Round of Stout

The old guitar, ragged with stickers
and magic marker scrawl, cardboard
wedges and candlwax, unclipped
strings whipping from the keys
like fishhooks when I lift it to my thigh

is an artifact, purified in the crucible
of punk, steeped in pungent lore, plied
in countless low-lit rooms, strained voices
loitering in the neighborhood of the right note
fingers broad with callous, bitten to the quick,

and now you listen as I pace my way
through another genteel ballad of love
gone sour, my consonants clear, my tone
methodical, and you patient, your hand
around a pint glass of dark brown velvet,

our supper, thick as feul, warming
our hearts, loosening dead brain cells, fingers,
my laughter as you spin another tale
of the Humboldt House, you & 15
others who, when the power was off,

played orangutan, leaping, screeching,
racing up the staircase, through rooms,
overturning furnature, howling in the dark,
til the neighbors summoned the cops to investigate
a "domestic disturbance" and incidentally

measure the diameter of 32 pupils, haul
a few dialated souls to the pokey, leaving
the rest to collapse in relieved hysterics
amid the wreckage of smoke and drink
and failure, slowly regrouping to assume

a measure of slack defiance-joke 'm
if they can't take a fuck-
and take up again
the music that costs noithing, power chords
invisible in the shut-down dark, song rising
from nowhere, everywhere, paling with dawn.