The Man with the Blue Guitar

His blue guitar is lacquered so brightly when he leans
a certain way into his song I can see my head in my hands
reflected. And when he leans back into the emotion
of another chorus his guitar returns to blue: the blue
of unboiled lobsters fading to a general Biro-lid blue
and with a patina of fine tiger stripes the color of sky
midway towards a springtime horizon. I’ve had a long
time to consider this.

The man with the blue guitar has a little tin for his plectrums,
with a cartoon pelican on its lid, standing on top of the words
“Pelican Throat Lozenges.” Between songs he tells me
that he found it in the abandoned house from the song.
Which song? My next song. It’s called “The Abandoned House.”

The man with the blue guitar reads his lyrics from a special
leather book where he has written all his lyrics.
Sometimes he forgets the words and searches the page
as he plays, his face scrunching as he sings new noises
in their place. I prefer the noises. This song is called
Halloween Moon this song is called Lovesick Bougainvillea
this song is called Bourbon Canal this song is called
St. Michael’s Boots My Cousin’s Old Coat The Wrestler’s
Arm The Old Arm Wrestler Dead Man’s Stetson
Panama Morning The Skulls of the Cathedral Lawn
Shadow in the Gully in the Foothills of My Youth
My Heart Is a Love Letter the Folds Are Worn Through.

If I seem too pleased each time he finishes he takes it
as an invitation to play another song. If I do not seem
pleased enough each time he finishes his determination
only reaches further through his face and so he plays
Saratoga Skyline or Sad Preacher’s Walk or The Lonely
Way to Gypsy Street or The Story of Your Life or
The Story of the Man with the Blue Guitar
which is the story behind this, my next song.

More Poems by Jack Underwood