Stephanie Dugger

                                 No Explanation | Mike Stilkey

                                 No Explanation | Mike Stilkey

Music City


Someone left

a piano beside the river,

under the Hermitage Avenue bridge

where homeless had assembled Tent City—

a community on five acres

with its own security guards,

rules against drug use,

monthly meetings.

Music changes things, you said.


The river flooded,

washed away the interstate,

the capital, the boundaries.


New tents were raised in a farming field—

donated by the church we left

three years before

when we were curious,

obsessed with enchantment.  


We proofread our rescues,

find the flaws,

replay them over and over.

We pretend the world will end,

stock up on essentials: drinking water,

bandages, flashlight, can opener.

Call this diligence.

We are prepared

for each other,

      for guardianship and bluster.

We replay the same songs, too. The songs

that belonged to us after we met.

Watching our history

in the evening river,

we catch

those notes and the city’s season.



Stephanie McCarley Dugger’s chapbook, Sterling, is available from Paper Nautilus. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Calyx, CUTTHROAT, Gulf Stream, Meridian, Naugatuck River Review, The Southeast Review, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Zone 3 and other journals.