poet, teacher, and dad from the Midwest


Suicide Note

Publication: Rattle [link]

Hey Zeb,

Remember when you dubbed Soundgarden

for me in high school and I said it sounded like

a symphony of chainsaws? Chris Cornell died

today. God Bless that man and his Gift

of a generation’s greatest pipes. So much

of what I learn to appreciate I disregard

at first listen. I saw Sparklehorse once

opening for Mazzy Star. My brother and I agreed

that Hope Sandoval looked and sounded beautiful

and that Mark Linkhaus must’ve been

“a little too into his artistic self.” Now

I can’t listen to It’s a Wonderful Life

without crying. My family never knew jack

about modern music but my dad did keep a copy

of Portnoy’s Complaint on the bookshelf

behind the television. That book was good

for me or it wasn’t, whatever.

It didn’t matter, or it mattered less

than I’d’ve overeagerly argued it did.

In my Escort that we called “The Big Blue Shit”

we’d sing along to Eddie Vedder’s

“I’m goin’ hungry”—we could only falsetto

pantomime Cornell’s part. I remember once

when Musgrave walked in to his classroom

and chalked no one here gets out alive

on the blackboard. A bunch of kids were like

what’s that supposed to mean? but you and I

pretended that we knew just what he meant.