I once knew a musician of genius who was sucked down,
still playing his handmade harp, into a swamp of gluttonous customers. There, his impressionistic cadenzas and gorgeous passages became
the background for belchings and gruntings. Babbling diners were
his audience, clattering of knives and forks, scrapings of chairs, his only applause. The gentleman I celebrate in Restaurant Pianist suffered
the same fate, yet, somehow, no one could shed a tear...
With the sense of rhythm of a leaky tap,
in spurts and bursts, drips and tinkles,
with the hacking noise of a chopping-board
he delivers bad tempi, over-seasoned airs,
cheesy serenades from the land of backing-tracks,
stale wonders, nothings made of concrete, flops,
cooking-accidents rendered as percussive motifs,
cadenzas of mangled Chopin, ruined mazurkas,
fragments of Mantovani, grating slush,
all spilling out of ten long crab-like fingers
which scuttle left and right too efficiently:
higgledy-piggledy music from the Master.
Look! Upon a futile rostrum he is seated,
sacred king in a realm of bourgeois nonsense.
Now he shrugs in modest self-appraisal as
waiters applaud to safeguard their jobs; now
he squirms with majesty, diffident, half-shrinking,
doling-out bland heroic poses in white:
this serenading monster of the restaurant.
O please! Ban the performing monkey!