Fingerpicking Before Dawn

“John Barleycorn Must Die”
comes on the radio before dawn.

I play the guitar
because of that song;

when I was a boy I heard
the fingerpicking before dawn,

and I could not die
without having at least tried

to play like that before dawn,
sitting alone in growing light, 

imagining I could pull the sun
closer toward the horizon 
with every note,

then break
into a hard and glorious strum

as it cleared the distant line
looking just as glorious.

It took me years to even come close,
and by then I knew how foolish

it was to think that I could make
things happen. I’d been like

the men in the song
who thought themselves strong

but ended up vanquished by 
what they thought they controlled.

Like them, though, I’m still drunk on
the myth, and this morning

my fingers woke before the rest of me,
before I fully knew what I was hearing,

and they moved
as the light in the bedroom grew.

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

2 responses to “Fingerpicking Before Dawn

  • ZurkPoetry

    This is such a beautiful poem, my favourite lines are; ‘and I could not die without having at least tried’ and ‘It took me years to even come close, and by then I knew how foolish it was to think that I could make things happen’ absolutely stunning. The ending is just perfect.

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