A gull balancing on one leg or the duality of relationships

This month, BoomerCafé’s Poet-in-Residence Harriet Shenkman writes about the duality of relationships, in a poem first published on www.whenwomenwaken.org. She calls it, Riff on Coupling.

You teach the angular melodies of Monk,
Coltrane’s Favorite Things.

Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk

I sight a gull balancing on one leg.

You explain treasure trove. I read
The Waste Land while you doze.

You savor sausage biscuits. I like
granola for morning after fare.

I value decision, you the
merits of dwelling on a point.

I thrive in bouts of silence, you a
chirping jungle bird.

I favor the viscosity of egg drop soup,
you, the surprise of sweet and sour.

Harriet Shenkman

Harriet Shenkman

I dream of floating on the Dead Sea,
you, of riding the Pacific swells.

I stomp to the Flamenco. You
attend closely to the strumming.

You snub my Darjeeling, flaunt
your mug of Java.

Well, You Needn’t, as Monk would say,
banging strident chords on his piano.


  1. Outstanding poem……..captures Monk’s ability to compose and improvise using methods not understood by many of his generation and to continue with the strength of his conviction. Today we recognize his genius and perform his music with great admiration which clearly demonstrates our reconciliation to his work and philosophy. We could use more of this thinking on a more global scale.

    Written “Around 12 am”


  2. It is great to revisit this poem. It’ about those individual differences that a couple has to navigate through to find a common path; in the end, mutual respect for our individuality keeps our relationship hearty.
    keeps our relationship hearty.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *