EZRA POUND’S TROMBONE (IN A MUSEUM IN GENOA)
Frankly, it could have been anybody’s trombone.
I wouldn’t know one from another.
It was shiny, looked old.
The guide watched me closely
As if I were just the sort of Ezra Pound nut
Who would smash open the glass case
And either steal it, or worse,
Start to play the damn thing.
Not a chance.
Pound’s imagist stuff was all right,
In its way, and obviously his editing
Helped make The Waste Land what it was
But in the end he went crazy
As many of us do, and as anybody
Who’s studied him knows, spouted
All kinds of Anti-Semitic, Nazi nonsense
And got himself locked up.
Perhaps it was for the best.
At the end of his life he claimed
He wasn’t a lunatic, just a moron.
So I guess a trombone-playing moron.
I wondered about the trombone
And why it was here in a run-down museum
In a dodgy part of the Italian city where
He was shut away in a hospital.
Did some wise-guy chancer find it
Propped in a corner of a junk shop
And having read that the old boy had died
(In Venice, near enough and far enough)
Took a chance with the museum director
And produced a scribbled receipt
That read Sold To Me by E. Pound,
Genoa, 10th January 1966?
If so, hopefully he got a good price.
And so I stood there, staring at it,
For too long, in an otherwise dull
Museum, wondering if Pound
Ever played the trombone, not
Just this one, any trombone,
In all of his long, weird life.
The guide hovered ever closer
As if suspecting I’d rumbled them.
I tapped the glass to alarm her more
And, seeing her jump, moved on
To a case of prehistoric pots,
Most of which were broken.
[I have a fondness for this piece, on the grounds that after a reading someone asked me the name of the museum in Genoa because they were about to go there on a trip. I said I couldn’t remember – I didn’t have the courage to admit I’ve never been to Genoa, nor have I seen a trombone that might or might not have been owned by Ezra Pound…Sometimes it’s just good to have fun…]