Cry of the Occasion

Jake Adam York

—John Earl Reese, shot while dancing in a café in Mayflower,Texas, October 22, 1955

so loud it fills the valleys
of even the fingers smeared
into a kind of quiet, the everything
you can’t hear but hear through
the music every body in the room
still moving the beat gone erratic as a bat
juking the pines and chimney
swifts toward grace notes
of nourishment over the lake
I see in the perpetual lapping of water
in the lock groove of some cousin’s
record I put my finger to
pull back the arm but it shivers
toward the moon thrown like a penny
from the engine’s wheel like the sound
of a penny thrown from the glass
calling my name louder I’ve heard
this part before there’s a bird
here whose name’s so long
it has never finished saying it
holds me waiting for the end so I
can say something a little more blunt
like thunder a finger through the bone
peeling back the husk of the voice
opening like a bird called into
the wild answering but
like the bird I have not even seen
this music goes on forever the stars
blur the bottleneck against the bridge
swallows abandon for the water
cutting into the bank where I keep
trying to move the needle
to cut my answer into the night
I have to catch the bird and slide it
against my neck I have to carve
the guitar from the deadheads beneath
the lake and all its waves to sing

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