Steve Langan

In Maine


Pain is a crude emotion; for instance,
the pianist who cut off his own finger
like a frayed length of line…
which is how I was reminded:
motoring to the Island
down an alleyway of moonlight,
thinking I admire his nearly superb
playing still, his resoluteness
concerning disaster and rejuvenation…

But what good are heroes anyway?
every stern lobsterman and lobsterson
and daughter seems to want to say…
and what if the lobster family
has it right: as you hurtle forward
bearing your undeniable gift,
your mediocre, praised playing,
into the cautious motif of your elders,
their stark wallpaper, fearfulness?...

Would you forget your lessons, your Every
Good Boy Does Fine? Would it be about
enough to make you forget the invention
of jazz—it’s a sound and style
that represents a nation—your toes
tapping inside your better shoes?