friday feast: toying with words

This post is dedicated to Little Willow and Jules of 7-Imp, who asked that I play a song for them on my newly tuned piano.

“To me, the piano in itself is an orchestra.” ~ Cecil Taylor

Margaret Leng Tan, internationally acclaimed toy piano diva


Hello. I will now tickle the ivories.

I’m going to play the one where I try to feed a squirrel peanut butter from the edge of my finger and he eagerly nips at it but then he has trouble swallowing it and kippity coughs the tiniest little cough ever that I fear I have choked him to death but then he recovers whew! *Bowing*

Did you like it? I played lots of songs like that when I was little. I had good piano hands, they all said. I’ve grown up married to keyboards.

At my computer, I try to tap out doodle-ee-doo and dum da dum and zwee zwees tinkily plink all by theirselves. Cue in ripple-n-run, buds blooming out melodies and sync syncopation suave and smooth.

What a life, to play stories.

Where’s the music? Listen to the spaces between the notes and words I caress and cajole out of my keyboard, blacks and whites. See the pictures. Feel the feels.

Poetry is music.

Music is poetry.

A keyboard is a keyboard. Play those notes, man, and create what you will. Play loud.


by Tony Hoagland

Play the one about the family of ducks
where the ducks go down to the river
and one of them thinks the water will be cold
but then they jump in anyway
and like it and splash around.

No, I must play the one
about the nervous man from Palestine in row 14
with a brown bag in his lap
in which a gun is hidden in a sandwich.

Play the one about the handsome man and woman
standing on the steps of her apartment
and how the darkness and her perfume and the beating of their hearts
conjoin to make them feel
like leaping from the edge of chance —

(Rest is here.)

Variations on many poetic themes can be found today at Becky’s Book Reviews.

CODA: Margaret Leng Tan turns toys into art, with a nod to the Beatles.


“Concerto for Toy Piano,” played by Keith Kirchoff, is here, if you like your stories highbrow.