Undersong

Undersong
for Jake Adam York  (1972 – 2012) 

In the timpanied tenor of penny arcades,
the red roofs of rusted tin shacks, hollowing,
in the plinking half notes of bare bulb juke joints,
we hear your song:

on stilts in swamps near gators half-breezing,
in the boiled brass cauldron bouillabaisse
bubbling, in the brined ribs and brisket slow
smoked in brick pits, we hear

your song in the scorched afterburn of good
bourbon, in the cracked red clay of dirt roads
undriven, in the low aching moan of loblollies
swaying, we hear your

song in the spluttering mutter of combines
grinding, in the shape note singing of clapboard
congregations, in the churchyards and graveyards
mossed over, tall grasses,

in the tune a child hums licking clean greasy
fingers, in the off-pitch whistle for a redbone
come running, in the symphonied cicadas, the tree
frogs tirruping,

in the deep breath beginnings of an old story,
summoned,
in the borrowed voices of the exhumed, and revived,
in all of the places where you’ll never again be, Jake,
we are listening for you.

Stacey Lynn Brown, author of Cradle Song

T. S. Poetry

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