Reed Turchi

What I wanted to tell you but can’t here 
in front of everyone is that sometimes

it’s just me & the bartender & four hours
to fill & I take a nice long look out

at no one & turn up louder & louder
drowning second-guesses fingers flaming

fueled by ghosts I’ve told myself are listening…
& later after the manager says

(one way or another) there’s no money
& I’ve turned out on the highway headed

nowhere but the next town & an unexpectedly
full moon hovers on the horizon,

  I’ll head right for it,

You Already Know This Won’t End Well

Like a diver surfacing he comes
bursting in “Just got outta
jail I’m buying y’all lucky
motherfuckers shots!” two
school portraits (hands
on knees, fake trees) held
above his head, torches
beaming “Gonna see my baby
girls tonight!”

It’s early afternoon
& we’re hiding from heat watching ice
melt & now well-whiskey
chasing tequila & a hundred
dollar bill to keep
Free Bird on repeat
& now he’s pounding the bar
laughing & he’s so happy
he could punch somebody & now
who’s buying the next round
& now a cue-stick in his
hands & now maybe
you should put that down
& he wants his money back
now & cock-sucker this
& motherfucker that & now
blue lights come dancing
like sunlight on the surface of the sea
& it’s back to glasses spinning
in condensation rings.

The Last Load-Out & The Long Road Home:
Nashville Twenty-Twenty & the Death of John Prine

There’s a white throated sparrow learning to sing,  
each morning stringing a few more long low whistles

together across the dew-damp air, breathy notes that
broke in thin wisps a week ago, & I’m laying here listening

because there’s nowhere else to be & because either
vocal polyps or chronic laryngitis have shut me up —

so I listen, & last night heard a dark breeze blow in
after sundown, bothering the leaves, & it was then,

the night turning darker, that heavy clouds gathered
& sunk lower, weighing down the shoulders of the city

into one deep sigh that sounds more & more resigned…listen….
it’s Friday night & the bars are empty, the falling echoes

of dancers shuffling down darkened hallways becomes
the sound of another thousand musicians lowering hand-worn

necks into velvet-lined plush cases headed for the pawn shop,
living out the lyrics of a three-chord song.

Reed Turchi

Raised in Swannanoa, North Carolina, Reed Turchi studied with Bill Ferris at UNC-Chapel Hill, and now lives in Nashville. For the last decade he has toured internationally performing music influenced by his time in North Mississippi and Memphis, and is currently a poetry student at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.