I stare so hard the air begins to crack.
My back-of-Marvel-comic-special-sale X-ray glasses fail me.
I see through nothing. Handfuls of flesh misplaced
on my mother’s face as her head lolls to the left,
I wait to see her but the narcotic of sleep
is all she wants now. Bob is here to make the afternoon
special. He stands beside the piano beside the altar
in the multipurpose room with a guitar strapped
to his chest as he adjusts the knobs on his small amplifier.
He strums a few chords as he announces that Willie Nelson
at 82 played at the Blue Note just last month though no one
wheeled in to listen knows the month or that the Blue Note is
a bar, and many wish they were 82 again. The concert begins
with Willie’s song “On the Road Again.” Oh, how the audience
wants to drive out of this place. Hands in her lap,
her fingers fidget as if she might be playing along.
Between songs, Bob makes a few adjustments, moves
the music stand closer to read the lyrics more easily,
then plays a top-forty Beatles tune from fifty years ago.
All the songs are thirty years too young for this group.
The forties, give or take a decade, Tommy Dorsey, Lawrence Welk,
Bing Crosby, closer to their hearts. The silence
between songs brings a smattering of instinctive applause.
Walter Bargen has published 21 books of poetry. Recent books include: Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (BkMk Press, 2009), Trouble Behind Glass Doors (BkMk Press, 2013), Perishable Kingdoms (Grito del Lobo Press, 2017), and Too Quick for the Living (Moon City Press, 2017). His awards include: a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009). www.walterbargen.com