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Trombone Lesson
Paul Hostovsky

The twenty minutes from half past nine
to ten of ten is actually slightly longer
than the twenty minutes from ten of ten
to ten past ten, which is half downhill
as anyone who’s ever stared at the hillocky
face of a clock in the 5th grade will tell you.
My trombone lesson with Mr. Leister
was out the classroom door and down
the tessellating hallway to the band room
which was full of empty chairs and music stands
from ten past ten to ten-forty, which is half
an hour and was actually slightly shorter
than the twenty minutes that came before or after,
which as anyone who’s ever played trombone
will tell you, had to do with the length of the slide
and the smell of the brass and also the mechanism
of the spit-valve and the way that Mr. Leister
accompanied me on his silver trumpet making
the music sound so elegantly and so eminently
better than when I practiced it at home
for hours and hours which were all much shorter
than an hour actually, as anyone who’s ever
practiced the art of deception with a musical
instrument will tell you, if he’s honest and has any
inkling of the spluttering, sliding, flaring,
slippery nature of time, youth, and trombones.
© by Paul Hostovsky.
Used with the author’s permission.


When he's not writing award-winning poems, Bostonian Paul Hostovsky makes his living as a sign language interpreter at the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He is the author of five chapbooks and four full-length poetry collections, including his latest, Hurt Into Beauty. To read more of Paul’s work, visit


Post New Comment:
I always love everything you write Paul. What fun you have had here with time and youth and, I quess, the trombone too. Thank you
Posted 12/03/2012 05:25 PM
Bravo!! Elegant slide of words, of time!
Posted 12/03/2012 11:11 AM
I loved this poem. Although I don't play an instrument, you showed me what it would be like. Thanks!
Posted 12/03/2012 09:11 AM
Larry Schug:
We all know that as we grow older time goes faster and the past, at times,is farther away one minute and then like yesterday the next. Good job in capturing the "time warp" in a poetic way.
Posted 12/03/2012 08:14 AM
sweet, as in sweeeeeeeeeeet.
Posted 12/03/2012 07:09 AM
I don't play trombone, but I totally get it. Nice, nice poem.
Posted 12/03/2012 06:23 AM

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