Bare Bones Band Wesley Sims

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Narrated by Wesley Sims

Bare Bones Band by Wesley Sims
Illustration by Sue Babcock
Listen in the third watch of night when the moon
blares full and ghostly in the little country graveyard 
beside the spooky woods and you might hear a low 
rumbling rattle as the Bare Bones Band comes to life. 

Uncle Klem, that fiddling fool, emerges first, mildewed 
instrument tucked under his ulna, drags his chalky wrist 
along the bow to rosin it up, then fiddles the fast notes 
of Cripple Creek. The magical music draws Aunt Alma 
out of her casket, and she sashays around the stones. 
Roused by the vibrations, deaf Grandpa Gordy crawls
from his crusty chamber clutching his five-string banjo, 
swipes away dirt, begins to pluck the strings.
Cousin Carl and Sister Sallie climb up, plop down 
and tap their drumstick toes on a tomb rock for rhythm. 
In fifteen minutes, a whole skeletal troop of cousins, 
aunts, uncles, and friends are fiddling, picking, clacking 
and racking arms through do-si-do’s among the namesake 
markers. Silk flowers tremble as dust clouds bloom
a summer fog. They jamboree for hours, clicking 
and clinking heels in the stony concert hall.

Their singing swings low, but if you listen hard, 
if you attune your ear to the dead, you might hear
the faint drum and hum of song until pre-dawn
begins to expose the moon-mellowed landscape.
And a little before twighlight, they end the hoedown 
and all file back down as Klem wraps it up sawing 
on the standard, When the Saints Go Marching In.


BIO: Wesley Sims has published one chapbook of poetry, When Night Comes (Finishing Line Press, 2013). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Connecticut Review, G.W. Review, South Carolina Review, Liquid Imagination, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Praxis Magazine, American Diversity Report, The Avocet, The Tennessee Magazine and others. He lives in Oak Ridge.