It’s the harp players’
job to restrain.
to remain calm
and ready,
to clutch loosely
in your palm
the tiny black
bullet microphone
with the volume knob set,
good to go,


you’ll never know
and better so
also to hold,
in proper key,
that ten hole
brass reed bomb,

otherwise called the
pig whistle, the mouth organ,
the diatonic gob iron, the bone,
the French harp, the horn,
the blues harp, the tin sandwich,
the panpipe, the harpoon,
the common man’s instrument,
the harmonica,

with its twenty thin tin slivers,
affixed long to short,
soldered onto solid plates,
pinned to a pear wood comb
with hollow chambers cut
that echo every moan,
encased with silver covers
which glisten under stage light,
low notes left, high notes right

on the twelfth bar turn
around, the lead guitarist
gives a nod,
it’s your time tonight

remember always
to stay low,
syncopate the bass line,
listen, listen
to the snare,
start slow,
keep a cadence
funky cool, cast a line
then reel and flow,
lay bare your soul
until the hook is in,

and then,

when all that
sorrow and that pain
can no longer be contained,
once per show,

let it explode.