Rex

voice and piano/harp, 2013

Born out of anger, and sadness, and the words I can't speak. Dedicated to a way of life I've never lived; written for the skin around my nails.

Context

Both this piece and May the 7th, 1910 were written at a time when I was finally accepting a lot of anger I still held about events that had happened the previous semester. Where May the 7th is purposeful and story-based, Rex is pretty raw; I churned out this poem and several others when I was still reeling from a really unfortunate 2am messenger conversation. I had to write - I couldn't manage anything else - I couldn't not type - my body would not let me sleep.

A short while later, I was asked to play an original composition for an art/music collaborative concert, with the centerpiece being Beer Drinking Sonata (for 13 players). Problem was, I hadn't written anything yet; what was I going to play? "Okay, this is crazy, but what about the poem? The skin one?" I asked myself. "Keep it in C minor, don't move the melody too much - improv?" To my absolute surprise, this actually worked; people liked the song enough to comment on it later.

Some time passes, and I know it was strong, so I need to write it for real. Though writing the poem itself was a mini-catharsis, the farther I get into Spring 2013, the worse I feel; my self-confidence wears itself away, I'm sleeping badly, I go to group therapy for awhile. I let myself into the music library one night, which had an upright piano in its far room, with the thought that I was going to work on my Composition final for SATB choir, but no. I ended up fooling around with chords, and put them to this poem, and worked out Rex; I experienced the song as it was happening so strongly that once I played it through a few times, I couldn't move for two solid hours except to sit up and play it again.

You can't always tell when an audience engaged with a work you wrote, but I've received the same comment on Rex from enough people that I know I hit a mark: "You took me to a place that I didn't want to go." I wasn't expecting to be able to pack six months into five minutes, but I guess I managed it!

As for the title, I realized after writing the poem that it read a lot like ano(rex)ia. Though I have never had an eating disorder, I suppose I was living in a similar way - attempting to regain control of my life by letting it fall apart.

Lyrics

I like to rip apart my skin
and slowly watch my options thin
like a rose, my ribs unfurl
in beauty shall I leave this world

Written by Becky on Thursday January 12, 2017

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