Even during class, my sister

strummed chords, fingers

caressing frets or stretching

strings bleeding the blues.

Sometimes she’d pick

a country tune, wailing for lost

beers and pickup trucks,

mourning every orphan.

Now her fingers pluck

bibs and diapers

from laundry, her kids

a Greek chorus of woes

and triumphs. The guitar resonates

during birthdays

or under a beer tent.

My brother-in-law puzzles

at her frustrations. After beers

one night, he confessed

she hums in her sleep,

and taps her finger.

It’s weird, he tells me: sometimes

her hand finds a rhythm, as if

stroking our last dog’s head.

John Cullen

John Cullen graduated from SUNY Geneseo and worked in the entertainment business booking rock bands, a clown troupe, and an R-rated magician. Currently he teaches at Ferris State University and has had work published in American Journal of Poetry, The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, North Dakota Quarterly and other journals. His chapbook, TOWN CRAZY, is available from Slipstream Press.

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