The Guitar Poems

Teresa Compton
Ballad of Zed Gonzales

Because you unearthed that guitar, the story arched its back. 
Stretched its arms.   Begged for morphine.

Evalina was more wild that any wild you thought wild.
That hair.  Long  blue black hair blew from Maine
to Colorado without effort.  And she knew it.  She knew
she could command any man into her bed
with a nod and Zed fell hard.  Harder than
any man should fall.  Curling into her loin,
thought he could penetrate her heart.
Somehow .  Somehow Evalina would settle
in this high desert land: round groves of scrub
oak, brittle grass, bars that smelled of dry urine, stale beer.
His band, his music, his pulse would warm her blood. 
His fingers played her hair with insane intensity, 
like Yo-Yo Ma at the cello.  
But her feet itched for California fields, new beds. 
And the song came unstrung.

Evalina was more wild that any wild you thought wild.
The winter after two years she came to Zed with Jesse.
Baby Jesse.   Raven hair. Fat bastard baby.
She laid that boy at Zed’s feet.  Prayed to him.
Take him. Take him.  “My hair can take me Canada,
Zed.  To beds of soft thick fur.”  And Zed knew
the only part of Evalina he could keep was Jesse.
The boy grew strong and waxen.  Zed got a job. Baked bread. 
Quit the band.  But the boy could not speak,
could not hear the zing of steel strings.  Deaf.  Mute.
Blackboard paint covered the kitchen table, a desk,
bedroom wall, baseboard and trim.  Brown bowls
held shards of chalk.  White dust covered the floor.
The boy grew strong and waxen, his long wild hair tied back.
And the song had begun.  



Buried on a down slope amidst current bushes and weighed down with stones,
It rested undisturbed as the silt clumped around it’s
Contours and pulled at the finish.
Why the Harmony was buried, no one knows
For the strings are long gone.
No name written, no eulogy given, no lament sung. It lay alone.

Until a faint whisper tickled an ear, a tiny fleck pricked the eye
And the artist reached through the rocks and pulled it back
into the world. “Providence” the artist said as it was taken to be enshrined.
In the journey home the artist thought about the time the guitar
was alive, playing odes to a Hot Child In The City, or A Long Cool Woman, to Carrie Ann or Maggie Mae. Possibly strumming out 
warnings of vain men in apricot scarves like Barracudas waiting in ambush.
Did it ever travel Ventura Highway 
or ride through a desert on a Horse With No Name?
Did it lay shimmering in the sun while Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon?
One thing is certain of this relic, it has been a long time since it rocked and rolled.
“Serendipity” the artist explained 
to friends and family gathering around hollowed treasure.
But all magic has a price and that night, the price paid was a life.
Reality spirled down into the Twilight Zone and the Lunatic Fringe took hold
in the same fiery crash that claimed Ritchie Valense, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jim Croce and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Was it just a theme, or a rock and roll conspiracy?
In a solitary cavalcade of a burned heart, 
the artist trudged the instrument back to it’s internment.
Blue sky thunder rumbled in herald 
of it’s perdition as flat stones were piled tightly 
against the possibility of return.
“Cursed” the artist sobbed, leaving behind a piece of history, a piece of life, a peace of self. The sky echoed the cry and rain splashed down against the sorrow.
The last song, a song without end, buried again to seep 
through the cracks of the Earth.
Filling her belly with rhythm causing quakes to splinter the marrow.
To define a life, an era. A cry of hope to all:
Rock is dead, they said
Rock is dead
Long live rock
Be it dead or alive! *

*Long Live Rock - Pete Townsend/The Who

Kate Kingston
How to Bury a Guitar

Dig always with your bare hands:
six inches deep, one foot wide,
the length of a small child.
Give it a silver lining,
a muslin pillow.
Embalm the strings in wax.
Swaddle the neck in carnations.
Place a yellow ribbon
around the frets
and a handful of picks in the hollow.
Fill its throat with desert sand.
Bring stones from the arroyo for weight.
Mark it with chert and arrowheads.
Honor its silences, its broken strings,
its scratched mahogany.
Let wind through the juniper strum its eulogy.
Let ravens cross over.
Genuflect lightly,
then listen for the low notes, the key of G
humming up through roots,
through creosote and fringed sage.