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Rob Cook – Guitar Song

Rob Cook
Guitar Song

I made my history the gruff strumming of a garage band.
I couldn’t play the one-chord songs.

It was always winter and we followed the tracks
of hunted animals to the sleep house of high school.

I learned to dig tunnels while dreaming solos at my desk
and one day woke covered in husks near the property line.

I cut my fingers for hours on a JC Penny stratocaster,
bending the strings until my sister shrieked.

My friend tuned his bass by the amount of smoke
left in his joint—

Listen to the clouds falling in this lick, he said,
and played a mood of Norwegian sleet.

Our singer told me to leave his garage, never come back,
there’s not enough death in your playing.

I went home and made a bed from notebook pages and patch cords
and burned quickly, quietly.

My father, singing my most fractured song,
knocked on the door.

I helped him shovel snow back into the sky
while the guitars

crouched in the distance, the guitars I threw away
chewed to gristle by the suffering antelopes.

I learned to listen between notes
for the coming extinctions—that is where the true voice lives.

Every night I crawled out to the guitars
and touched them once on the neck

because I believed that would save them,
because their vibratos were the only birds I knew.

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