“Hold Steady, My Friend” by Gabriel Welsch

There is so much joy in what we do up here
it’s a live album, the singer gravel
exertion, voice grit of punk diss
but steely against the bass pulse
right before he says it. All music
is a caress, you just never know 

how rough the hand will be, how loud
the mystery. Defrost roaring
and the sound rebukes your commute,
your steady failure to keep
a promise you made yourself. You love
this sound despite the worn territory.

Ridiculous to say you love a city
to thousands of people
but we love it every time, say goodnight
to thousands of people
as if it’s an ecstasy filmed
with your own sweat? Do you still love

the song you’ve played a thousand times?
Or do you love the echo off their chests,
desperate to front the snarling pack?

A wave crashes, beach is the stage, tides
of a black vinyl moon, poles shivering speakers—
joy leaning into a bass drum sun.

Gabriel Welsch is the author of a collection of short stories, Groundscratchers, and four collections of poems, the latest of which is The Four Horsepersons of a Disappointing Apocalypse. He lives in Pittsburgh, and works as a vice president for marketing and communications at Duquesne University.

Image: “Time and a Wordby Nicole Monroe

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