I’ve given all my life
to play a rounded wooden box
that measures what I’ve gained
and burns up what I’ve lost.
Quiet house at the edge of dawn:
the moon scrubs clean the windows
and the cats stay busy sniffing my pantlegs
in their peculiar bobbing feline way.
They smell the tavern on me,
the honky-tonk flash and smoke,
the floor of the men’s room on my shoes,
the sour remains of briefly used beer.
The hooded amplifier by the door
is still warm and smoke curls
from the guitars as they wait,
locked in their shapes,
patient as always,
for the next chance to gleam and sing,
to howl in artificial light.
I’ve traded in the touch
at the tips of my left hand
and for all the years I’ve tapped my foot
I’ve never learned to dance.