essays, poems        & stories

The Locrian 

by Mark Dvorak

There are but seven modes

in Western music.

Some offer brightness and hope,

others only darkness

and melancholy.

Each a mood.

A character.

A season of the year

aptly named

a long time ago

by some ancient Greek.

And the year begins Ionian, 

the major scale,

Do - Re - Mi - Fa - Sol - La - Ti …

Singing these tones,

each interval of the Ionian

begets the next mode.

Dorian begins on “Re,”

followed by the very same

Ionian tones

sung in order

from there.

The whole thing

starts once more

this time from “Mi.”

Then from “Fa.”

And “Sol” and “La” too.

When the circle of “La”

completes itself,

the unresolved “Ti”

is next,

the last to arrive.

Welcome the Locrian.

The Locrian is unstable.

It bears no true tonic.

Its friction is eternal

and can never come home.

The Locrian is old and it is young.

It is sweet and it is bitter.

It is breath.

And death.

The Locrian is abstraction,

a prevailing star

forever on the horizon

waiting again

for November’s cruel wind

and low, weird light.

Letting go is no longer

an option once

the Locrian has arrived.

It is breath, 

sour, sweet, young, old.

It is what we hear

when we sleep at night

and it is what we sleep

when we can no longer hear

at night.

The Locrian is silence

left behind.

The silence of lovers gone

and of love not tried.

The silence of songs

we no longer remember.

The silence of a child

running toward us

across a memory.

The silence of a breath held.

Or a breath caught.

A last breath.

There are no songs in Locrian.

It is the place where songs

cannot go.

It is simply chaos.

And randomness.

The Locrian is silence.

filled by eternity.


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