Here in “Perfect Time,” multiple Grammy® Award nominated drummer and percussionist, Will Clipman, shares some of his poetry with us.
The best drummer I ever heard
was a Guatemalan girl not more than four or five
on a street corner in Nogales, Sonora.
Her father played bass drum and trumpet
and she played snare
while her mother and siblings–two toddlers,
a third in a sling, and a fourth in the oven–
begged money from passers-by.
Her backbeat was impeccable, her accents inspired
by heat, hunger, and the rhythms of traffic and feet.
I looked into her obsidian eyes
to find the secret of her perfect time
but her stare was opaque, her expression
ancient and changeless as Mayan stone.
Her hands had lives of their own
obeying only the song’s unbroken pulse.
She knew in her blood, nerves, and bones
what shamans and firewalkers know:
how to be here and not here, self and other,
flesh and spirit simultaneously. She played
the immense and perfect signature of the universe
on and on to its natural conclusion,
finished with a dramatic roll–
the only moment her face showed a trace of effort–
then calmly sat down on the pavement to rest.
And I walked back across the border
carrying my changed life.
© Will Clipman 2015, from Wilderness in the Marrow; originally published in
TumbleWords: Writers Reading the West (University of Nevada Press)