With Guitar in Hand


With Guitar in Hand

for Stephanie

With guitar in hand I observe the green beetles bumbling about,
the way they careen and crash and flail aimlessly, but to a purpose.

Sometimes I attempt one note, only to strike another, or plucking
three strings simultaneously, focus on the discordant one,

which is, of course, me. How do we live the right song?
Which casual arrangement sends us plummeting to the grass,

hearts racing? I recall thinking “this cannot be,” yet could not,
would not, turn away. I bang out a minor seventh, sing a few

words, adjust my arthritic grip. Yesterday I couldn’t form
the chord shapes I desired. Today the hands float along the

fretboard, unimpeded. I wish you were here. I wish
I could shift time signatures with neurotransmissions,

that we were somewhere else, out of the way, alone
but for birds chirping in the branches by the window.

I wish my flawed tunes could merge with moonlight
and compose pearlescent pieces, and that you would

sing them to me from the threshold of our shared lives. I want
everything, but cherish what we can hold in these wondrous

times. I think of your hair and eyes, how my heart
flutters to the floor and refuses to rise until your smile

unwraps the day’s gift to me, defying Newton’s third law,
offering unheard chords. I listen to your silences, as I do

your words, knowing the value of each. Gazing at your
photo, I speak your name, set down the guitar. Make music.



“With Guitar in Hand” was originally published in the print anthology Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love in February 2019.



14 thoughts on “With Guitar in Hand

  1. You dear couple. This line, “I want everything, but cherish what we can hold in these wondrous times”, resonates most with me (to use an unconsciously musical metaphor). Easy to lose sight of the fact that even in the midst of all this adversity, wonder abounds.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One of the best love-from-afar poems ever. And in the middle, wisdom for all: “Yesterday I couldn’t form the chord shapes I desired. Today the hands float along the fretboard, unimpeded.” What isn’t working “now” may well flow smoothly in time. Like guitar strums. Like love. Like Texas weather. Like national politics. Good to stay optimistic when immediate results aren’t the “shapes desired”. (You and Stephanie = proof.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jazz. And sometimes, even if things don’t flow smoothly over time, you can still work through the difficulties. I’ve been attempting a guitar piece (the most difficult I’ve ever tried to play) for two months, but my hands prevent me from practicing more than a few minutes at a time, and some days not at all. But it’s still coming together, if only in 15-second bits and pieces. At first it seemed that I’d never be able to play it, but a little optimism tempered with stubbornness and a willingness to compromise, certainly led me to the three minutes of bliss that enveloped me when I played through the entire piece, albeit haltingly, for the first time just two days ago. It may take months to smooth it out, but hey, the journey is where the joy resides.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m playing a 3/4-size nylon string guitar, which helps – the stretches aren’t as lengthy – but still, the hands don’t always cooperate. Even though my physical skills have diminished (somedays I do feel my age!), my stubbornness has not. Ha. Now it’s a matter of cleaning it up – smoothing out the parts that give me difficulties. Repetition will take care of some of that, and I’ll likely adapt other parts to better accommodate my limitations. But I can play the damned piece, which is something I never thought I’d be able to say!

      Liked by 1 person

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