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Paul Evans

There is no music like that anymore


We’d all pile into his car,
a giant old Impala,
with its grumbling V8
and sketchy brakes.

He drove like it wasn't real,
slouched in the seat
like he's watching a movie,
like he might fall asleep.

The headlights were marginal,
just bright enough to give an outline,
to give you a rough idea
of what's coming.

He had a box of cassettes,
and the stereo was so loud
that it drove out everything
but the speed and the sound.

It didn't matter where we were going
or whether we'd get there,
or whether we had years to live
or not.

Flying along in the darkness,
the difference between road
and not-road
would start to fray.


He'd jump the curb
and tear through people's lawns,
snap off stop signs
and leave them scattered behind us.

And it's so outrageous,
so outlandish,
so completely unlikely,
that your mind takes a step back.

Obviously this is happening to someone else:
you're reading it in a book,
you're watching a movie,
or it's one of those dreams

that you wish—
you so wish—
you could remember
after you wake up.



The power is out again,
so we're sitting close to the fire,
hoping the pipes don't freeze.

Reading in this imperfect light,
the words shift

and flicker on the page.

All the little motors that I normally pay no attention to—
the refrigerator, the boiler pump—
have gone dead,

loud in their silence.

The night outside comes closer;

the dark woods crowd up against the house.
The coyotes are not as far away
as they usually are.

Why is it so pleasant
not to have what we want?

We’re all so relieved
when the lights come back on
that we cheer.


The woods recede,

and the words

are clearly defined.

a certain number of words

I heard about someone,

a friend of a friend,

who told her young daughter


(the girl was talkative

and the mother was at the end

of her rope)


that God gives you

only a certain number of words

for your whole life,


and when you use up those words,

you die.


My cousin once tried to get my girls

to play a game called

See If You Can Be Totally Silent

For Five Minutes.


I have no trouble keeping quiet

for long stretches.

The difficult thing nowadays

is to find something to say.


Oh what I would give

to hear my father's voice again,

my mother's voice again,

my brother's voice again,


mentioning that it might rain,

or asking the time.

there is no music
a certain number
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