I play music to trap my mind.
I stare down a tunnel and wait.
I waited and stared down the tunnel
for the echo to catch up to me.
The echo catches up to me
when my eyes start to sting.
My eyes sting from the impact
as black and green spots fill the air.
Black and green spots fill the air
as I feel blood pool in my mouth.
Blood pools in my mouth and chokes
out any attempt to match the melody.
I attempt to match the melody, but
only harmonize with copper.
Harmonizing with copper is an
orchestra member who arrived late to rehearsal.
Arriving late to rehearsal means that
the best seats in the group are taken.
When the best seats are taken,
I have to remember the agreement.
I remember the agreement I signed
when I wanted music to trap my mind.
After Jericho Brown
Space is supposed to be silent,
but I can hear the scales of a piano.
I hear the crescendo rise and fall
with the readings on the monitor,
red waves arcing like the top of a tuba,
descending in a low note.
The swish of the conductor’s wand
matches the hurricane I can see
forming over the Gulf of Mexico,
now entering the dies irae.
When the hurricane hits the land,
and when the beat becomes erratic,
will the people below hear the sounds
of a symphony? Or will it be drowned
out like their homes? Their cars?
Their bodies crushed like tin cans
laid out in a row across a fence
to be knocked down one by one with
a boy’s first rifle. From the tin can
above them all, I see keys laid out in a row
like the ivories of a piano,
but when I tickle them, I don’t
hear any crescendo. I hear the crushing
emptiness that comes when the
orchestra pit is cleared at the end
of the night.
You do not have to
get in a rocket just to
confront the silence.
You can just put down
your instrument and stare
out into space.
After Madeleine Barnes
Alex Carrigan (@carriganak) is an editor, poet, and critic from Virginia. He is the author of May All Our Pain Be Champagne: A Collection of Real Housewives Twitter Poetry (Alien Buddha Press, 2022). He has had fiction, poetry, and literary reviews published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lambda Literary Review, Empty Mirror, Gertrude Press, Quarterly West, Stories About Penises (Guts Publishing, 2019), Closet Cases: Queers on What We Wear (Et Alia Press, 2020), and more. He is also the co-editor of Please Welcome to the Stage...: A Drag Literary Anthology with House of Lobsters Literary. For more information, visit https://carriganak.wordpress.com/.