Saturday, January 30, 2010

Going Retro: "Music Lessons"

My previous post reminded me of a poem I'd written early in my twenties. What great days, hanging out with Scott & Zelda! No, I'm not that old. Nor am I as old as "Music Lessons" makes me seem.

I listened to a lot of retro back then & I wanted to write a rock history of sorts--like Don McLean's "American Pie" but without the numb-nuts symbolism & allusions. (FYI: The jester is Dylan!)

As I typed the poem into my post, I thought about revising it. After all, rather than rock history, "Music Lessons" is more about getting laid, a recurrent theme in my youth. However, having read Wordsworth's Preludes, I fought the urge--er, to revise. Well, mostly. I changed some line lengths because I hoped to limit how often screen resolution forced line breaks.

Otherwise, "Music Lessons" appears below, with all its pimply angst, as it originally did in G.W. Review & later in One Shot.

Music Lessons

a) Piano

I wanted to talk about my albums, my Stevie Wonder
Light My Fire, my Aretha Franklin Gold, my Supremes'
Superstar, my Everly Brothers' Greatest Hits, my Buddy
Holly, my early Beatles' stuff, my Hometown
USA with the Chiffons & Dion,
My Hits of the 60s with the Boxtops, Chubby
Checker, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, my Goofy
Greats, my Loony Tunes, my Herman's Hermits--but
You weren't interested. You wanted
Something of substance, like art, philosophy,
Eucharistic wafers. "Don't you like me?" you asked, your teeth
Shark white & my heart stopped as if
I were reading a stroke book about intelligence.
I wanted to tell you everything--the novels, the movies,
The garden hose. No, not soap. Radio.

b) Guitar

Midnight. Hillside approached the quiet lake, a blue stain
In my dreams of mindless summer. I had the "real" lyrics
To "Louie, Louie" crammed in my pocket along with a kazoo
& your phone number. You called me a "boner-head" because
I fell for you--like stars, as they say--from the disco
Steps into an evil black puddle. Symbolism! I thought
Before you snapped me back to reality with a No-
Nukes kick in the groin. Your tiny hands touched where
My shirt had opened & breathed. Turtles! I shouted. Hollies!
Little Richard! The Coasters! Sam the Sham
& the Pharoahs! Brooklyn Bridge! Iron
Butterfly! Jerry Lee Lewis! Elvis Presley! The Monkees!
Even Fabian! I'm so happy! You soldered
Your mouth to mine & bam! Bill Haley & the Comets!

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