One Last Scherzo

One Last Scherzo

By Margaret Chula

Cover Photo by Stefan Fiedorowicz

34 pages, 5 ½ X 8 ½, perfect bound —$14.99

Published by Finishing Line Books

Maggie Chula fell in love with classical music at age ten while listening to an LP of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 in C minor over and over again on her mother’s Victrola. She wanted to learn piano, but her family could not afford lessons, so she settled for playing clarinet in the high school band.

In 2010, Pat Zagelow, Executive Director of Friends of Chamber Music in Portland, Oregon, invited her to be the organization’s Poet Laureate. For three seasons, Maggie attended concerts by renowned quartets. Sitting in the back row of Lincoln concert hall at PSU, she composed poems while listening to a wide variety of music. One Last Scherzo features a selection of these poems, ranging from “Inundation”, a poem about the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, to “Flight”, nuns escaping Tibet, to the title poem “One Last Scherzo”, a fantastical romp.

DEATH IS A BUTTERFLY

that lands on her shoulder. Its delicate wings,

a pool of color that seeps into the maiden’s

skin through the silk threads of her gown.

Joyful at being chosen, she unties

her bonnet and tosses it into the air.

Her small dog chases the ribbon,

trickling like water

across the garden.

A thrumming from the butterfly.

Death is becoming impatient.

The maiden feels its breath

on her slender white neck,

its exhalation of clover.

Lepidoptera lifts the maiden

by her ringlets, her body light

and willing as mist.

She rises toward the light,

full flounced, singing a single note

of farewell to her little dog

who is chewing on the ribbon

of her abandoned bonnet.

                Daniel Kellogg (1976 –  ), Soft Sleep Shall Contain You

I WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE IN A ROTHKO PAINTING

like ocher, settling lightly upon brown earth

seeded with light. Like aquamarine blue

sinking into a sea of violet.

I will live in an orange house with a yellow roof

and peach trees growing in the orchard. Hang

my red slip on a clothesline at twilight.

I will lick rectangles of color papering my walls,

layers of tangerine and sweet vanilla. Burn

my throat on strips of alizarin red.

I will drink from a black cup that never empties.

Sit in front of a fire and breathe in the coal-gray

scent of charcoal as flames burn through it.

I will slip inside the caress of a beige blanket,

curl up on saffron pillows, and dream of

translucent bottles holding no fragrance.

Inside the Rothko painting, I will listen

to maroon walls sing beneath the blackest

windows while I watch the sun set

behind my two-dimensional life.

                  Franz Joseph Haydn, Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 76, No. 4 “Sunrise”

Reviews for One Last Scherzo

Far beyond a mere meeting of art forms, Margaret Chula‘s One Last Scherzo opens up intricate worlds in which works of chamber music, some quite well known, are given a new voice with which to speak. Chula reminds us in these poems something practicing musicians often forget: music doesn’t need to stop when sound does.

–James Falzone, Composer & Clarinetist, Chair of Music, Cornish College of the Arts


Poetry and music have walked hand in hand for centuries, but Margaret Chula—in this exciting new collection—leads us on a parallel but very different path. Instead of words about pieces she heard during her stint as Poet Laureate for Friends of Chamber Music in Portland, Oregon—pieces composed by world-renowned as well as less widely known artists—Chula gives us the emotional essence of the compositions themselves. Through exquisitely rendered images and narratives, each poem becomes music’s verbal equivalent.

Scriabin saw musical notes as colors. Chula sees them as cohesive parts of a painting or photograph, sometimes static, sometimes in motion. In One Last Scherzo, she captures, in the details as well as the pacing of each poem, the heart and soul of each composer at the moment of creation and, sometimes, the life events behind each note. Here strolls Johannes Brahms, with his beloved, but untouchable, Clara Schumann; here is Shostakovich’s rendition of wartime terror; here, Vivaldi’s mercurial nature. Here, also, is music heard as pictures in the poet’s own mind, as she sits in the audience, letting her thoughts wander where they will, letting the soul of the music conjure images out of lived experience or out of imagination. If you love chamber music—and even if you don’t—what a bounty of beauty and insight awaits!

–Ingrid Wendt, Oregon Book Award recipient, author of Singing the Mozart Requiem and Evensong.


“This is amazing! Her poetry so represents the program Tapestry put together. Thank you so much for having a Poet Laureate and for having one with such perception and insight. I will not only forward this to Tapestry, but also to some of the composers whose music was presented. Reading this, they will want to write some more.

–Shupp Artist Management for Tap