Beethoven dumped ice water
over his head when composing, his living room
covered with asphalt to keep
water from seeping through. Deaf, hopeless
& bedridden he left the world shaking
his dying blue fist at a thunderstorm while invoking
Augustus: Applaud my friends the comedy
is over.  Stravinsky stood

on his head for 15 minutes every morning
because it rests the head & clears
the brain. Gertrude Stein
preferred writing with a cow
in plain sight. With Alice, she’d recklessly
drive country roads in their early model Ford
until she sensed the just right spot,
where she mused on a stool —  if the cow didn’t fit
the mood, they’d drive to the next cow. After
The Waste Land, Eliot wore pale green
face powder. No one knows why he did it,
but his biographer suggests it made him
look the poet rather than bank official.

In college, I swooned to Satie’s hypnotic
Gymnopédie No. 1. On snowy days I’d
wrap myself in a violet afghan, part the long
linen drapes & behold the delicate
falling. For 27 years, it’s said, not one soul
entered Satie’s shabby room. After he died
from cirrhosis they found 100 umbrellas,
84 handkerchiefs & piles of letters stuffed
into his concert, grand, most written
to himself & then there were those wacky
ditties like Authentic Flabby Preludes
(For a Dog) & Desiccated Embryos.

When he was 21 there was Suzanne,
his one great love. Satie bestowed her
with necklaces made of sausages,
while she made her own corsages
from carrots.  In oil, they painted portraits
of each other, sailed toy boats
on a duck pond together. After six months
she left & for 30 years he showered her
with letters of abiding love.  No one knows why
he donned grey velvet suits exclusively
& ate only white food — coconut, rice
& shredded bones. I have a good appetite,
but never talk when eating for fear
of strangling myself, he exclaimed. We should
have a music of our own — if possible —
without any sauerkraut.