Poem – C K Stead

John Cage at Harvard, 1988

he reads into a mike
a text he means should be
devoid of meaning.

In the semi-circle
of the wooden theatre
we’re respectful
of his fame.

A handout explains
the trouble he has taken
to achieve
a random text.

“To have so tinged”
he intones
“my Soviet sudden change …”
He gives it light and shade.

Feeling floors and walls
begin to melt and slide
I cling to grammar
and to fact.

A student
scrabbles in her bag
to silence a radio
turned on by his talk.

Under a young man’s legs
in the front row
an unscheduled dog
shakes itself.

C K Stead

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