Is Ugly Beautiful?

I played the moon
On a busy street
And got the sun shining down.

I played a song
So that the people listening
Had to make a choice: 
Was it good or bad?

They listened to the repetitive bars
And wondered in their minds
If they liked it or hated the sound.

They kept listening,
Because there were rifts that
Reminded them of something that they had heard.
But, they couldn’t tell on the whole
If it was music or
Some child playing an instrument.

This went on for many minutes
Under the hot sun
As people sat at the cafe or stood in the bookstore.
And finally a woman came
Over to the man,
Whose back was turned away
And she told him how assaulted she was.
“It was too loud,” she exclaimed,
Not that it was pleasant
Or even music.


  1. I love the musicality of this poem. This opening line, “I played the moon”, could suggest the dream of a street musician. The moon is usually something associated with dreams and what this person wants is to be listened to. As the poem moves on this musician seems to be liked by the people who are given the choice of what to make out of this music even though they may not perceive it as “real” music or what music is supposed to mean to them. Hence the idea of “some child playing an instrument”. However, the poem gives the reader a feeling of a certain HOPE until a woman, in the end, complains of being it “too loud” and “not that it was pleasant music or music”. This abrupt cut changes everything into DISAPPOINTMENT. In general, I would regard this poem as a homage to any street musician who is trying to survive in a difficult world where he-she is usually invisible to the rest of us.

    In general, I loved this book because it is related to human feelings.
    I remember the poem (Is ugly beautiful?) with a musician alone in the street, after trying many times to awake some interest or sensibility in the people who are walking down the street, but no one takes a look at him nor at his sound of voice nor at his music. In the end, the musician remains completely alone, because the people can not listen to him, people have their minds overbooked with other stuff, banalities, superficiality that fullfill their own style of life and avoid listening to some art like music, for example. The poem wants to be a criticism of a style of life too materialistic and very poor in spirituality.
    Annick Chassard

    Last year I read a lot of poems from this book. The writer Mario Savioni tells us about his troubles, the beauty, his hopes and his disapointments with the capitalist system. In fact, I think he speaks about human desires, human problems: the war, the effort to survive, love and hate, etc… I think Mario Savioni has a part of punk spirit in the sense that he rebels against the System and speaks about the underground. He usually sends hard critical ideas with his poems. In my case, because I am a musician too, I understand very well what is happening when you want to dedicate your energies in your art skill. Inmmediately you are falling in great economic problems, while other musicians are fakes and are earning lots of money, because they have good contacts. Mario also speaks about feelings like to be alone, to lose the person you love, to be bored with monotony, etc… According to Savioni, you can tell that you need eyes in the back of your head, that the world and the human being don’t have any solution. But I really think that the writer is always praying and fighting for a better world, because he is a real fighter. He is worried about Human Rights and the planet.
    Wladimir Morales Adam

  3. Very nice poem. In general, we think not everyone perceives music the same way. One likes the sound, but another person does not. We like your defense of the artist that needs to be listened to before anyone prejudges them. We like the beginning of the poem: “I played the moon/ On a busy street”. People can choose either to listen to the music or to the street noise, cars, etc.

    • I am not sure there are different perceptions of music. I think I can appreciate all. I rode, for example, along the Olympic Peninsula from Seattle to San Francisco and listened to John Lee Hooker’s It Serves You Right to Suffer (1966) and Ani DiFranco’s Revelling/Reckoning (2001) albums. They matched the contours of the journey and spoke to me of the places. I saw oily motels managed by old, gray-haired women, whose bosoms were barely contained in their off-white, floral, and dirty, thin-fabrics. I saw the most saturated forests of dark green trees. These albums played the course. They were bigger than I was. They matched the fabric of the land. Like language, music is at once a byproduct not of a woman’s mind, but of the spirit of the world and all its symbolism present. I think we all respect music the same. We have to. I love Rap. I love Satanic songs. I love the pixie dust singers and those women rough, who have seen a side of life that exposes everyone. It is not fair to you, but that song I wrote and played was nearly like a child on a piano. Only the redundancy was its blessing. You know how you are forced to listen to something, like a Phillip Glass piece as it drones on and on and it starts to recede from consciousness and matches the meter of silence, a kind of spiritual heart beat? At best, that is what it was. I called the piece “Moog.” It was my playing a piano trying to fill all the space with notes. She listened, this cafe eater/drinker and she was disturbed. She was judging her disturbance as it went. I forced her to listen as I was across the street with an amp. I stole there and forced them all to this long piece (10 minutes or so) and then to poetry. The English have a word for this: “Rude.” I didn’t really know how loud it was, but I pointed the speaker toward the cafe. I must have seemed crazy. A middle-aged white man forcing others to listen to his first piano steps. You should hear me still. Always falling into a single rhythm. I play it now, over and over. But, thank you for the vote of confidence. I am grateful and glad you liked the poem.

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