The Trumpet Player


Listen to the trumpet player,

better than Gabriel, brilliant tones, clean and crisp,

a Bach toccata winding a whimwham path,

syncopated flourishes and trills, a royal concert,

ringing brass resonance going on and on,

clang of a Tibetan gong, slowly fading

like ripples in a pond.

For an encore a triple tongue whoop-de-do

rendition of "The Carnival of Venice'.


As the audience clamors for more

I awake, savoring my dream that evaporates

before I leave my bed.

Late for my lesson with Mr. Donofrio,

who once played first trumpet

in the New York Symphony Orchestra.

Hurrying to his home in Corona,

an olfactory heaven

a perpetual Neopolitan sauce on the stove,

garlic, basil and oregano in the air,

an osso buco or braciole blending with the

sweet smell of his trichinopoli cheroots.


The clarity and splendor of his silver Selmer horn

never failed to inspire and intimidate.

With old world patience he improved my sight reading,

monitoring my solfeggio: "Do-rae-me-fa-so-la-te-do".

When my lip gave out, he loved to tease me with his

favorite joke: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall"?

A master teacher, he knew talent was useless

with out effort and discipline.


A few years later while playing a gig

at La Maison Duarte on Jamaica avenue,

A skulking bunch of brass-knuckled thugs,

offended by the alto player's remarks,

attacked the band and destroyed his embouchure

in the middle of a "Deep Purple" solo.

Discouraged by the late night musician's life

filled with smoke, booze and drunken louts

I signed up for a Johnson-O'Connor Aptitude Test

and found another path.

Yet I remain haunted by the recurring dream

of being a virtuoso trumpet player.


Milton P, Ehrlich