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Boil it Down!


Text by Thomas Lux

Render, Render

Boil it down: feet, skin, gristle,

bones, vertebrae, heart muscle, boil

it down, skim, and boil

again, dreams, history, add them and boil

again, boil and skim

in closed cauldrons, boil your horse, his hooves,

the runned-over dog you loved, the girl

by the pencil sharpener

who looked at you, looked away,

boil that for hours, render it

down, take more from the top as more settles to the bottom,

the heavier, the denser, throw in ache

and sperm, and a bead

of sweat that slid from your armpit to your waist

as you sat stiff-backed before a test, turn up

the fire, boil and skim, boil

some more, add a fever

and the virus that blinded an eye, now’s the time

to add guilt and fear, throw

logs on the fire, coal, gasoline, throw

two goldfish in the pot (their swim bladders

used for “clearing”), boil and boil, render

it down and distill,


that for which there is no

other use at all, boil it down, down,

then stir it with rosewater, that

which is now one dense, fatty, scented red essence

which you smear on your lips

and go forth

to plant as many kisses upon the world

as the world can bear!


preview score

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(digital license)

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Performed by Aliro Voices, directed by Kurt Hattenberger

Program Notes

The text, by Thomas Lux, is an ars poetica - a poem about the making of poetry (or any art). It describes the process of taking all of the brutal, trivial, and visceral experiences of everyday life and distilling them into something beautiful to share with the world.

Premiered by VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, directed by Philip Brunelle

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi MN, November 20, 2015

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