The Cardboard Piano

by David Garate

(Within the confines of a shoebox, amongst a vast crowd of paperfish).

He is laborious,
The one on the cardboard piano.
One of many who climb the stairs
And waltz on stage.
Like the many he appears dandy,
Ready to impress the stands.
And like the many he impresses no one.
So, without wasting more time,
He glides swiftly off the stage.

Another one then climbs.
He is frantic on the cardboard piano,
Erupting the keys into a shower of ecstasy,
Pinching garnish for those who drink,
Confetti for those who dance.
But on the floor is it a repellent
For whom the crowd had just encouraged.
Without keys, without tune
He is crushed by a mountain of keys.

Another one rises again to the occasion.
He proclaims to the bartender:
“Change the mood of blue so dreary;
We will sing orange, the crowd will cheer me!”
The mood is changed to a warm hue,
The keys are returned.
The crowd of paperfish light thin tapers in their drinks.
And the glasses gleamed bold,
A constellation of joy and suspense.
His fins hover above with tense precaution
But his fins chop between every key.
Clanking a foul racket of knives upon the cardboard.
There are no keys on the ground to repel him off the stage,
So the crowd, in agony, bellows his name.
He flaps his fins, wiggles his gills—encore!
It’s an encore!
Thus, he resumes playing until the shrieks meld him to the ground,
A carpet for the many who will later climb the stairs,
A coaster for when they are repelled out.

David Garate is an English major, born and raised in Queens.

Image Credit: “Playing Piano,” Nayuki,CC BY 2.0.