by Daniel M. Shapiro
The four horsemen flashed the lights
before techs could adjust
the white/black ratio of sky.
In this land of Chuck Mangione,
listening would seldom go easily.
A studio by the name of Music America
knelt behind a green sign with white letters:
The City of Rochester Welcomes You.
Peeling paint nodded its long-haired nod
at the whiplash-quick thrashers from the West.
Even boogaloos had to stutter-step,
cowering in the cool basement
of the 50-years-dead social club.
The drummer insisted his cymbals
rotated from the callused ghosts.
The sweater-vested man enlisted to engineer
had worked the counter at Music Lovers Shoppe,
collected sweaty bills for vinyl at retail price.
He would translate the band’s seek-and-destroy riffs
into the soundtrack of zits that couldn’t be hidden,
zits that shielded braces, speech mid-voice-change,
threadbare denim or faux leather a daily coin flip,
weed-burned fingers contorting into devil horns.
This would be a symphony for the front window,
an opus to unite the lonely at breakneck speed.
Six weeks later, the band would flee for anesthesia,
for all the gloom-free cities. The tightly gripped hammer
would give way to blood, jump in the fire midsummer
to go three times platinum, a discarded mirror
of shrugged-shouldered East Avenue clouds.