How I Learned to Play Guitar

I buried the guitar in a shallow grave in the backyard. I returned to the house and lit several candles arranged haphazardly on the kitchen table. I sat and watched the wax melt and pool. Red pools. White pools. When the candles finished burning, I walked outside and dug up the guitar. I removed the strings and hung them from the branch of a large maple tree. I took the guitar inside and smashed it on the floor. I gathered the splintered wood and put it in the oven. I turned on the oven and watched the wood through the small window in the oven door. After several minutes, it began to smolder. I opened the oven door and removed the wood. I carried it outside and set it on the grass. I fanned it until it caught on fire. I watched it burn. I ran my fingers up and down the strings that were swaying back and forth on the branch in a light breeze. It began to rain. I stood there for a while. I mimicked the act of playing guitar. The next day, I bought a new instrument. I put the fingers of my right hand on strategic places along the neck. I strummed with my left. I began to weep. The song I played is called what's wrong with me.

Someone Needs to Investigate

Do you think this laughter is someone's mother, a fossilized sound dug up by the wind? There, collecting water in mute pockets, the grief-protectors wear down. Someone needs to investigate to see if this is true. The erosion police arrive. Their notepads are soggy. Their fedoras brim with rain. They say, That sound is not laughter. The case is closed now. Now they just want to go home, where it might be quiet. They want to go back home, as if home means childhood. They bend and taste the dirt. This, they say, is a grave. All of this. Everywhere.

Christopher Kennedy is the author of Ennui Prophet (BOA Editions, Ltd.), Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death (BOA Editions, Ltd.), Trouble with the Machine (Low Fidelity Press), and Nietzsche's Horse (Mitki/Mitki Press). He is an associate professor of English at Syracuse University where he directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing.