Oyster Boy Review 04  
  Spring 1996
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» Levee 67


Choral Warnings

Kevin McGowin

Hey you choirs, intonating the motets of Lassus!
Hey you choral groups, singing out
In pristine polyphony!
There are rules! No one ever got to B-flat

Without knowing which way the wind's
Gonna blow.
When bitten by a snake in South Carolina
Beside the craft you took out white-water

Rafting, cut your flesh in the mark of the cross,
And suck that poison out. Suck it out, now,
And spit it, before it has time to seep
Into your mucus membranes, and wash
Out your mouth, and spit that out, too,

And then kill the snake.
And then, kill that fucker.
                    If you have
A hoe handy, use it, or if you have a gun,
Use that too,

And aim just to the left of the head,
when you do.
            Second, when trying out for Rigoletto,
Don't project the same way you do when singing
Monteverdi, but execute more vibrato,

And do it with more passion. I speak with the voice
Of experience: I've been turned down forty-seven
Dad-blain times, (but never complained),
Just sang louder. Sir, I put it to you:

      Third, and finally,
Got a fiddle handy? Not a reboc,
Or a viola da gamba, mind you, but just a good old
Roll-in-the-hay kind of stringed-up device,
In case all else fails,

                Which it will.
Take that thing and wring its neck like a
Stalk of asparagus you're having trouble
Yanking out of the ground,
                      And run that bow across

Those old cat-guts, and give it your fire!
Give it your steam, hey! It's like Robert Fulton,
Drunk on ripple and sailing down the Mississippi,
Knowing that even though those steam engine barge-whistles
May not sound so good,

At least they'll be heard
Till the sun goes down.