Donald Wheelock: ‘Background Music’ and ‘Scandal’

Background Music

What was it that determined no event,
no item advertised on any screen,
no opportunity of peace where we
prefer an intimate and quiet meal,
no picture of a venture into space
past Saturn or past Mars, black holes,
past galaxy on galaxy of dust,
detritus, gases, rocks, hell-sent debris
the universe coughs up for our delight—

no cinematic meetings of the lips,
or shots of distant mountains in the sun,
the ocean’s power, the insect’s nervous twitch—

Who decreed we drench this all in music,
in sounds that make each of us out front
just one of Pavlov’s salivating dogs,
with distant growls, with fearful pedal tones
to “reinforce” grim documentaries,
with landfill after landfill of cliché—

all I ask, if only for a day,
is for the myriad purveyors of the noise
behind the noise, on call, online, on hold,
to please consider—if just for this one day—
turning every note of background off!

Donald Wheelock



First the hint that something’s wrong:
the woman’s name in column two—
no charges filed, although a few
bold claims suspected all along …

How skilfully she played her parts
and now this charge—to mix the shame
of cash and bribe with her good name,
her housewives, goddesses and tarts.

Now, no one dares to sing her praise,
yet to forgive (and soon), as you,
once guilty, begged them do for you,
stirs new regrets among malaise.

Donald Wheelock

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