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Life Is a Banjo
Paul Hostovsky


Just ask the banjo players
and theyíll tell you
they didnít choose the banjo
so much as the banjo
chose them--and now
they carry it around with them,
this conjoined twin
whose big round head,
pale skin, funny-looking
fifth tuning peg like a misplaced
thumb halfway up a forearm,
is part of them. Like
the body you didnít choose.
Like the life you didnít choose either.
Nobody gets to choose.
But you pick it up, you
dust it off, you put your
arms around it and you try
to love it. And you try to make it
sing. You get yourself
some fingerpicks and you
pick that damn thing like
the life you didnít pick
depended on it.

This poem first appeared in the Southern Florida Poetry Journal.
Used here with the author's permission.

Paul Hostovsky starting writing poetry in the fifth grade, inspired by his novelist father. Today, he is the author of more than a dozen books and his award-winning poems have been featured in a wide variety of print and online journals. Paul lives in Boston, where he is a sign language interpreter. Learn more about him at




Post New Comment:
Forwarding to an incidental banjo player friend. Good one.
Posted 01/02/2019 01:05 PM
Much life wisdom is being picked on the strings of this poem, Paul; I'm stringing along! Thank you.
Posted 01/02/2019 08:55 AM
I got myself some fingerpricks and prick because my life depends on it.
Posted 01/02/2019 08:34 AM
Hooray for Paul. He always hits it. His non-stop metaphors are always what does it for me.
Posted 01/02/2019 08:14 AM
Larry Schug:
Another poem to add to the list of Hostovsky gems.
Posted 01/02/2019 08:06 AM

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