Poem for Record Players 


For their relentlessness, their 

clever launching of the needle’s

secrets skyward, their luring 

the needle to the hiccupping 

end, for the red record player

by the low beveled window 

with hollyhocks outside and 

Rusty in Orchestraville turning 

and Markie drooling and reaching 

his hand to stop the turning, then 

drawing it back, remembering. 

For Markie with his scratched brain,

his flinging seizures, who would

bump the needle and jump from 

the part of “The Swan,” by Sasson,

to the talking oboe, Markie 

dancing, the needle floating 

hardily along its new groove.

And for the gray living-room player,

for my father’s Tchaikovsky 

and Beethoven, my mother’s

Oklahoma and South Pacific. For 

my silly nostalgia, all of it, even then. 

My hopeless longing:  the absence 

necessary for harmony to enter, 

the needle of disharmony to press 

against it.  “Oh What a Beautiful 

Morning,” my father is singing, 

and my mother is singing in fragile

harmony with the one phonograph 

speaker, all poured directly into

the palpitating rooms of my heart. 

This is it, Oh, no such bright 

golden haze on the meadow, no such

corn high as an elephant’s eye.