Music Box Steps – George Longenecker

Over and over Laurel and Hardy
haul a piano up steep steps
from Vendome Street to Descanso Drive.
In 1931 black and white, much of L.A.
is still open chaparral, smog-free.

Again and again they push and pull
up a hundred and thirty one cement steps,
only to have the crated piano slip
then bounce back down, discordant
notes clanging across Silver Lake.

We laugh, watching them push and shove
then slip backwards —like Sisyphus—
their piano rolls out of control again,
nearly crushing a mother and baby.

Finally they push their burden
to the top and deliver the piano,
only to find there was an easy way around—
they could have driven to the house.

Today homes fill every lot along the steps,
white stucco, tile roofs, green shutters.
Lush jade plants grow close to the path,
from a screened window a cat watches.

I take a few photos and a clipping of jade,
look up just to be sure there’s no piano
crashing down, but Laurel, and Hardy
are long gone; unlike Sisyphus
they didn’t have to push their piano forever.


Longenecker’s poetry has appeared in Whale Road Review, Vermont Literary Review,
Sixfold, Poetry Quarterly and Saranac Review. He lives in Middlesex, VT.

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