Index by Author

The Patricia and Emmett Robinson Prize, Spring 2008
Michael Hugh Lythgoe
The Alchemist
Fed his fire base metal, pouring
Molten alloys in Constantinople.
Seeking pure gold through alchemy,
Zildjian discovered acoustics—
A crack-resistant bronze, in 1623.
Cymbals now shimmy to brushes,
Tapping brilliant hi-hats,
Bronze mini-bells balanced
By three rivets on a stand;
The Alchemist’s descendants keep
Too much tin from copper, tone
Brassy China Splashes, keep bronze
Sounds and Duo Rides from cracking.

The Turkish Alchemist’s secrets
Survived in the “melt rooms”
Where red-hot cymbals
Are pulled from ovens, flattened,
Rolled like old laundry,
Hammered into flying-saucers,
Shaved smooth and shiny on lathes.
When the hand-dimpled disks
Are whacked—they crash like bolts
From Zeus and ripple like snakes
In a bag. Thanks to the Alchemist’s

Acoustics, audiences now stay awake
At operas by Wagner. Composers
Called on the Alchemist’s alloy sparingly‚Ķ
Until Max Roach, Louis Belson,
And Buddy Rich pulled acoustic
Pieces out of the forge, setting loose
Syncopating tremors with Gene Krupa’s
Big Band sticks on skins; Midas Touch
To concave disks glanced brass
Tones to brilliance: “Clashing brothers”
Of the Turkish Alchemist. Percussionists

©2008 Michael Hugh Lythgoe