who is not face-down in a ditch with a boulder between his eyes;
for Stephen who is also not the “father of American music,” who shares

his name, but not his grief–that Stephen says, Bring my brother back, bring him
, that Stephen grieves an empty doorway, that Stephen says Don’t you cry

for me–; this is for you, Stephen, who is neither the one on whom the rocks descend,
nor the one in whom the Civil War never goes out; this is for you, Stephen, alone

in your hotel room, far from your California home, holding your mother’s ashes
in their urn to your chest like an ugly doll; for you, Stephen, who watches through

the window as though for a storm of stones, who cuts off the lights, pulls
the power plugs from their eye sockets, and sings to himself in the dark; this

for you, Stephen, who ditched your brother at your mother’s funeral; for you,
Stephen, who kicked your dogs out of your house one blackout night, dogs

now running wild through the mountains that sever your old city from its wilderness;
this is for you, Stephen, who bites and claws at every hand that takes yours; for you,

Stephen, who wants no one back no more than you want to be found, the way
we all just want to be found, finally, so we can stop running–: and how you do

sing in the dark, Stephen, how you call your shadow Gary and tell him how, once,
you had a brother, how you name your whiskey glass for him, Stephen, drink to him

and drink him in with your face pinched against the liquor’s sting, before hurling him
into a mirror, before admiring the stars he becomes on the floor of your hotel room;

Stephen, how you howl into your shower and scream in your car, how you lay
your hands to your face and touch your fingers to your lips knowing they are not

the hands of the lover you abandoned in San Francisco, the one who doesn’t want
anything to do with you anymore, sick liar, how they tremble, your hands, knowing

they are not even your mother’s, her palms like river stones to your cheeks flooded
with fever as a child, Stephen, how you still see her body turning to smoke

through the crematory window in your dreams and how you always dream
your father in your doorway as you turn in your sleep, watch him lift his fist

to his mouth, set his head heavy against the frame, Stephen, how it’s only a rack
with your one coat when you wake; Stephen, you have no answers and will never

have them, You’re close, but no cigar, sad man, lost friend–I’ll be home To-Morrow,
the other Stephen sings, Don’t you cry for me, that Stephen sings. And Lord,

receive my spirit, the first Stephen cries as he falls asleep beneath a man-made
mountain; Stephen, you tell yourself of love the way darkness tells myths

about the origins of light to itself. There’s a song inside you, Stephen, it’s stuck
in your throat like a dead bird, like a stone, a song you know won’t survive

singing to hear, your mouth open before your crashed-out mirror,
your mouth, a lantern now black, burned-out blind by the fire inside.

M.K. Foster