Threnody for Stephen Sondheim/ by Laurence Carr

	Just when we need a new tune

I sometimes had to turn away from that 
honeyed taste of bitter root,
its savor sometimes bore too close to bone, 
that anxious vacillation, sometimes
so active it made me squirm.

Sometimes too pins and needles clever,
but after out of range 
its mist remains in front of me,
beckons me to walk though
and feel its moisture seep into 
parched skin.

He’s a guest you’re fascinated with but 
will never figure out. One you never want 
to leave, but one you need a break from.
The piercing of our armor makes for
vulnerable visits.

	The day before he left, on Thanksgiving—
	how appropriate—I’m sure that got a laugh—
	I stood at a friend’s, scanning letters from him,
	neatly matted, framed and under glass.

No big reveals, confessions, but small insightful jabs, 
here and there, a word or phrase that brought him to 
the room, over there, leaning against the bookcase. 

	The correspondence detailed songs and shows,
	on the boards and off, what projects were to come.
	I stood before his letters, the casual reader,
	unaware of history until it’s made.

	How odd to be gone.
Like a fridge or kitchen sink removed, the place feels 
empty, bare, bare walls and rugless floors, until
that song starts up again, that welcome drink of 
sweet bitters that’s been our lives,
nudging us to still be here tomorrow.

Another curtain opens, the one that brings
the sold out run with no green room 
closing notice.
	He left with his mortality, the only way
	immortality begins.
	And all we have to do is whistle.
	And he’s here.

Laurence Carr is the publisher of He writes in various mediums for a variety of publications
Photo by Eva Elijas on

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