Fall 2012: Issue 92

Jake Adam York

For John Earl Reese, a 16-year-old, shot by Klansmen

through the window of a café in Mayflower, Texas,

where he was dancing, October 22, 1955.


                       Before the bird’s song

                       you hear its quiet


                       which becomes part of the song

                       and lives on after,


                       struck notes bright

                       in silence


                       as the room’s damp—

                       wallpaper and wall


                       muffling the high cicadas’

                       whine, mumbling


                       talk from another room—

                       hangs like the thought


                       of a roof in the midst of rain

                       long after the joists


                       have been brought down.

                       So the quiet


                       syllables crowded

                       full-throats once the talkers


                       have gone away,

                       and a young man’s voice


                       becomes a young man’s

                       silence, all


                       he did not say,

                       which nothing keeps


                       saying in the empty room

                       between the pines


                       that hold the quiet

                       of the song he cannot sing,


                       the sound of a room

                       without sound


                       in the middle of what

                       anyone can hear.