for Bill Frisell

The guitarist goes home to the old home
where his father died. Gutbucket hospital

blues, loose change of cousins wandering
on the porch, call-and-response holler

of undertaker: this is the score of January
airplane, Carolina rain. Why some gigs

turn out the way they do is mystery
science theater of road, food and sleep. Why

certain notes attack other notes—certain
cells attack other cells—is not answered

in woodshed or studio, or on the phone
while mother gently weeps, but lies instead

against the grain of fret and neck unknown.
Slow amoeba of solo, with feedback,

against and inside the thrashing time
of drummer’s snare and tom, ventures a guess.

Anaphora chorus, cilia of grace
notes swimming with echo: each song constructs

a better place, like silence above
shouting. The guitarist carries his axe

with him at all times, into the forest
of funeral, into the Douglas fir

and weeping willow, live oak, sycamore,
because in the end your chops are all

you have against the skirling tone-deaf world:
hammer, pluck, chord, gouge, pedal, ring, sustain.