Toni Del Renzio: Piano, a Surrealist Prose Poem for Art Hodes (1945)

Late surrealist poem found in 1945 magazine Piano Jazz, published by The Jazz Sociological Society, Neasden, London. Toni del Renzio (Antonino Romanov del Renzio dei Rossi di Castellone e Venosa 1915 - 2007) was part of the small club of British surrealists most of whom seem to have fallen out with one another. Roger Cardinal in his Guardian obituary notes:

"Del Renzio was also something of a poet, and one evening in 1944, E.L.T. Mesens and his followers sabotaged their enemy's reading at the International Arts Centre - objects were thrown, and del Renzio and Ithell (Colquhoun) had to duck behind a piano." Take it away Toni--

Piano of tumultuous melody pouring through the milky way in staccato spurts of harsh lyricism alight with the ecstasy of the blues and the stomp and the rag beautiful twists of primitive innocence more marvellous than civilisation.

Piano of mercury and arsenic flowers dissolve in the promises of reefers and alcohol which steadies and firms the sensitive hands of love long-fingered with desires hollow-palmed with hopes slender-wristed with the sending practice of the boogie surprise.

Piano of fireflies sinking in the dark warm swamp of memory where the images of what was are convulsed into the shaking outline of what must be and what will be when the gutted lie in streamers across the barricades of the night and in the distance can be heard the feminine song of a well-licked clarinet.

Skeleton piano of terrors and fears.

Iron piano of inescapable fates fanning paths of hazard.

Stone piano of social neglect beneath the skies of benevolence and other hateful qualities.

Great piano of palpitating heart.
Piano master of all we want and can ever hope to obtain.

Piano ill-used by many whites of the disgusting nature of Bach and Beethoven and filthy Brahms that only the blacks were able to demonstrate anew its wonderful possibilities.

Piano in the despairing desert of coercion and war where only the bitter songs of the dead are sweet street marches of revolt.

Piano sprouting everywhere with greenwood and rare flowers in which enormous bees seek the honey distilled into the nectar that only jazzmen drink at midnight.

Piano which we hear gently treated and subtly tortured in the quietest blues only to be vigorously and strangled noisily in the interior landscape rented by Art Hodes who gives back to the blacks their own way of playing.

Piano athwart the future like the bloody clouds of absurd and strangely moving tears of a bereaved mother beaten by herself about her full bosom. Piano instrument of giants and dwarfs these latter being the greater and the faster legends of docking and riverboats love beneath stairs beneath the waters of the muddy river lamented by the slowest blues on wax.

Piano tyrant and poet mechanical Rimbaud.

Piano liberal thump of every nuance of a tortured brain in which nestles the tapeworm of ambition Promethean endeavour to spit in the face not only of that priest and his onanism but of the hideous god himself who must have emasculates sing his masses and his too gentle passion.

Piano shouting the lice of New York and the scabs of New Orleans the yellows and the browns and the blacks but above all the blues.

Piano whose each note is the vibration of one of my nerve-chords which sends its jerky message to my head and twitches the whole body like a clumsy imagination and awful miner of deposits of poisonous ores in the depths of a woman's and man's joint sufferings which but for your clanging rhythm might have just become death.

Piano more lovely more lovable than a suicide.
Mad piano neither to be bought or sold.
Mad mad mad piano play if you can without your suffering master.

Piano of fine falling crystal rain in the smoke and steam and in the stench of cigars and bad gin and sweat trickle and tremble shimmering haze of percussion as black fingers and white fingers hammer black notes and white notes.


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