Bluegrass

starts with   mouth-to-mouth inspiration   from the beige-lipped perfect   O   of a Martin D-28 guitar where soul on rebound   from plucked brass   swims up through sound waves and waits humming   behind a copse of hair   at the mouth of …

starts with   mouth-to-mouth inspiration   from the beige-lipped
perfect   O   of a Martin D-28 guitar
where soul on rebound   from plucked brass   swims up through sound waves

and waits humming   behind a copse of hair   at the mouth
of an ear cave   for the high lonesome sound   another

soul breaks into   when it breaks as breath   out of its white

ribbed chest cave   slips on a jumpsuit of song   from the red
walls of the singer’s mouth   rides the trilled riptide outwards
and partners its soulmate   to sashay down the vaulted

canal   career off tautened eardrum   toggle hammer
on anvil   and tickle the coiled-up cochlea   but
the true beginnings of bluegrass   echoed through ancient

rock caves whose high roofs   hummed duets with stone-age singers
enchanted by warm overtones   the icy limestone
draped around their solitary voices   longing to

prolong the partnership   between what lasts   and what runs
out of breath   seeking to carry   harmony with them
as a body   out of the cave   finally lighting

on wood   carved into a heart shape   too full of singing
to taper to a point   curved like a woman gravid
with new music   soundboard braced by rosewood ribs   slim neck

drawing out voice cords   like drops of water drawn into
needles   wept from cave roofs   brimming with human sorrow
yet plucking joy   from hearing unhuman wood echo

their song in its own bright voice   even on starless nights
as if they had come   at the farthest reach of a cave’s
dark passage   into a place of green skies   and blue grass

This appeared in the September 2011 issue.

John Reibetanz
John Reibetanz has written seven books of poetry.

Like What You’re Reading?

Fact-based journalism is our passion and your right.

We’re asking readers like you to support The Walrus so we can continue to lead the Canadian conversation. This past year has seen some serious changes in Canada, from the mainstreaming of cannabis to the fallout of the SNC-Lavalin affair to our response to COVID-19.

We feature Canadian voices and expertise on stories that travel beyond our shores, and we firmly believe that this reporting can change the world around us. The Walrus covers it all with originality, depth, and thoughtfulness, bringing diverse perspectives to bear on essential conversations while setting the highest bar for fact-checking and rigour.

None of this would be possible without you.

As a nonprofit, we work hard to keep our costs low and our team lean, but this is a model that requires individual support to pay our contributors fairly and maintain the strength of our independent coverage.
Donations of $20 or more will receive a charitable tax receipt.
Every contribution makes a difference.
Support The Walrus from as little as $2. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *