The Marching Band

The notes were floating
they cut through the air
and when they reached me
they were barely there…..
but I heard them
soaking up, soaking
the early evening sun
wafting, waving inside me
I could hear each player’s note
each marching members aria
calling to me in the distance
their resonance barely finding me
suffering the loss of space between us
scarcely crawling to me
reaching me as only a hum
a beating, distant hum
that marching band on the hill
so far away, that junior high
That memory scorched into me
forty or so years ago
the lovely, lovely night air
the blossoms everywhere
throwing papers onto porches
shushing the McDaniel’s dog
saying hello to David’s house
as I did every day
remembering how we’d play
since he died so young.
That beautiful, wonderful old woman
on the corner of 17th and “E”
whose husband suffered a stroke
she loved him so dearly.
She would lead him to the drive
to sit every day, he enjoyed the wind.
He scared me so
unable to talk, his face contorted
his desperate eyes searching
but only for a friend
I know that now
but not then.
She knew I was scared, I think
I didn’t say, but it must have been on my face.
So she kept him in
locked him away
took away that part of his day
at newspaper time
I hate myself for that
And the marching band played and played
their soft inflection barely haunting my young ears
me thinking of them so far away
seeing them in my mind
red uniforms with gold frilly tassels
sweating underneath, carefully
finding that right step
of course the smallest of them all
lugging that huge drum around
sometimes I wonder, sometimes
what they are doing today
even as I write away
Did the piccolo player find love?
Are his children hugging him now?
does he remember that day
when his notes came my way
It was so long ago
this memory burned into me
I get to keep it forever
like a thief of life’s most wonderful things

© 2011 John Richter

About johnallenrichter

I am an aspiring Poet and adorer of life, a conqueror of nothing. However I am a champion curator of truth and friendship and hold both of those things most dearly to my heart. Welcome to my mind's eye. I hope you will enjoy what you may find and please know that you have a friend here. View all posts by johnallenrichter

9 responses to “The Marching Band

  • zumpoems

    Truly excellent. Nice musical A-B-A form with coda. You transport us back, not a single necessary image or reference point missing.

    The contracts in the “B” section is like a key-change — and that B section itself is A-B-A really.

    The process of reminiscing is well mimicked here. The initial memory — the shift to something less pleasant — the return and then expansion of the original thought.

    This is so very well crafted and flows so well! A real pleasure and delight to read!

  • willowdot21

    That is such an evocative poem. How a sound, a smell or a face can awake a long forgotten memory, and leads to another . I have a memory like the fear of the old man, how we impacted on their lives and our young heads not knowing the cause or effect of our actions. A wonderful thought provoking poem on past, present and future. Where are our friends and acquaintances of old. May the marching Band march on through our minds forever! Thank you for sharing John XX

  • Voyages Vistas Vino

    You’re setting the bar high, John. I love poetry that is inspired by music and that inspires music to be played within one’s head. Myself, I think that the best poetry is written while listening to jazz. There is such a kindred relationship between the two arts.



  • Mary

    John, you put so many memories and feelings into this poem. It is sometimes wonderful to go back in time to those times of “wonderful things.” Enjoy the music and the memories!

  • Ravenblack

    Interesting how hearing something sometimes transports us back to the time when it was more familiar, especially when we have not heard in a long time. Several glimpses of the narrator’s past seen here — of how he saw things, of how he didn’t understand a neighbor with regret and a wonderment on how someone remembered might be doing today. That last bit is the most relate-able for me, because one does look back and think “whatever happened to this..? I don’t remember the name but I remember the face.”

    Thanks for your poem. A real pleasure to read.

  • Jannie Funster

    Ahh, super-super wonderful, John. I can see the old man in the wind and feel her care and love for him. Brings tears to my eyes. What we think when we are kids, eh. Perceptions change.

    Junior High — such a time for vivid memories. I have quite a few from that era myself!

    Lovely you got to experience the marching band music. And shared your heart here in this.


  • manicddaily

    Very lovely poem, John, so musical and vivid and yet the interior monologue has such a strong, interior, sort of voice as well, the interweave between scene, as seen through child’s eyes, and memory. Lovely cadence too. Really beautiful.

  • Shawna

    Okay, it’s been almost a month. Surely it’s time to write a new poem, John. 🙂 Come up for air. Sometimes all you need is to take a really deep breath and exhale some poetry. Then you’ll feel all better.

  • jenneandrews

    Extremely beautiful poem, John. I’m with Shawna: come up for air. xxxxj

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