BLUE NOTES

Written by: Cyndi MacMillan


Listen. The colors of the notes are wrong.

Where is the perfection of sapphire-chords

that I am due? Cornflower doesn’t belong

here, plotting the composition’s borders.

Master music has all fingers contorting

to fit themselves into the metronome’s tock

and these tight strings have badly distorted

my repertoire. I’ve lost both key and lock

in a palette of sorrow that canvasses pain.

Oh, the cavernous range of a rhapsody

releases those scales of anguish again

until I am concert and concert is me. 

Dissonance and harmony do not combine,

Still, under eye sockets black and blue shines.








About this Poem

This modern sonnet is inspired by both Picasso's The Old Guitarist and pianist David Helgott's struggle with mental illness. 

The movie Shine is based on Helgott's life, though one sister disputes that their father ever abused David. David had a breakdown while practicing Rachmaninoff's 3rd Concerto, a highly difficult piece. He received electric shock therapy.

Picasso's blue period is said to be the result of his poor standard of living at the time and the suicide of a dear friend. The old guitarist shows a bone thin blind man hunched over his guitar, as though boxed in by the canvas.