Man at Work by Jean L. Kreiling


(after a drawing by Willy von Beckerath, “Brahms Conducting,” 1894)

With his hairy head tipped back,
his left hand in his pocket,
and his dome of belly
just barely restrained by his vest,
Brahms looks too relaxed
to be at work.

But he grips the baton
with a muscled right hand,
keeps his back straight,
and maintains a vigilant squint
beneath a rogue eyebrow.

Charcoal streaks
shade his hair, his coat, and his trousers—
a unifying motif
as persistent as rhythm,
uncluttered as a good tune,
direct as passion,
basic as hard work.


To see the drawing “Johannes Brahms Conducting” by Willy von Beckerath, click here.

About the Author

Jean L. Kreiling’s first collection of poems, The Truth in Dissonance (Kelsay Books), was published in 2014.  Her work has appeared widely in print and online journals, including American Arts Quarterly, Angle, The Evansville Review, Measure, and Mezzo Cammin, and in several anthologies.  Kreiling is a past winner of the String Poet Prize and the Able Muse Write Prize, and she has been a finalist for the Frost Farm Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award.


Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Photo credit: Wikimedia.


Rediscovered Stories: Poetry and Painting