It’s what my hard-scrabble childhood
needed like oxygen and it’s what

my father tried to provide.
Marching music on the radio

for breakfast.  He was always
whistling under his breath.

An upright piano in the living 
room and to tempt me

with more lessons–trumpets
displayed in a felt case, an accordion

demonstrated on trial, a clarinet
borowed from the school band–

all stabs at inspiring me out of the gray
ordinary and into the exalted above.