Bands You Might Have Liked if You Were Still Alive

For M. G.
Pantera, little king. Danzig’s Lucifuge, Black Sabbath or Alice

in Chains, something with bite marks

and metal on the wrist. Because you were thrash. Because you

were a bastard. Because you were brick

to window, window to the undone

glass along the pavement, a surprise in the soft way

you said sorry.



Wilco for Chicago, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, temple

hymnal for the Sabbath you swapped

the juice for wine and went red as a Testament robe.

Something Rome for a city

you never went to, something requiem

because your parents died before you.



Lou Reed, little prince, Patricia Lee, Iggy Pop’s Passenger you were too young

to know. Dodos for the sixth song’s solo alone: the string sounds,

the shout, the jungle drums coming back in: like flight, Michael,

like light to the lakeside sky we were drunk, shrug, dumb enough to leap beneath

from cliff-ledge to black glass dawn-flat water. Our splay

to white knife falling to that blackness. Phoenix

because you are ash.



Wavves, Sun Kil, The Walkmen’s sun-washed Lisbon, because

you would forgive, Michael, these words, my sentimental and all-

night drinking among friends who remember you, better, loved you

with a rage like blindness, the sun against an eye.

Because I still don’t know

if you meant to leave us.


Something commissioned, little king. Something Philly, finally,

as that’s how I remember you best: still with your kid-fat, your little-

league tee, our hands together on the spool: November

and letting it out, the kite’s pale rise, the crows flying by us: how you just

took over, walked off, left me at the park edge, followed that white stitch deep

into the field. Michael, you’re dead five years

and I still don’t know what to do with my hands.


Grady Chambers was born and raised in Chicago. Poems of his have appeared in or are forthcoming from Diode Poetry Journal, The Adroit Journal, Ninth Letter, Devil’s Lake, Midwestern Gothic, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Oakland, and is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford.