Cynthia Atkins


And for all the Jazz men that have
rescued me in unctuous sounds
along the way—Spangled flairs of gold,
a tooth fretted to a saxophone.
They've all taken their turns
and their sweet time on my pulse

of wounds.  I was a sucker for a moody
piano—Notes stronger than pain, moaned
all the way down to my girlhood sorrow.

I must owe the riffs of my afflictions
a second chance?  Sweat-browed surgeons
resuscitating my clotted heart—

Mine was the one tethered like a horse
to a saloon.  They each blew a rue
of repetitions, akin to my brewing storms.

Acoustically, they schooled me
in the harmony of alone. I burned the kitchen
candles all night long, in my paper-thin nightgown.

Their speakeasy chords played me
into a mirthful spoon. I was the glutton for
their punishment of tunes—The way the blues fills

the glass and finds you wordlessly
on the floor.  Avid sailors that netted
something lost in my sea—who knew nothing

of me, but wooed me into their fluted sails,
pushed a noisy silence through me—
like a holy moment set to music.


Cynthia Atkins is the author of In the Event of Full Disclosure and Psyche's Weathers . She is artistic director of Writers at Jordan House, and also teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Roanoke College.  She lives on the Maury River in Rockbridge County, VA with her husband and son, as well as some other critters.


Assistant Director, September 1990-1994

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Poem copyright © Cynthia Atkins. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author

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