Elegy for the CD

Philip Metres

To extract, surgically,
                                                   the impossible
shrink wrap lock, like some postmodern bra,

(having searched through bin
                                                                after cut-
bin for something cut-
                                                   rate that might cut out

your heart), and slip
                                      in the glinting mirror
                                                                of a disc,
let the laser caress
                                                   its digital hieroglyphs.

To fling yourself on the treelawn
now your couch and spread out
                                                                the centerfold

of lyrics.
                                      To lie like an analysand,
eyes closed, and let someone
                                                   else’s sound

come out of your mouth
                                                   to now reveal
            to yourself. As if they knew so well

what you could not admit
                                                                in words, and yet
nod your head to its irresistible beat.


Repeat. Shuffle
                                                   your feet across the room,
await a last song unlisted, and buried

in minutes of silence
                                                   at the disc’s end…
the album done, you emerge from the tomb

of your rented bedroom,
                                                   a graduate
grabbing on to your twenties
                                                                             and freedom

and wind down Mt. Auburn Street, autumn,
turn though the open
                                                   cemetery gates,

the songs still sound-tracking your every step
as if your life were
                                                   someone else’s

and you did not know where
                                                                             you would end up
but felt
                                                   as if you were already dead,

and these songs the last things
                                                                             buzzing, drunken

                                                   down the entrance
                                                                             ramp of your head.

Philip Metres has written numerous books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon, 2020). Winner of Guggenheim, Lannan, and NEA fellowships, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University, and core faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA.

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