To be a drummer
by Brent A. Fisk
I never liked the spit valve on the brass,
and besides, I chewed my broken lips mercilessly.
And the older boy across the street
would bang away to Cheap Trick,
Supertramp with the curtains drawn,
VW bug parked sloppily in the drive.
I loved that he could knock out all that noise,
rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat, one foot whumping
the hell out of the bass even as the geese
honked home toward City Park.
I slouched at the dinner table feigning math,
pressure cooker hissing toward six o’clock.
My pencils percussed the table leaf,
the broken window shutters,
did a cool number on cicadae skins
half way up the gutter.
My father pried off his work boots just inside the door,
stripped the sweat-stained layers from his flagging body.
After dinner he climbed the attic ladder,
dragged out warped LPs, his moth-blown accordion.
The look I gave had to sting
but he never missed a beat, fingered
the ivory keys, the emptiness where some were missing.
Mother wrapped her fingers around a coffee cup,
listened to my father’s stifled past.
When I tried to sleep that night,
two notes, separate and pleading:
scattershot drumming on tinny cymbals.
My father’s low persistent rumble,
yesterday’s dreams like sugar-spill on a table.