"No man ever steps in the same river twice" (Heraclitus)


Four songs after poems by Martha Ronk for four masked players:
Exile - The Anhinga - The Moon - A Missing Jar

soprano, flute (alt. alto flute and bass flute), guitar - percussion (antique cymbals, 4 korean Gongs, chinese cymbal, Tamtam, twig brush, shocallo, hand bells, bass drum, metal disc, vibraphon, glockenspiel, suspended cymbals, 2 thunder sheets, nepalese tempel bells, water drums, guiro, Peking Opera Gong, metal chimes, Berimbao, cowbells)

composed in
1992, rev. 1994

approx. 17 min. 49 sec.

dedicated to
the Ensemble L’art pour l’art

first performance
november 12, 1993 Opera Stabile at the Staatsoper Hamburg, Germany
Ensemble L’art pour l’art
Norma Enns, soprano
Astrid Schmeling, flutes
Michael Schröder, guitars
Matthias Kaul, percussion
Ruth Tobey (Taos, New Mexico), masks


1. Exile
On this exiled isle as you say privy
to what I wouldnt otherwise listen to
, the sounds of the sea and a tough course
lapping at my sides. Directionless
as a flag subject to internal weather
and internal settings forth of a or b or c.
Composed for the unwritten or the shore
we didn’t walk to, didn’t find a way back from,
ever to be plumbed and ever deep.
Sometime’s music in the air and sometimes fish
more often a hand across a mouth
you hated me to cover
spitting out names like seagulls
up in the air crying and flitting
things of beauty, leaving and leaving.

2. The Anhinga
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
the master of the first lines declares himself
impotent, the anhinga unhinges itself
or it’s dawn and we’re stopped at the edge
of mangroves and water ebbed to mud.
It unfolds a wing like bones pulled from tar
then stiffens to dry.
Tired of what is tired to be what is tired
and lacking what it lacks as we the will
to locate a state of mind
to determine our casual affairs
hinging on highjinks and collapsible hearts
won’t work right. Unable defines
the woods and what birds can’t change.

3. The moon
Ask me no more; the moon may draw the seas
as your face explains the coffee you drink
to avoid. To walk at your side is to court
more than tides or fish swallowing what’s whole,
birds undone by their rasps
or what your eyes ask. Waves keep us coming
roil and toil as tow. It’s not a question
of whether a postcard sent’s as guilty as
betrayal or never settling down,
dashing off as casual as a hasty suitcase
rumpled pajamas in a bottom drawer.
What’s over the edge of enough’s been
poured and again the beaker is brimming.
Gone is as gone does, o moon how paper it was.

4. A missing jar
It’s been taken out, inadvertant as rain.
It’s been here and gone. It’s been on the tip
of my tongue, balanced as air. What was on
the table and exposed to view,
the excess of what’s a container at hand.
To hold off and what holds,
to keep on thinking of love
as the glazing of clouds in the sky.
If you don’t get it the first time
you never swing round again
where the winds come up on the coast
never talk about when she walked from the room
where it’s still on the shelf in the dust
you remember passing or pulling the blinds
at the time what you wanted to give away.