Creatures (2015)

Performance:  SUNY-New Paltz College-Community Chorale directed by Edward Lundergan; Gary Palmieri, piano

Notes:  Creatures is a set of three pieces for concert choir and piano. The common denominator is the fact that they are based on poems about living creatures.

"To See a Fox" is a setting of a poem of the same name by Richard Parisio, a naturalist and writer living in New Paltz, New York, from his book, The Owl Invites Your Silence. The musical setting reflects the wonder and surprise of the poet, unexpectedly encountering a fix while driving on a dark road.

"Book Lice" depicts a conversation between a loving pair of -- book lice. These are tiny insects which are commonly found in old books - they feed upon the paste used in binding. The poem of the same name is found in California poet Paul Fleishman's book Joyful Noise - Poems for Two Voices, writtten to be read by two people at once. My setting is bouncy and humorous, as I protray the devoted, but very different, couple.

"Honeybee" is a setting of Roger Roloff's poem To an Old, Dear Friend, from his book Natural Gifts. Roger, who wanders the hills and forests of New Paltz, New York, portrays his deep respect for the diligence and importance of this now endangered friend of mankind; my sertting is an attempt to reflect this respect.

To See a Fox (Richard Parisio)

Fox.mp3  3


I tunneled like a miner through the night

immured in steel, along a road whose curves

unspooled before me, darker for my light.


My way was fixed ahead except for swerves

when a pale form caught my headlights' glare,

a fox, whose silence spoke to all my nerves.


His leaping forth electrified the air -

a meteor in quickening grace.

Foxes are common - but to see one, there!


I saw him turn, I saw his pointed face

pose questions to the trembling dark

he might have asked for all his furtive race


until he leapt and vanished like a spark

and left a throbbing stillness in his place.


Book Lice (Paul Fleishman)

Lice.mp3  3:05


I was born in a While I started life
fine old edition of Schiller in a private eye thriller
We're book lice who dwell We're book lice who dwell
in these dusty bookshelves. In these dusty bookshelves.
Later I lodged in While I passed my youth
Scott's works - volume 50 in an Agatha Christie
We're book lice attached We're book lice attached
despite contrasting pasts. despite contrasting pasts.
One day, while in search of He fell down seven shelves
a new place to eat where we happened to meet
We're book lice who chew We're book lice who chew
on the bookbinding glue. on the bookbinding glue.
We honeymooned in an
old guidebook on Greece
I missed Conan Doyle,
he pined for his Keats
We're book lice fine mates We're book lice fine mates
despite different tastes despite different tastes.
So we set up our home Not far from my mysteries
inside Roget's Thesaurus close to his Horace
We're book lice adoring We're book lice adoring
despite her loud snoring. despite his loud snoring.
And there we've resided He nearby his Shakespeare
and there we'll remain I near my Spillane
We're book-loving book lice We're book-loving book lice
which I'm certain I read  
in a book some months back plain proof of the fact
that opposites often are known that opposites often are known
to attact. to attact.

Honeybee (To an Old, Dear Friend - Roger Roloff)

Bee.mp3  5:30


Oh honeybee, the first I've seen

this sudden spring now barely green:

drink deep from nectar's uncapped wells;

spread dust of life among fresh smells

crisscrossing wakened woods and fields;

claim virgin blooms young April yields.


Show once again the sacred art

you, and your busy kin made part

forever of the world I know

which soon with green will overflow.


Remind me that I stand on Earth

and not above it, for man's worth

requires full lives of countless flowers

you're born to breed with swift, sure powers.


Teach me anew, if I forget

at times this dear, longstanding debt,

how much it means not to be free,

but useful as the honeybee.


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