Poem: Four Strings


Four Strings

He sits on the small stage,
Long hair and mustaches,
costumed and dressed in his Renaissance finery.

Three women sit off to one side.
Madrigal singers, waiting
for his perfect rhythm, his perfect low notes
to begin.

Four strings.
Nothing more.
Four strings
and infinite possibilities.

About this poem.

I am sitting at a McDonalds in Rutland, Vermont. Down the street a block my old Isuzu Trooper is getting new tires while I sip bad coffee and eat my breakfast and write.

I have been reviewing my poems and reviewing my journal entries for the last decade and a half, trying to get a realistic sense of my journey during this time. How did I completely change my whole life around in that time? Why? What parts were thrust on me and what parts did I choose? Which of those choices were good ones and which were, shall we say, less than optimal?

It’s been a fascinating read. Fascinating to be reminded of how simple I actually am and how simple my needs are. How so many of my best changes resulted from being true to that simplicity and how those less than great ones were generally caused by drift.

When I began therapy way back when, one of the things that struck me is how, despite the complicated emotional mess I was in, nothing was really new. I was not nearly as unique as I thought I was. People had been going through the same things, in variations, forever.

And so too, the answers were simple. I was the one making it complicated. by not understanding that I and my situations and emotions were not nearly as unique as I believed. Once I grasped that concept, I could trust the therapist to guide me along proven paths. No need to reinvent anything special for me. The paths were already there. That concept has largely guided me ever since. In life, love, family, work, and faith.

Yes, we are complex, but not in the way we think. There are a few things we all need and want. Care for those things and there are infinite possibilities of what we can make of ourselves. Don’t care for those things and there are infinite ways we can muck our lives up.

But always, there are those basics. A feeling of safety and security. (Physical and emotional) Acceptance. Being nourished. Purpose.

Just like the young man playing the bass in the picture. Four strings. Infinite possibilities.

A long explanation for a simple poem.



  1. Wow, Tom. Just what I needed to hear this morning. “…and how those less than great ones were generally caused by drift.” So true for me, as well. The realization that I am not unique. Reassuring, yet at the same time, a little hard on the ego (for me) that my precious feelings aren’t special in the grand scale of humanity. LOL Thanks so much for writing. I read you daily and often learn something not only about you but myself, as well.

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