The Music House (in Tennessee)

by Dan O'Brien

The last room in the music house was mine
for a year, shared with the half-deaf teacher
of Faulkner and Joyce, whom I rarely saw,
because I came late at night when the school
was a sepulcher of sound, and the road
a treacherous skin of ice. I walked here
to sit in the humanlike hiss of steam-
heat, the scent of all those moldering scores
and the fugitive ghost of pine. The dregs
of coffee drunk mid-afternoon. To wait
for the first time. Until a student came
whose footsteps sounded like a twin to mine:
I sat listening through the wall as he played
over and over again our same old song.

DAN O’BRIEN’s third collection of poetry, New Life, will be published by CB Editions in London in 2015. His second collection, _Scarsdale, was published by CB Editions in 2014, and in the US by Measure Press in 2015. War Reporter, his debut collection, was published in 2013 by CB Editions, and by Hanging Loose Press in the US. War Reporter received the 2013 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Foundation’s Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, both in the UK. O’Brien’s poems have appeared internationally in journals, magazines, and newspapers including 32 Poems, 5 AM, 10Tal, Ambit, Bare Fiction, Birmingham Poetry Review, Cold Mountain Review, and Crab Orchard Review.