copa”.

This was no place
for Hayworth or Astaire—
au contraire!
This, was a dark place
of denizens
eking out weekends
before “Manic Monday”
came round again.

It was a contest—
Karaoke before it
landed from Tokyo.
I was wigged-out
with black tresses;
swathed in layers of
black dresses,
Cleopatra’s eyes and
claret lips—
Post-punk in
a mainstream milieu.

I stepped up
to the standing mike
on the stage.

The night’s deejay
stuck the needle
in the groove
and I was on:
mouthing and moving
whining and whirling
to a pop-punk-goddess.

The bridge:
I swirled and swayed,
away from the microphone,
lost in my reverie
and the eyes of the crowd,
but Siouxsie’s song
moved along
without me.

Lips, losing sync,
hips, pushing forward
to reach that mike—
too late!
Dubbing disaster!

Big-boobed, Appolonia
won the prize
(no surprise).

So I went home
to the rehearsal space
by the bed
in my rented room,
swiped off the hair
that was fake
stripped off the cake
of makeup
and fell back
into obscurity.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009

Piano Man

His old, joint-jumped fingers
Pump the keys and he’s pleased
With what he hears.
Foot-stomping on the pedals below,
He’s goin’ goin’ with the tide
That flows from the out of tune piano.

Music, music, music!
It takes him home to
Smoke-filled rooms and dahlias in their hair.
He wears a pork-pie on his silver head,
Insignia on his hand – no wedding band.

Grimy ivories tell tall tales of
Being fingered by the greats.
He remembers all the dates—
The late-night gigs and swigging beer
‘Til dawn.

He may be losing sight,
But his touch is light—
In his head he’s still playing
To an adoring crowd,
While his decrepit heart
Keeps time.

Kat Mortensen ©2011


In my head,
the father’s mother’s father (long-dead)
is playing a tune—a runic melody;
it tumbles o’er the hills and out to sea,
to rise above the atmospheric scum,
becoming part of the universal hum—
for all eternity.

has stolen snatches;
scratches and squeals reel against the strings—
my heart sings.

I know my fingers would fumble with the rosined bow,
but my toes involuntarily tap.
My soul wraps the sound round,
and round me like the winds that whirl;
they skirl up the Mournes.

We hum.

Kat Mortensen©2011

Stuck on Bugg


Your young voice strikes, just like a lightning bolt;
I’ll have to a have a listen, one more time,
Pour two fingers, in this crystal glass,
Then I’ll pass the night with you.
I can taste it—your mellow flow,
No, I haven’t seen it all, nor tried the blow, like you.
Only few of life’s adventures, that are yours, ring true,
For me.

It’s just not so simple as this, a bit of love, a tender kiss—
Ain’t it all just hit and miss, not certain bliss?
Persist in crooning your country song;
That ends too soon, it’s so heart-strong—
Just leaves me broken down.

Now, we’re hanging out in Trouble Town,
(Going back to that “Happy Valley” in my head,)
When out of the frenzy comes the Ballad of Mr. Jones,
In your dulcet, starry-nighted tones.

Don’t think my faith in you will slide; I’m all in, not in it for the ride,
Someone told me, so I made a note to self,
Paid a price and picked you off the virtual shelf
(Keep you someplace safe.)
And it’s you I have to thank, for sparking up this thing I’ve got for Hank—.
This building fire.

Your young voice strikes …

Kat Mortensen©2014

Christmas Piece

Keeping Christmas

We did it right,
last year.
The music played – endlessly,
and we sang carols
with smiles from ear to ear.

What happened?
To make this year
so different?

We’ve lost a part of ourselves
along the way.
We sit and wait for another part
to chip away.

Our memories can hold us,
but only just.

I don’t want to light the tree,
or wrap too many packages
with pretty paper.

The only thing that can lift
my spirit and save the day

will be our faith.

Kat Mortensen©2013

A Composition

A Composition
the hand
 of music
 reaches deep
 to play
my organs— 
strumming veins
 and drumming
 with the
 of my
 its fingers dig
 into my flesh
 and blood;
 send signals
 to my brain
 a scale
 of flats
 and sharps—
 some jazzy thing
 that wings
 its way
my spine;
 leaves me
 in a vale
 of bliss—
 the hiss
of snare,
 that punctuates
 the air;
 the tumble
 of the ivories
 the harp
 that sings
and strings,
and bone,
 set the tone;
 giving voice
 to a
tidal wave
of soul 
Kat Mortensen©2012 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker

Adapted photo click image for source.

This piece was created in response to the Thursday Think Tank prompt at Poets United. Please visit the link to find other harmonious interpretations. Thank you.