Jake Adam York



Storm nights, I'd press to the Realistic
turned loud as it would go,

ready for Spanish to break
on an empty channel,

foreign rhythm
in the hiss of distance.

For an earful of lightning,
mother'd say. If that

was the tongue
unravelling in quiet,

reticence opening,
whatever charge: dead air

woke to a pulse
subtle as the coil could manage,

strikes counties west
whispering pine needle to the screen,

clematis, creek fern
and moss, swelling the caves in the hill

as tonight's cool breath
through your lungs

as I lie pressed, ear to skin,
your rise and fall,

ready for whatever shock,
whatever pulse comes through.



When I was five, in Alabama, my father moved the family into the hills where, when the weather was right, we could get two television stations. One of those stations was TBS (now the SuperStation) when they could only afford to rotate reruns of Gumby and Lost in Space. My father raised a forty-foot antenna, but it didn't help the t.v.

Radio, on the other hand....

When weather set in, we'd search for news of the coming storm, but more often than not we'd get something else, from far away, stations from west Texas, Chicago, news of other atmospheres. I'd lie by the speaker where you could hear the whispers of stations too faint for the amplifier. I liked the hint.

I keep a small shortwave I break out at night, listening for Africa or South America between the Jesuses. Last night: Cassandra Wilson covers Son House on a wave from Senegal. And then, thunder from Burundi, the talking drums.