Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

No One Knows Why

by Linda Bryant

Beethoven dumped ice water
over his head when composing, his living
room covered with asphalt to keep
water from seeping through. Deaf, hopeless
& bedridden he left the world shaking
his dying blue fist at a thunderstorm while invoking
Augustus: Applaud my friends the comedy
is over. Stravinsky

stood on his head for 15 minutes
every morning because it rests
the head & clears the brain. Gertrude Stein preferred
writing with a cow in plain
sight. With Alice, she’d recklessly
drive country roads in their early
model Ford until she sensed the just
right spot, where she mused on a stool—if the cow
didn’t fit the mood, they’d drive along
to the next cow. After The Waste Land,
Eliot wore pale green
face powder. No one knows why, but his
biographer suggested it made him look the poet rather
than bank official. In college

I swooned to Satie’s hypnotic
Gymnopédie No. 1. On snowy days I’d wrap
myself in a crocheted afghan the color of wild
violets, part the long
linen drapes & behold the delicate
falling. For 27 years, it’s said, not
one soul entered Satie’s shabby
apartment. After he died from cirrhosis they found 100
umbrellas, 84 handkerchiefs & piles
of letters stuffed into his two
concert grands, most written to himself.
Before the private stashing

& when he was 21
there was Suzanne Valadon,
his one great love. Satie bestowed
her with necklaces made of sausages, while she
crafted her own corsages from fresh
carrots. In oil, they painted portraits
of each other; they sailed toy boats on the public duck
pond in Luxembourg Gardens. After six
months she left him & for 30 years
he penned letters of abiding
love. No one knows why

he donned grey velvet suits
exclusively & consumed only white
food—coconut, rice
& shredded bones. I have a good
appetite, but never talk
when eating for fear
of strangling myself, he said,
adding, we should have a music
of our own—if possible—
without any sauerkraut.


—Honorable Mention, the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2017; first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2017-18 (Garden Oak Press, February 2018) and appears here with permissions from the publisher and the poet


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Linda Bryant

works in Nashville as a communicator (journalism, public relations, and marketing) and lives near honky-tonks and recording studios, just down the street from Music Row and the largest vinyl record-pressing plant in the country. Her stories and articles have been published in newspapers and magazines since the 1980s. She also has a vigorous parallel life as a poet, teacher, nonfiction writer, crafter, and “upcycler”—she makes jewelry out of barn wood, broken plates, buttons, and castaway pieces of costume jewelry. During the Great Recession, Bryant pursued an MFA in poetry, realizing a long-held dream. Her poems appear in small journals, and she has received two national fellowships for her writing.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury