The Gathering - Mark Belair

Beyond a wrought iron fence,
all gathered stood still
as if attending
a cemetery internment,
which, in a sense,
they were,
as a seething mother
broke from the playground
dragging her darkly
frowning child
while all the parents
and babysitters and kids
held the troubled silence
that follows
having witnessed
the slap or word
that, crowning a callous history, goes
one hurt too far; stood
in shared lamentation
of a neighborhood child’s dead ‒
transmuting to undead ‒
childhood.

Mark Belair, a poet, is also a drummer and percussionist. He has recorded with jazz greats Bill Evans (Living Time) and Joe Lovano (the Grammy Award-nominated Rush Hour on 23rd Street) as well as performed and recorded with Gunther Schuller’s New England Ragtime Ensemble (including the Grammy Award-winning Red Back Book of Rags) and Mr. Schuller’s Mingus Epitaph band.

As a classical musician, he has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The many conductors he has worked with include Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Eugene Ormandy. He also performed as a guest artist with the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Austria.

His versatility has made him in demand for show work. He spent twelve years as the percussionist with the hit Broadway show Les Misérables and, before that, four years as the drummer with the original Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors