Last Applause at the Sportsman’s Lodge, by Karla Merrifield

Karla Merrifield

Moses Merrifield had some serious equipment
for a singer at fisherman’s dives.
He played the country juke in hick joints

all around Cape Vincent’s boondocks,
hundred bucks a gig, if he was lucky,
plus free, unlimited Arbor Mist ’til two a.m.


Today I move the heavy-duty pieces around
like so many audio buddies of his,
geezers he once hung with at the bars.

I position them as if for head shots
in a fading performer’s portfolio,
or grizzled mug shots in a wino’s line up.

I make a dozen documentary photographs
of cables and stands, mufflers and extenders,
six microphones (four brands). I trip over tri-pods.

I drop the names of his late-night pals:
Bose and Nady, Rogue and Carvin,
Starstruck and Starpower, one called

Musician’s friend, I kid you not.
I count the pre-amp direct boxes, one, two.
I count speaker ports, one, two.

This was his sound system,
these his sing-along companions.
He’d drink to that, Moses would drink.

Soon his stage gear – all thirty-five components –
goes onto Craigslist lickety-split
with four low-rez .jpeg still lifes attached.

Start your own band now! Or upgrade
with this complete set! I add disclaimers:
No shipping available; not sold separately.

His guitar, voice and talent not included.

Author’s Comment: For several years, I’ve explored the parameters of grief, first through my book, The Urn (Finishing Line Press, 201), where I examined my husband’s inevitable death by cancer. (Miraculously, he’s still standing!) Then, lately, I’ve looked at grief through the lens of my brother’s death-by-slow-suicide. “Last Applause” is from my in-memoriam collection, Virus in the Song, dedicated to my only and very troubled sibling. I mourn the loss of his considerable musical talent while I rage against the man who wasted it in cheap wine. I’ve learned – so far – that grief is multi-faceted; it can even make you laugh.

Bio: Karla Merrifield is Review Editor at The Centrifugal Eye and a previous contributor to Wild Goose Poetry Review.

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