552: Hammond B3 Organ Cistern

552: Hammond B3 Organ Cistern

552: Hammond B3 Organ Cistern


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

There isn’t enough praise for ordinary living. Sure, we may gather for the holidays, or celebrate weddings, or significant moments of real joy, the big wins, the markers of time. But what about the day-to-day living? I think we need more awards for that. More awards for putting on our shoes and going to the office, or brushing our teeth in the morning, doing the dishes.

I was once on the subway in New York City at some ungodly hour. It was maybe six in the morning and I had to be in the office to set something up for a sales meeting, meet a caterer, I can’t remember. But I was surprised at how busy the subway was that early. Folks had their kids all ready for school. People had lunches packed and coffee in their hands. I remember having the overwhelming feeling of wanting to shout, “I am so proud of us!” at the top of my lungs.

And I was proud. Life is like that. You think you’re just slogging along and then something reminds you that just getting up in the morning and choosing to live is something miraculous. I try to hold that with me. I need to hold that with me.

In today’s poem, we witness the rapture that comes when you’ve come out the other side of sadness, shaken off the blues, and entered the world again. A warning, this poem does mention suicidal ideation so feel free to skip this episode.

But at the core of this poem is the light that comes after the clouds have cleared.

Hammond B3 Organ Cistern
by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

The days I don’t want to kill myself
are extraordinary. Deep bass. All the people
in the streets waiting for their high fives
and leaping, I mean leaping,
when they see me. I am the sun-filled
god of love. Or at least an optimistic
under-secretary. There should be a word for it.
The days you wake up and do not want
to slit your throat. Money in the bank.
Enough for an iced green tea every weekday
and Saturday and Sunday! It’s like being
in the armpit of a Hammond B3 organ.
Just reeks of gratitude and funk.
The funk of ages. I am not going to ruin
my love’s life today. It’s like the time I said yes
to gray sneakers but then the salesman said
Wait. And there, out of the back room,
like the bakery’s first biscuits: bright-blue kicks.
Iridescent. Like a scarab! Oh, who am I kidding,
it was nothing like a scarab! It was like
bright. blue. fucking. sneakers! I did not
want to die that day. Oh, my God.
Why don’t we talk about it? How good it feels.
And if you don’t know then you’re lucky
but also you poor thing. Bring the band out on the stoop.
Let the whole neighborhood hear. Come on, Everybody.
Say it with me nice and slow
   no pills  no cliff  no brains onthe floor
Bring the bass back.   no rope  no hose  not today, Satan.
Every day I wake up with my good fortune
and news of my demise. Don’t keep it from me.
Why don’t we have a name for it?
Bring the bass back. Bring the band out on the stoop.

"Hammond B3 Organ Cistern" by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used by permission of the poet.