Let me not Lord be reduced
to playing this Top Forty repertoire
at the junction of 5 and 25 forever,
my throat hoarse from the chorus,
my drummer deaf, my Silvertone untuned.
Let not the song be Taking Care of Business
memento mori embalmed in a museum
slogan ripped from a vintage tour jacket
as my voice goes pebbly with road rash
as my tuning goes awry as do the drums
and a breeze blows through the same junction
among the auctioned and the yard-sale items.
You know them well: dusty flat-top acoustics
and the gadgetry that could be my equipment
and more deal night-stands, and other excess junk,
their would-be seller’s hands in pockets
as if to apologize for how the veneer peels
from the dresser he would give away
as if to say I have nothing to show for it
although this sale is final. As I try to master
a riff that won’t come and the lunch crowd
has other things in mind than my music–
let not music be the vehicle by which to express
a life of emotion, let it not be my cage–
when a patron schools me keep your day job
Let me take it with a grain of salt cast behind the shoulder,
let the rebuke be nothing as I pack the instruments
in coffins of pasteboard, join the throng across
as if the junction was a shallow river forded
with clogs or with clown suits cast off in hospices
because these are my friends for whom I play so poorly
and I know the ones among them who have passed.
SCOTT PENNEY lives in Bradford VT. Recent publications have appeared in Artful Dodge, basalt, Faultline, Fugue, Salon(VT), BlazeVox, and The Opiate. In 2014, he was a resident of the MacDowell Colony.