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#1816 - Wednesday, June 2, 2004 - Editor: Jerry

This issue features beat poetry from a site discovered by Mary Bianco -- -- called Celestial Homework. The last piece is a recent newspaper article on music thanatology. Somehow I think all these selections come together to form a wholly poetic issue, at least to my way of seeing things.

The Bells
by Edgar Allan Poe

Hear the sledges with the bells --
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells --
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells --
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

Hear the loud alarum bells --
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now–now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells --
Of the bells --
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells --
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells --
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people–ah, the people --
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone --
They are neither man nor woman --
They are neither brute nor human --
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells --
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells --
Of the bells, bells, bells --
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells --
Of the bells, bells, bells:
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells --
Bells, bells, bells --
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Regalia in Immediate Demand !
by Philip Whalen

Necklace of human bones
Cup a silver-mounted cranium
Thigh-bone trumpets
A skull drum

Dear President Nixon, you are welcome in Lhasa!
And where is dear Mr Edgar Hoover?


A Poem for Trapped Things
by John Wieners

This morning with a blue flame burning
this thing wings its way in.
Wind shakes the edges of its yellow being.
Gasping for breath.
Living for the instant.
Climbing up the black border of the window.
Why do you want out.
I sit in pain.
A red robe amid debris.
You bend and climb, extending antennae.

I know the butterfly is my soul
grown weak from battle.

A Giant fan on the back of
a beetle.
A caterpillar chrysalis that seeks
a new home apart from this room.

And will disappear from sight
at the pulling of invisible strings.
Yet so tenuous, so fine
this thing is, I am
sitting on the hard bed, we could
vanish from sight like the puff
off an invisible cigarette.
Furred chest, ragged silk under
wings beating against the glass

no one will open.

The blue diamonds on your back
are too beautiful to do
away with.
I watch you
all morning
With my hand over my mouth.

Antonin Artaud

One can speak of the good mental health of Van Gogh who, in his whole adult life, cooked only one of his hands and did nothing else except once to cut off his left ear,
in a world in which every day one eats vagina cooked in green sauce or penis of newborn child whipped and beaten to a pulp,
just as it is when plucked from the sex of its mother.
And this is not an image, but a fact abundantly and daily repeated and cultivated throughout the world.
And this, however delirious this statement may seem, is how modern life maintains its old atmosphere of debauchery, anarchy, disorder, delirium, derangement, chronic insanity, bourgeois inertia, psychic anomaly (for it is not man but the world which has become abnormal), deliberate dishonesty and notorious hypocrisy, stingy contempt for everything that shows breeding.
insistence on an entire order based on the fulfillment of a primitive injustice, in short, of organized crime.
Things are going badly because sick consciousness has a vested interest right now in not recovering from its sickness. This is why a tainted society has invented psychiatry to defend itself against the investigations of certain superior intellects whose faculties of divination would be troublesome.
...In comparison with the lucidity of Van Gogh, which is a dynamic force, psychiatry is no better than a den of apes who are themselves obsessed and persecuted and who possess nothing to mitigate the most appalling states of anguish and human suffocation but a ridiculous terminology,
worthy product of their damaged brains.

An excerpt from "Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society," originally published in Paris, in 1947.

I Know A Man
Robert Creeley

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking,--John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.,1,7688140.story?coll=chi-news-hed

`Music vigils' seek to comfort the dying

At bedside in hospices and homes, harpists play
melodies intended to ease patients' pain and
stress in their last days

By Lisa Black Tribune staff reporter
Published June 2, 2004

After checking Bernadine Weiner's pulse,
breathing pattern and temperature, the two
harpists set up their instruments on either side
of the woman's bed.

Delicate but deliberate, the music played by
Margaret Pasquesi and Tony Pederson drew tears
from family members who sat in Weiner's hospice
room in Skokie.

"She was clearly touched," said Jeff Weiner,
whose 78-year-old mother is dying of pulmonary
fibrosis. It was the first time in days, he said,
that he had seen her lucid and smiling.

It's not unusual for a patient to die while
Pasquesi and Pederson perform one of their
death-bed "music vigils."

Trained to ease the pain and emotional stress of
dying, the harpists recently kept playing as the
family of a woman at Rush North Shore Medical
Center came to the realization that their loved
one had passed away, Pederson said.

"Her breaths were shallower and shorter," he
said. "The music got bigger and more expansive.
There was more freedom. The son, he gave me a
really big hug afterward."

Known as music-thanatology, the work of harpists
such as Pasquesi and Pederson is the latest
service offered by hospices responding to an
increasing demand for end-of-life care.

There are only 50 practitioners in the world,
three of whom work in the Chicago area, according
to the movement's founder, who chose the name
based on the Greek term for death, thanatos.

"This is about families and communities, and
respecting them in their entirety," said Dr.
Martha Twaddle, medical director of Palliative
CareCenter & Hospice of the North Shore, which
pays Pasquesi and Pederson a salary for their
full-time jobs. "This brings that sacredness to
it. You are not just a medical procedure."

Paged by a doctor as death approaches, Pasquesi,
33, and Pederson, 34, perform as many as three
vigils a day, using music they improvise to ease
specific symptoms and relax patients.

After checking the patient's pulse and breathing
pattern, they set up their harps on either side
of the bed, usually as family members watch and
wait. Although some people die as the harpists
play their delicate, slowly paced music, it's
more common for death to come hours or even days
later, the musicians say.

Study is under way

The first study of the effects of
music-thanatology is under way at Sacred Heart
Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., and hospice
operators say they have witnessed the impact
harpists can have on the lives of patients.

The founder of music-thanatology, Therese
Schroeder-Sheker, who grew up in Des Plaines,
oversaw the certification of all 50 graduates of
her school, the Chalice of Repose, formerly
located in Missoula, Mont. Starting next year,
she plans to offer a certification program for
music-thanatology at the Catholic University of
America in Washington, D.C.

Schroeder-Sheker said she began developing
music-thanatology more than 30 years ago, while
working in a Denver nursing home, where she was
disturbed by the suffering of people who died

She said she realized the soothing effects of
music when she held an elderly man in her arms
and noticed how his frantic breathing relaxed as
she sang Gregorian chants to him. Using her
musical background, she drew inspiration for
music-thanatology from the spiritual and
medicinal traditions of reformed Benedictine
monks who founded a monastery in Cluny, France,
in the 10th Century.

"The spirituality of the work and the intimacy of
the work is so powerful," said Schroeder-Sheker,
of Mt. Angel, Ore. "My humility has grown
tremendously from seeing and understanding how
tender people really are, how vulnerable people
really are."

At Chalice of Repose, her students learned about
human anatomy and physiology, death and dying,
the spiritual journey and medieval theology.

Pasquesi and Pederson are among the few Chalice
graduates who work as a team, a practice
encouraged by the school as a way to surround the
patient with music.

Pederson enrolled at the Chalice of Repose after
he saw the calming effect music-thanatologists
had on patients at a nursing home where he

Pasquesi, a former "punk rock girl" from the
North Shore, said she learned about
music-thanatology from a TV news show. "What I
heard was beauty, and I saw that music had an
impact on the body," said Pasquesi, who sang with
a jazz band while working on her master's degree
in interdisciplinary arts at Columbia College in
Chicago. "I knew I needed to contact them."

In the past year, Pasquesi and Pederson have
provided 569 vigils, packing their harps in their
Toyota Corolla hatchback after being paged. Most
take place at nursing homes or at Palliative
CareCenter's hospice unit at Rush North Shore
Medical Center in Skokie. Other vigils are held
in private homes.

The couple consider their job not so much a
performance as a prescription targeting specific
problems. Sometimes that means playing the same
notes over and over, reflecting the patient's
breathing or helping encourage a change in

Vigils can last hours

Their vigils, which can also include melodic
singing or humming, last from 30 minutes to
several hours.

Often the patients are unresponsive or begin the
session crying out in pain; some fall asleep.

The harp is the best instrument for their work,
music-thanatologists say, because of its
versatility, allowing for pleasant sounds that
don't have to follow a melody or traditional
rhythm. The patient may also be soothed by the
harp's wood frame and the motion of the harpist's
hands plucking and stroking the strings.

Dr. Joshua Hauser, a physician at Northwestern
Memorial Hospital and an instructor who teaches
end-of-life care, said there is a need for fresh
approaches to deal with the dying.

"Part of palliative care is thinking creatively
and broadly about what might help people, and
that can be things around art or music or other
innovative approaches," Hauser said. "One also
wants to understand if they work and study them."

In the study of music-thanatology at Sacred Heart
Medical Center, data is being collected on up to
300 people served by the harpists, said Sharon
Murfin, a former faculty member of Chalice of

The study will try to measure patients'
physiological and emotional changes, said Murfin.
The music-thanatologists will provide reports on
the patients before and after the vigils.

Music-thanatology is part of the broader world of
music therapy, an established health-care
profession in which music is used to help
patients cope with disease or disabilities.
Music-thanatologists earn an average annual
salary of $40,000 to $45,000, according to the
Music-Thanatology Association International based
in Eugene, Ore.

However, unlike traditional music therapists,
music-thanatologists work only with the dying.
They undergo different training and usually don't
counsel patients or families on grief, or play
songs familiar to their clients.

While health insurance does not cover
music-thanatology, music therapy costs are
reimbursed about 20 percent of the time,
according to the American Music Therapy
Association in Silver Spring, Md.

People who have watched the harpists say they are
sold on its benefits.

Pasquesi and Pederson have visited Louise Leding,
85, every week since October at her daughter's
Kildeer home. Leding, who has dementia, cannot
communicate or move."She is entranced," said her
daughter, Lisa Battin, who said her mother always
stares intently at Pasquesi as she plays.

Pasquesi said she has learned much about life,
and death.

"I used to feel like I knew what an after-life
would be like," she said. "I have learned, I have
no clue. I do know that, at death, everyone is
all right. They're taken care of."

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