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A poem from Anne Haines

The Measures, The Years
by Anne Haines

You step out of shadow for your moment.
The singer nods and you go on,
roar of the band receding
just enough for you to step forth and be heard.

You know these six steel strings like you know
your name. Better even: you play
in dreams, nights far afield
when you’ve lost the word for who you are.

All the years. All the bars, the smoke
and funk, the bad deals when you never
got paid. Nights when you rode home flying
and nights when you wanted to die—

all of them now woven into notes
by the scars on your fingers, your capable hands.
Could you ever stop loving this? You stroke
steel and wood, feel the beat at your back—

it’s a story you’ll never stop telling, how you bend
notes to your hard will, let them take
you where they want you, where the sweat
and cacophony need you to be.

Every night, all the years line up
behind you to speak
some of them laughing, some of them
grieving the way bad nights do.

Every night you pull them through you
more passion than precision, more knuckle
and grit, determining the fire.
Every night, in eight short bars, the years.

Bio: Anne Haines’ chapbook, Breach, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008. Individual poems have appeared in Diode, Field, New Madrid, Rattle, Tipton Poetry Journal, the anthology And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana, and elsewhere. She lives in Bloomington, where she works as the Web Content Specialist for the Indiana University Libraries. She can be found online at and on Twitter at @annehaines.