. Salieri on Mozart More wine, Signore... Should I say mein Herr? I know! French cognac. Spirits help me share Dark thoughts. Now listen. I take one full year To pen these operas Kaiser Josef lauds; Then you compose a piece in half a season--- Vienna, Prague, all history applauds As if you channeled Heaven. Shamed, I hear These clunky notes I write constrained by Reason, An awkward scrivener---dum-ta-dum---they wallow In envy with more dreary themes to follow. When I perform our royals clap and bow While you get beer-drunk with some tavern sow. I’ve gained great wealth while you are but a spendthrift. So why should you be loved, then loved some more? I write a solemn Mass---refined and cold--- Believing in God’s wrath down to my core. The Habsburgs and Archbishop praise my gift! Then you dash off a Requiem for gold Graced with a Kyrie I’d kill to write! Your brilliance is unjust. You are a blight! More cognac! Mozart, it’s my portrait---mine!--- Hung on the wall at Schönbrunn. Me, you swine! So why should I care what you think of me, You Salzburg rube? I know you think I’m dull: “Herr Salieri, drab and uninspired His music like the squawking of a gull; Untalented and trite cacophony In which his too cerebral brain is mired. Let’s drink a toast to Maestro Salieri, The apotheosis of Mundanity!” How dare you claim my harmonies are tame? They call me Maestro! Nobles praise my name. My operas are successful, always pleasant. Your Figaro is best for swilling schnapps And eating sausage with the common folk. Don Giovanni: coarse as barnyard slops; Seraglio---the musings of a peasant. That you should be exalted is a joke. Herr Boor! You show some talent, but you’re crude; Unfairly praised for work that’s brash and lewd! Forgive the cognac speaking. Through a haze I see your “genius” manuscripts ablaze And burned to ash, your memory forgotten. In blissful silence I then persevere With legalistic strokings of my quill, Each note planned like a syllabus. I hear No sour chords, my work no longer rotten As week old fish. The Muse bends to my will. Released from being trapped behind a window, My brilliance shines with each melodic flow! Herr Mozart, how much longer must you live? I’ll praise you not! Hate’s all I have to give--- But in that hatred somehow I shall find The genius that eludes me. I’ll compose Great themes unshaken by The Magic Flute, My music bright and lustrous as a rose While your work is dismissed as unrefined -- The uninspired ramblings of a brute! I see you fade to dust---gratia plena!--- Dethroned as the great tunesmith of Vienna! My head is aching. Let these dark thoughts cease! But wait, mein Herr! I’ll write a grand new piece: An opera in your honor! One in which A great and loved composer is disgraced By his ungifted rival, shamed and driven To poverty and then---at last---erased! Such melodies I’ll write! Such depth! So rich! The curtain falls. You die. At last I’m shriven, My genius glorified, your gift dismembered--- The work for which I’ll always be remembered! . . Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.