“Even if you’ve never had a piano lesson in your life…” Illustrated by Bill Griffith!

Bill Griffith's "Musical Pins" inspired not just one queron but a second as footnotes.

“Even if you’ve never had a piano lesson in your life…”1
           three Zippy the Pinhead comic strips2

These days you can get a gloss of anything
you don’t understand, watch Liberace’s spot
for The Baldwin Fun Machine, get sold and ring
it up with shipping—without leaving your post.
Then videocapture with all your being!

Saturday Night Sing-a-longs—teens thing they’re tops!
Mom puts out a plate of garbanzo crescents.
Dad plugs in the home fog machine and flash pots.
Suddenly you’re three of the many Osmonds.
“I think about your lovin’.” “Double lovin’.”

We’re graced with a visit from our long-nosed friend,
so we gather around the keyboard console.
His face opens up—such a sweet audience.
When he starts to get confused after a while,
we explain: the organ sounds best off. So stop

the one-finger harmonizer, and roll out
the F’tang F’tang Olé Biscuit Barrel.


[1] So begins the TV ad for Baldwin’s value-priced home organ
pitched by Liberace. He performed a one-finger finale,
The Beer Barrel Polka. The same years it sold on television,
you could have watched musical numbers by The Osmond Family.
“F’tang F’tang” comes from Monty Python’s “Election Night Special.”
They’re mostly online, the sundry ingredients of seventies

culture that suffused my growing up. Reference is a common trope
in literature—and in music, movies, choreography,
comics (sequential art), and so on. To create is to copy.
Obscure reference in art predates even modernist Ezra Pound.

[2] Long before I ever read Bill Griffith, I loved the word zippy,
so I painted it in an amateur pointallist circus style.
Years later, I went gaga over Griffith’s surreal comic strip.
I sent Bill my painting, and he inked on the Pinhead—what a guy!
It hangs in my office. Poems have my permission to be funny,

to play around the wisdom of pure play, to disarm and beguile,
leaving no one with a framed answer, but somebody with a smile.


More credits: The Bone Doctor playing "Beer Barrel Polka" and daughter Mirabai on the Tiki Room Song.


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