Published on Academy of American Poets (


I have always loved the word guitar.

I have no memories of my father on the patio
At dusk, strumming a Spanish tune,
Or my mother draped in that fawn wicker chair
Polishing her flute;
I have no memories of your song, distant Sister
Heart, of those steel strings sliding
All night through the speaker of the car radio
Between Tucumcari and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 
Though I’ve never believed those stories
Of gypsy cascades, stolen horses, castanets,
And stars, of Airstream trailers and good fortune,
Though I never met Charlie Christian, though
I’ve danced the floors of cold longshoremen’s halls,
Though I’ve waited with the overcoats at the rear
Of concerts for lute, mandolin, and two guitars—
More than the music I love scaling its woven
Stairways, more than the swirling chocolate of wood

I have always loved the word guitar.


From The Last Troubadour (Ecco, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by David St. John. Used with permission of the author.


David St. John

David St. John is the author of over ten collections of poetry, including Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems (Perennial, 1994), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 2017-11-27

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