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Ode to the Vinyl Record

Mar. 28, 2010
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The needle lowers into the groove
and I’m home.  It could be any record
I’ve lived with and loved a long time:  Springsteen
or Rodrigo, Ray Charles or Emmylou
Harris:  Not only the music, but
the whirlpool shimmering on the turntable
funneling blackly down into the ocean
of the ear—even the background
pops and hisses a worn record
wraps the music in, creaturely
imperfections so hospitable to our own.
Since those first Beatles and Stones LPs
plopped down spindles on record players
we opened like tiny suitcases at sweaty
junior high parties while parents were out,
how many nights I’ve pulled around
my desires a vinyl record’s cloak
of flaws and found it a perfect fit,
the crackling unclarity and turbulence
of the country’s lo-fi basement heart
madly spinning, making its big dark sound.

Thomas R. Smith is a poet and teacher living in River Falls, Wisconsin.  His new collection, The Foot of the Rainbow, will appear from Red Dragonfly Press this spring.  You can read more of his work online at www.thomasrsmithpoet.com.  "Ode to the Vinyl Record" originally appeared in Pudding Magazine #53, 2007.


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