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Black Thunder (2021)

for solo baritone, piano | 00:4:00

by Melissa Dunphy | text by Luke Stromberg

Other Arrangements

A setting of Luke Stromberg's poem for solo baritone, violin, cello, and piano, composed for Network for New Music's Poetry Project 2008. Arranged for voice and piano for CodyRay Caho, 2021.

"In the second half, Luke Stromberg's marvelous poem "Black Thunder," about the aftereffects of drink, was given an appropriately bluesy haze by Melissa Dunphy." [Philadelphia Inquirer]

"Melissa Dunphy's setting of Luke Stromberg's Black Thunder reflects the extravagance and paranoia of young love and its powerful ending." [WRTI's Critic-at-Large]

* * *

Black Thunder
By Luke Stromberg

It was late. Her light was the only light
That could be seen from the street below.
I held a bouquet of roses, standing
in her doorway, a useless grin on my face.
She smiled sympathetically
And looked away.

Last night I drank until my head
Roared with black thunder.
I staggered home, feeling lost.
Two dogs whispered gossip to each other.
Somewhere sirens wailed like ghosts.
I laid down on my floor
And watched the ceiling fan spin
When it wasnʹt on.

When the days pile up, like neglected dishes
In the sink. I start to panic,
Lost in the dark rooms of my imagination.
She sounds very bored when we talk.
Every smile a secret sneer.
My brain whirls like a table-saw.


  • 20 Nov, 2021: Aural Compass at St. David's Episcopal Church, Wayne, PA
  • 19 Nov, 2021: Aural Compass at The Philadelphia Ethical Society, Philadelphia, PA
  • 30 May, 2021: Chelsea Fingal DeSouza, CodyRay Caho at Virtual