Ode to Cassettes

by Noah Kucij

You could index the thickness of influence
in tape’s grey grizzly hiss – was it
a clean copy, a Maxell swiped from Rite-Aid,
unwrapped and christened, blue ballpoint
a line at a time, still crisp handed over
the table at lunch, or was it your brother’s
old Beasties, the casing opaque, magic marker scratched
over, and over the drowned sound
a mid-vintage Zeppelin skimmed,
dub of a dub of the record?  You could
reorder the tracks of a sloppy disc,
re-wind Pearl Jam’s third album, for instance,
till taut as the second if not as intense
as the first.  You could refuse
to let board certain names on the manifest:
White Album without Revolution Number 9
and Goodnight.  You could marry Aretha to Bob,
each off to work as the other got home.
You could get high with degraded magnetic
ambience, Prince, Pink Floyd or The Chronic
to amble you through the maze between
school’s-out and supper’s-on.  You could
wave a wand of sorts (a pencil worked well)
and restore some slackened legend to life,
to the horns and the Hammond, to spittle and fire.
And you could lose music, truly, watch it
succumb to a gone girl or a good party
or worse, find its obsolete remains
in a shoebox or a finicky deck,
looking for all the world, with its scribbles
and silent gears, like a mill that’s lost its falls.


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