Sleetmagazine.com

Volume 14 • Number 1 • Spring-Summer 2022

Samir Atassi

The Guitar Never Heard

I once saw a photograph of you sittin’ like Slash
jamming out in a friend’s basement. Your Gibson Les Paul
looks alive in your lap, doing all the talking. Your face
is turned away from the camera,
with that faded Titleist cap of yours
leaning into chords only you could hear.
I heard you were on your way to Tahoe
with that guitar on your back, with a wish to burn alone out there
for reasons I never heard.
But your father lost his air that summer,
so you stayed,
and your fingers chose to play
all the songs that he could remember. I never did
get to jam with you; we too
ran out of time. The only thing I ever heard
was there in the darkening whole-notes of your eyes,
in the quarter-rest of your shoulders as you nursed your craft
beer on the couch. I wonder if when you laid there at night,
thinking all those stars in your window to sleep,
did those fingers of light ever come down
to pluck out “Creep” on your growing beard?
Maybe Phish? Perhaps an acoustic Guns N’ Roses set?
The thing about this photograph is, I only get your
outline: the faces of the players all stay turned
away, while the heart’s left straining to hear

Come, Daisy

come. Come
shallow bowl of flattened grass, come
nuzzle my hand on the backyard paths
where your last pauses
were heard. Come
curlicue puppy tail whapping
dandelions’ faces,
their white Afros
bursting in blizzards
over the red rubber ball
clamped in your jaws. Come
inside now from the days of your
play, your little beard filled with
burs from the field. Come
father who called you in Arabic
kelb, a dirty unwanted word
that was never supposed to sleep
indoors. Come
mother who kept your leash
hung on the door handle long
after you; and whenever its bells
are moved, even my
father’s eyes still rise
up from his Qur’an, searching
the empty yard’s pages
for your brief, white, leaping feather.

Samir Atassi holds an MFA in Poetry from Ashland University. He lives in Ohio and works in a library and a bookshop.