Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pavlovian Symphony

In the Pavlovian Symphony in E minor,
cello, piano, tuba, clarinet, and howls
from the conductor evoke many dogs
barking.

Then the conductor takes the baton
in his teeth and runs with it
among audience members,
who pet him. Before

the third movement begins,
he is leashed by the first-chair
violinist and led back
to his marked spot.

Implicitly, the Pavlovian
Symphony urges listeners
to respond to their conditioning,
scratch themselves, chafe
against their finery,
and slobber joyously.

Bravo, brava, bravissimo!

hans ostrom 2015


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