Front cover:
  Bianca Stone
  The Music Issue, 2016
  Created for the Massachusetts Review

 A SPECIAL ISSUE on music. For this particular quarterly,
 given that “public affairs” is the kicker to our moniker,
 the first reaction of readers might well be, “Why?”. . .

 from Here Be Sirens, an opera in one act by Kate Soper
 Scene 2: POLYXO Explains It All /Second Ship
 In a blackout, we hear the SIRENS before we see them:
 PHAINO playing sparse, abstract sounds on the piano;
 PEITHO singing or humming, lazily and prettily; POLYXO
 scribbling furiously on a chalkboard. . . .

Watch a clip from Here Be Sirens, Scene 2.

 What to Take, a poem by Barbara Ras
From the drummer, take the cymbals, the crash, and hi-hat
 and walk like you’re shining. From the composer take “water 
 under snow is weary,” sung by young voices in the timbre
 of wind blowing through the antlers of reindeer. . . .

 The Bugler Responds to Mary, a poem by Rebecca Foust
 After Annunciation by Upper Rhenish Master, and Congressman
 Todd Akin’s public remarks about “legitimate rape”

 What will He do, slut, if you refuse? He will silence your voice,
 break your reed, have you stripped . . .

 "And You Know Who I Am": Paul Robeston Sings America,
an essay by Shana L. Redmond
 It’s an iconic image of an iconic man: Paul Robeson
 standing amongst the workers at the Moore Shipyard
 in Oakland, California, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”. . .

 from The Last Bohemian of Avernue A,
a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa
After a gig I’d circle these streets
 to air the smoke from my clothes
 early mornings, as a light snow
 fell in my black beard. I felt
 klezmer leapt out of my alto
 back there at the Village Gate, . . .

 The Blues: Where Love Ends Badly,
  an essay by Gerald Williams

 In Paris of the 1960s, Mae Mercer reigned at the
 Blues Bar — one of Maurice Girodias’s four restaurants,
 neighboring his notorious Olympia Press on rue
 Saint-Séverin. Her fans were legion. The Beatles often came
 to hear her. . . .

 Cloud Hands, a poem by Arthur Sze
 A woman moves through a Cloud Hands position,
                         holding and rotating

 an invisible globe — thud, shattering glass, moan,
                         horn blast — so many . . .

 from The Scarlet Professor, a libretto by Harley Erdman
 Scene 1
 Projection: Washington, DC. 1960. Postmaster General
 Arthur Summerfield leads a group of concerned citizens
 through a collection of confiscated material.

 Come this way, my friends, into my chamber of horrors.
 You will not want to gaze, my friends, but you must,
 my friends, you must. . . .

 from Perfect Pitch, a novel excerpt by Marcelo Cohen,
  translated by Judith Filc

 Listen: music is born from the human mind, but it also
 appears naturally, like the smell of malt, like the taste of
 celery. Humans desperately try to prevent it from slipping
 through their fingers. They fasten it to the score, to
 instruments, to commentaries, to theory books, to records . . .

 Race Music, a poem by Meredith Nnoka
 Our business is making music
 white enough to cover
 even the deepest blues.
 We steal to earn our keep. . . .