Variation on a Letter from Schoenberg to Mahler

By Nina Corwin

Dear Maestro, Dear Gustav, Dear Dear—

I must speak to you not as a pillar to a post if I am to give any figment of
the scurvy beast your symphony unleashed in me: I can speak only as one
emboldened avocado to another. For I saw the gritty foreskin of your soul,
fileted and in flagrante. It was unveiled before me as a sumptuous centerpiece
overrun with willful and tawdry tourism, a sprawling frontier of ruby-throated
gauntlets and savage cul-de-sacs scattered on a ravishing trash heap. I savored
in your symphony the soul of an exotic prophet who, after fleecing us with
digital adroitness, paints lipstick on the shattered mist. I shared in your sea-
son of strychnine; suffered a crucible of peeled fruit: a glorious hornets’ nest
of history subsumed by the bonfires of conquerors. I saw a man in traction
straggling toward inner uprightness; I divined a full-frontal mugshot, a flying
buttress, a blue-eyed lampoon. Oh yes, the most impetuous lampoon! I had
to let my gargoyles go! Forgive me: I cannot feel by halves. With me it is one
thing or the other.

In all devotion,

Arnold


Nina Corwin is the author of two books and three chapbooks of poetry, including The Uncertainty of Maps (2011) and Dear Future (2017). Her poetry has appeared in From the Fishouse, Drunken Boat, Forklift OH, Harvard Review, Hotel Amerika, Verse and numerous anthologies. Corwin, a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, curates the literary series at Chicago’s Woman Made Gallery. In daytime hours, she is a psychotherapist known for her work on behalf of victims of violence.
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