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New work & collaborations

Once it's been written and published, a poem can have many lives. This one ended up in a song. Mike Baluja and I have been collaborating—his music, my poems. With this piece, we both went a bit further. Using loops and other software from Sony, I put together a minimalist piece and sent it to Mike, who was working on a song titled "A New Beginning." At some point (Mike doesn't remember exactly how or when it happened), it all clicked: his music, his lyrics, my excursion into that oxymoron I call grand minimalism, and my reading of "To work against the light" (recorded in his studio). It's as close as we've ever come to a duet. Fortunately for the listener, I don't sing; I simply read the poem. Other than my voice and the strings and choir loops, Mike is responsible for all the sounds on the track.

To hear the song, click on the turntable.

Below is my poem, as it appeared in The New Republic.
Listen to the song

Click on turntable to hear
"A New Beginning," from
Baluja II: A Beautiful Dream.

To order, please click

To work against the light

To work against the light. There is no other reason for coming this
far, this early. To work against the grain. To listen. To rescue the kite cut

loose from its string. To rescue the string when the kite’s beyond
you. These are not reasons, but give them time and they will rise like

a small army. To believe that what you know is somehow better off
without you. There’s enough here to make your house stand up to

the more ambitious winds of the season. Enough for you to take up your
father’s cause, finish the long walk he was on when he slipped into

the white fields of reason. Into the trout stream. Into the music of his
numbers. There’s still enough light to make the most of an unfinished

moment, to blur the voices so that the conversation is always
sfumato, each day a witness to the rise and fall of severed

words reconstructing themselves like starfish. Possible sounds emerge
slowly, gathering strength as they approach you like the passerby, years

ago, who asked you for directions to the very spot where he
stopped you, then moved on, occasionally looking over his shoulder at

you looking over your shoulder at him until the night reduced the man
to footsteps, and distance reduced his footsteps to the night you

claim when you remember—but refuse to believe—how dark it was, how
far you walked before you lost him, how long before he found you again.

—for Matt Pérez

© 2003 Dionisio D. Martínez

Originally published in The New Republic / reprinted in Weekly Planet