Levi Wagenmaker ~ Three Nights at the Opera


that night at the opera

the woman with the horribly disfigured face
suspected secondary motives
when I asked her out
to a night of Wagner
she murmured that Hitler loved Wagner
but when I told her that I felt certain
of Hitler’s giving the opera house a miss
that night
she accepted my invitation
with something distantly recognisable
as a smile

opera audiences consist entirely
of civilised and cultured persons
and so before the lights went down
and after they came on again
eyes studiously ignored my companion
no sly whispering
no giggles drowned out by parents’ sudden
bouts of coughing
none of those present had brought
(if they had any at all)
any children

but while the audience sat back
in shadowy black-out conducive
to refined enjoyment
on stage
Wagner’s Valkyries did all
the screaming

Hitler would have loved it


another night at the opera

the composer Misha Mindipov
is not a Russian man
in fact
not a man at all
but a woman born in transit
on a transatlantic flight
her mother…
there had not been a father
was all that woman ever declared
although she did not divagate
into stories of miraculous conception
and extra painful (for obvious reasons)
virgin birth
she just forgot to divagate
into registering the infant girl
upon landing or at any later time
so in later life the child
chose the pseudonym by which she
became known to a small but select number
of musical insiderati
acknowledging affiliation
to the En Masse Musical Minimalists
MIndipov’s scores clearly stipulated
that her operatic work should be exclusively
performed aboard large aircraft known as bombers
and only during nightly raids
by singers especially adept at singing like
the Scala died


the day after the other night at the opera

operatic singers had agreed to forego
their habitual emoluments and perform
in forma pauperis for the greater
good of the nation (or whatever)

so that a medley of well-known operatic
highlights would be performed at the Amsterdam
Opera House at no cost to the public

the performance being made accessible
free of charge as expected appealed
to quite a few of those of the Dutch
eager to be considered as being
culturally engaged
and so they turned up by the bus-load

that night at the entrance an old man
wild of mane had posted a large burlap sack
full of shelled and salted peanuts
which he chewed thoroughly
(but without swallowing)
he held up a sign offering visitors
that he would spit such thoroughly chewed
peanuts into both their ears
for a small consideration
before they went in to the opera house
the offer was completely ignored by all
and there were mutterings from which
the word nut could be discerned

the wild-maned old man was still there
at the start of the interval one hour later
and this time he pocketed quite a bit
of cash and a journalist
arranged for his photograph to be taken
while he plied his nightly trade

the photograph appeared in the Monday editions
of morning and evening papers
to illustrate the news
that a young woman had lost the use
of both her ears when she destroyed
both her ear-drums with a kitchen-knife

in an attempt to maximise the profit
from her investment made at an otherwise free
night out at the Amsterdam opera house
while preparing a sandwich smeared
with what was much like peanut butter
orally inserted into both her ears
by a wild-maned old man distantly
related to Lucia di Lammermoor


 Levi Wagenmaker (1944 – ) is a retired journalist, living in the Netherlands for most of the year, and in France for some of it, with three bitches, two of whom are dogs. Enamoured life-long of language (and languages), for reasons immaterial to the act he writes poetry in English only, even if he could most likely manage it in a few other tongues. His poems have been published online more than in print – and Danse Macabre is very proud to count themselves among such of Levi’s ports of call. Ye Olde Google will tell the curious all the whats, wherefores, and when-nots.

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