On Not Being Able to Sing
  Marcus McCann

Voice like an underwater turbine speaking American English.
A voice manmade. With a coach, Rock Hudson distressed

his vocal meat — on purpose, at twenty, oh Hollywood! —
scars gifting him when he spoke with a not-quite echo

like a crew over the next dune thumping on drydocked boat hulls.
But it filled the lake of his singing voice with slag, ruined song

tattooed into his throat. Rock Hudson and The Little Mermaid
have this one thing in common. Whitney Houston gave up her singing voice

for rock, and who's to say it was a bad bargain. As for me,
I never had the kind of voice I could barter with.

Voice like a stomped-on harmonica. The little puff of noise
you can squeeze from a rabbit with all the melody of a poem

about Marcus McCann written by Marcus McCann.
Can all coyotes sing, or do some mouth their howls

like I did to the national anthem, from pews in the dusky
gymnasium under a moonfaced analog clock?

Every snip of song which mallwalks my head, its lyrics John Doeing,
rusts in my throat. It is unrecognizable to my coworkers.

The song trapped inside me — not to get heavy — is a warning
flare of my body's limits, first little taste of something paralytic

or, um, Alzheimeral. If that's a word. I can't always express myself,
and by “myself” I mean the upbeat choruses which tent

on the very cliffsedge of my solitary and social selves.

I apologize for smothering the fun out of karaoke. But not really.
That time I slowly peeled duct tape from the collective face of an audience:

imagine the foreboding
when, after singing The Greatest Love of All in rhythmless monotone,

the host calls my name to sing — wait for it —
The Greatest Love of All all over again in the second set.

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