From the stage all he clearly sees
is the faces in the first few rows;
beyond that visual fuzz, sightline distortion
as thick as what’s pealing from the amps.
He knows, as well as he knows himself,
that there are kids in that crowd miming air guitar
to every riff he releases, and as he always does
he asks himself: what do I do here?
Do I play what I played on the original,
the same tired run that used to make me glow
the first thousand times I played it? Do I play that
because a thousand or more kids here tonight
have stood before a thousand or more mirrors practicing,
practicing to play it exactly right? Or instead
do I play it the way I can play it now, gifting them all
a liquid swarm of stingers unlike anything they’ve heard
from me before? Do I risk or relax; do I do what’s expected,
or do I stretch it out before them all
and wait for astonishment,
for indifference, for the whispers that might follow?
He hangs for a bar or two between fear and art
then plunges his hand down across the strings,
imagining a sea of mirrors before him,
unseen in the raging darkness.