Killing the Piano

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We tried to save you with small ads.

Free to good home, must collect

but nobody called.


We tried schools and churches,

community centres,

but none were prepared to accommodate you.

No room for the past,

no use for tradition,

and each back turned

was another key condemned.


Once we dragged you a hundred miles north,

and later a hundred back,

my faithful friend as I learnt how to play,

from Three Blind Mice

to Für Elise and the Nut Rocker.


But for years you stood,

lid down, barely touched,

except by the clumsy fists of children,

bashing a blind fortissimo,

untroubled by rhythm or melody,

unaware that every good boy deserves favour.


For years you stood,

an obstacle,

an inconvenience,

silently slipping out of tune.


It fell to me to strike the killing blow,

consign you to the fate we’d tried to swerve.

Behind the crack of splintering walnut

I could hear a heart



This is the title poem from my pamphlet, 'Killing the Piano', published by Half Moon Books. It also appeared in The Poets Republic Issue 5.

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Big Sal

Mon 6th Aug 2018 01:14

Here in the States, pianos are like narwhals: kids think they're myths, there's not nearly enough to go around, and the beauty is unsurpassed in its original form. Good thing there's poets to remember them.

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Hazel ettridge

Fri 22nd Jun 2018 20:45

Just want to cry.

<Deleted User> (19708)

Fri 22nd Jun 2018 16:25

The disappearing arts. Sad times indeed.


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Robert Black

Wed 9th May 2018 18:28

Loved this one and its reflection on the general by using the particular. Letting go eh? It's a bugger. Thanks Joe.

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Trevor Alexander

Mon 30th Apr 2018 15:06

A poignant tale. The piano serves as a nostalgic link to the past, but takes up too much space in a modern life. The modern, electronic ones stay in tune, sound pretty good (to an untrained ear, at least), but don't have the charisma of a 'real' piano.

Frances Macaulay Forde

Thu 26th Apr 2018 03:35

A beautiful tribute, written with tenderness.
My mother always regretted the lose of her baby grand - sold by her step-mother without permission.
My brother bought my mother an upright, many years later, in Africa but I don't know what happened to it... one day I came home from a working holiday and it was gone.
My man brought his electric upright with him and I love it but wish he'd play it for me more often.
Although, the last big family-from-Ireland reunion involved a sing-a-long with Uncle Billy at the piano and my man on guitar - such good craic!
There are lots of reasons I love this poem - not least of which it's inspiring! Hmmmm...

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Wed 25th Apr 2018 22:25

This is particularly poignant and relevant to me Joe, as I have been a pro pianist for fifty years, and inherited the love of the instrument from my father, who was a good player. It was common for most families to have a piano - a matter of pride, and there were many music shops selling song copies. There were dozens of manufacturers in the UK, street parties had them out of doors etc etc. I sold mine for £100 after 30 years use. The cost of tuning and transporting other nails in the coffin.( I believe Lloyd Webber still has one, so that's ok.) It's actually cheaper to buy a Chinese piano than to restore one now.

Great writing with plenty of heft .


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Wed 25th Apr 2018 21:57

A sad note, but music to my ears,well done.

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Hannah Collins

Wed 25th Apr 2018 18:24

No one wanted the piano.
Moving and sad, beautifully written.


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keith jeffries

Wed 25th Apr 2018 12:49

a touching poem to which I can so well relate. I often wonder how many young people of today are learning to play this beautiful instrument or have mobile phones got in the way? Thank you. Keith

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