This piece was submitted by Wesley Stace as part of the 2014 PEN World Voices Online Anthology. 

Wesley Stace’s event: Babette’s Feast 2.0: Judd Foundation 

If I was born, I don’t remember.
Some say I emerged with a lusty cry
Strumming a lyre-ish thing,
Others that I crawled from the womb reluctantly.
As I say, I don’t remember.
I worshipped at the altar of a sultry muse.
Some called her Hathor, some Susan.
To this Terpsichore,
I offered jicima and chicory.
I made things easy for her.
Music lessons achieved me dick.
I remember the metronome’s strict tick tock
With mixed emotion.
Technique technique technique.
Times have changed:
Mice squeaked back then; they now click.
For my work and worship I was rewarded
With secondhand inspirations
But they felt new to me,
Mysterious and timely.
Applause was rewarding.
Likewise, sound recordings with my name on them.
I knew all the bands back in the day, the musicians,
Preferring those who lacked ambition.
For a time, things were fine in The Great Palace.
Amongst my greatest hits: “Symphony in A major: The 
and “How I wrote the Song Bloodyfinger”.
Remember that one?
They’d give me a bouncy C, say “make it snappy”
And ask for something only half-crappy.
I needed bread; that’s how you make it –
Think about that. Listen to the words make music.
I needed dough; that’s how you make bread:
I might use that.
(At home, meanwhile, I wrote secret songs.
Unearth them after my demise.
I think they’ll come as a surprise.)
Then I fell in love with a girl with dead eyes
Who sold her soul for art,
With it her dark heart.
She was cold to the touch
And music didn’t mean much to her.
Sound familiar?
In any event, I was waylaid.
Now I find myself scratching at a gate
I cannot afford to knock down or circumnavigate.
No one comes to see who’s calling.
I see that I am too late
But is it the right gate?
Sometimes as I wait,
I think: there is no music anymore.
Either that or:
I don’t know what it’s for
Music doesn’t want me
This much I thought I knew. I read it.
I don’t know who said it:
“If there is no music, there is no mystery
If there is no mystery, there is no faith”
So no more mysteries and no religion
– and that’s a bad thing?
There are too many songs already.
I’ve heard the music in your soul and it’s tasteless.
You call that progress.
A world without rules is a ring with no jewels.
Music doesn’t want me anymore.
The feeling is mutual.