Life Should Be Played Loud

 In Poems

Some poems
don’t sit content between covers.

This one
was screaming from the shelf,
“Release me from this paper cage!”

So I placed this poem
on a record player
and let the needle
drop

because this poem was born
with a dying wish:
play
me
LOUD.

A portrait of the poet
at age fourteen.
Parents split the summer
before grade nine.
When two parents divide
into separate one’s,
a child can’t help but feel
like a zero.

This was the math that mattered,
not the equations in Algebra 2.
Though the kid could count,
like counting all the ways he dreamt
of asking out the girl one desk over,
but too self-conscious
about his back sweat after gym class
to go through with any one of them.

His head only made sense
when in-between headphones,
cause he understood the math of music:
Verse + Chorus + Verse + Chorus
= Escape.

Turn up the volume.
This should be played loud.

The posters on his walls
were a shrine to his chosen gods:
Nirvana. Pearl Jam.
Jimi Hendrix. The Doors.

His speakers shook nightly
with the heroes of rock.
Drums rattled like thunder,
baselines shook the tectonic plates,
electric guitars plugged straight
into a live wire heart,
and singers screamed this truth in his ear:
that zero in the center of your soul
is just enough space
for the sound to break in.

Turn up the volume.
Turn up the sun still shining.
Turn up the lungs still breathing.
Turn up the bones still standing.
Life should be played loud.

His daily daydream
was a stack of amps
in the middle of the homecoming pep rally.
Just him, a guitar, and a mic.

The entire senior class
was a mosh pit just for him,
the varsity cheerleaders
threw their panties on stage,
and even the jocks had to bow down.

But when the bell rang
and broke the spell of his day dream,
he had to face facts:
he couldn’t sing
worth shit.

Didn’t even make
elementary school chorus,
and they just let you stand in the back
and mouth the words.

But that zero in the center of his soul
was now bursting to the brim:
this voice
must be heard,
this music
must make its way out the throat,
spilling the split seams
of a family torn in two.

He still thanks the day
he first heard about spoken word,
poets unloading their souls
in microphones.

Don’t even need a band to play.

Because these floorboards
will be my drum set,
this ribcage my bass line.
I’ll play this pumping heart
like Jimi played a Fender.
I’ll rock this slam
like The Who smashed guitars.
I’ll be a one-man poetic rock band,
playing solo sets of metaphors
over a back beat
of heartbreak and healing.

Turn up the volume.
Turn up the sun still shining.
Turn up the lungs still breathing.
Turn up the bones still standing.

Life should be played LOUD.

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