“Piano” by Michael Estes

Michael Estes


What’s played with the left
hand doesn’t change much. Samson
likewise was known to beat

to death the same man every
time. In his head
he dressed them differently,

accessorized. That one had
a lisp. That one wore
one sandal, and it was the covetous

glance he shot Samson’s
pair that killed him.
Another one had fought, bit

Samson’s finger as Samson’s
hand slid down his face
to his throat. Few men escape

doubt, and Samson thought
as his blood entered the man’s
mouth about his own dad’s

hands, and belt, come son
and be a carpenter, for
years the same three notes. Samson

was not a carpenter. He raised
the man off the ground, hands
coming together at the throat.

It was neither prayer
nor penance, and no one
walks around in one sandal.

from Rattle #54, Winter 2016


Michael Estes: “Thank goodness for poems and their ability to be ‘raids on the inarticulate,’ in the words of Eliot. I write poems to see what words can do, which turns out to be just about anything.”

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