Richard Peabody • Hillbilly Music

A skinny man is reading poems.
Rush hour radio serenading the alley.
A little Hank Williams in the night.

My father appears in the doorway.
His angry heart no longer able
To cry, cheat, or eat gumbo.

I don’t believe in ghosts.
So maybe he’s really stopping by
Having developed a taste for poetry

In the afterlife.
Not that I can hear many words
Seated in the back of the gallery.

The skinny poet reads slower than
Most children do when learning how.
So what to make of my charismatic father

As he mouths silent words at me.
The fractured English of the poet
At the podium, Hank Williams’ yodel,

Fusing together on the first warm spring night,
Thirteen years after my father’s heart attack.
Here I am now in Arlington just a few blocks

From the first apartment he lived in
With my mother and their brand new baby boy
Born 50 years and a couple weeks ago.

What to make of silence and coincidence.
As Hank honkytonks into the night sky
And the spaces between the skinny poet’s words

Get more and more lonesome and blue.