I am the third generation ringer,
fifth octave,
always last to arrive.

Presently F & G [effin’ g, man, effin’ g…]
and the sharp when things are frisky.
I am in The Battery-
consistently dabbling in melody,
and the rhythm
when the highs are alight-

steady,
steady,
omnipresent.

The higher bells are too shrill for me,
chirping and insistent.
They feel thin
and threaten to fly from my hand,
should I ring in force.
They are the divas
who perch high above the staff
and demand you come to them.
I have no skills outside of the lines,
though I feign intolerance.

‘It’s me and a dozen churchladies’,
I say.
‘A hand bell ringer is a percussionist,
so we’re practically a drum circle,
just …more like a horseshoe,
and there are velvet tablecloths
and scripture readings instead of
patchouli and nudity.’

I am (mostly) IceMan,
ifIdosaysomyself,
even when I come
directly from having a beer
for dinner.
I tolerate goofs,
I loathe failure.
God help the churchlady who messes up
Greensleeves
because I cannot abide by error there.

But I stay quiet.
No remonstrance from me-
the whipper, the snapper,
the beer-y wisecracker-
I have other generations to consider.
I must let my bells speak for me,
and I ring them true,
always in time,
steady
steady
3/4
5.