Guitar by Bruce Coker


I took my father’s guitar from the wall

where it had always brooded;

cradled the soot-black wood, hewn

from an oak that lost heart and died;

struck life into the brutal piano-wire

strings that stung my plump,

pink-fleshed fingers as I

strummed a fragile minor chord.


I picked a trembling, defiant arpeggio

that somehow scaled a forbidding rise.

The instrument opened its throat, swallowed once,

and sang again its unforgiving songs.

The booming bass crowed of Jay and his Rooks,

as sharpened accidentals, lacking sustain,

faded unresolved into the diminishing history

of a foreigner at home, a stranger to me.


It sang of piano-key teeth cracking

a syncopated smile, chewing

on a chicken-town sandwich. My father,

raising his ragged red flag over a broken castle;

laughing, uncomprehending,

at green Picasso beads. My father,

with my mother’s friends; slaking his thirst

with stagnant water,

and singing only of the past.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: