The Failure of My Music

I was cleaning the garage and then

the garage was clean. The voice

from the radio sounded shocked

by another mass shooting

but went on about the government

officials and their take on the violence,

which had nothing to do with pain

but was instead about elections. I had to lie down.

The room hung like a little death in a dream.

If anything had moved it would have been

out of place. I didn’t want to lie down.

I went for a run. The sun

was going down. It hardly seemed real:

the color, the silence. Mothers listened

to the weather for school closures.

I got back after dark. The white shell

of frost was already mature, its raggedness

silky. It started to snow. Turkey bones

had been on a simmer. The house smelled

like celery. Polls say terrorism

is our top concern. There are no

more edible fish in Keuka Lake,

half as many cod in the Atlantic

fishery. I am sure when it comes

time to sell the house

the house will sell; the schools

are good, they tell me. I watch

the white moon, white snow, white

neighbors practiced in solitude. The one

with white hair told me to keep an eye

out for her son, newly released

from prison. The house would eventually

fall on its own. My habit is to break

weak thread, not usually to tear

a bandage off. Sometimes I forget completely

what impulsiveness is. Such audacity,

a brain telling me there is no name

for the things you have forgotten,

there is no name for things you do not know.

They are calling from an unnamable room

You have forgotten us, come back.

I will not forget their decree. I ask them

When will you comfort me. The world

has no angle to measure unless you draw

an imaginary line to cross it.


Robert Evory’s poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in Nashville Review, Spillway, Spoon River Review, Natural Bridge, Wisconsin Review, and elsewhere. The managing editor and co-founder of the Poet’s Billow, Evory is the assistant coordinator of the Creative Writing Department and a doctoral assistant at Western Michigan University. He holds an MFA from Syracuse University.