TAPE HISS: A Mythology

(A spoken word piece)
Days out on the highway bleed into years
Desert landscape driving
Heavy toll –
Headed out west in wayward destinations
Abandoned truck stops
Remembering the nervous trip as night
Unfolds.

Apartment winter chill, moving boxes scattered
Across the floor
Somewhat familiar – useless junk resurrected from ages ago.

Stumbling upon
A few old photos and crumpled
Post-it notes
A childhood address emerges
As light seeps through the door.
It’s my old Siamese cat creeping in slow
His arthritis I can sense with every
Cautious breath he takes
Worsening more.

Unmarked cassette tape in a pile
Defining other lifetimes
A mystery

Ready to reveal –

Evenings at “The Serenity”
Hearing tape hiss
In my brain

A

Cosmic and vibrant feeling
That still remains.

Picture of lost perfection
Black leather couch with cigarette burns
Where two kids used to shut out the world
Committing
Raw words to tape reel.

Saturday evenings,
Mic check,
Beers in hand.

We were allowing demons inside
As they bounced off the
Walls with each recited line.

Sometimes changing them in mid sentence
Other times pretending to be jazz musicians
With nothing but improv on our minds.

Poetry for none to hear but
The dead silence
And tape spinning infinite.

Hearing playbacks
The next day
I recall feeling as if it were an exercise in
Purity
But in reality
Disguised as teenage wisdom
Gone astray.

Time was misspent, much like the broken home syndrome
That made us run away
Making it easier to spit words from paper
Into microphone.

Trying to imagine
All these years later
Dust settles on mythology
Perception becomes clearer
Nothing more than swimming upstream
In a backwards river.

“Stay in touch.”

As years pass and memories disappear
Like wrappers in the backseat
I received a message.

Trying to rekindle a forgotten
Friendship
As if we’d not seen each other
In just the past few weeks.

The cigarette-burnt
Black leather couch used to be
Our only friend
But time came and went
Discovering the lost weekends
Were all we had
After several moments of trying to speak.

No more oversized flannel or ripped jeans
Burning another
Cigarette
Outside your flat – trying to reconnect.

Sometimes the act of growing up
Makes no sense.

“Stay in touch.”

Becoming the very thing
Within pages read aloud
You once dreaded
Hearing tape hiss
Reverberate sound
The cassette sent as a cosmic being
For telling of broken homes, scattered lives and dreams.

A stepson
Whom you despised
Was sent to his room
Numerous times.

In a harsh light
You spoke of your father
Now mirroring his own life
An indelible sorrow crept in like
The Siamese of my latter days;
Sadness on the tips of fingers,
Smoke drifting from
Uneasy breath.

More absent years
Not a word spoken
Suddenly the
Advent of social media arrived
Like waves changing the fabric
Of relationships
Through other peering eyes.

Now behind blank stares on the screen
I see your poems
Frequently
Trying in desperation
To capture serenity
As if it were still felt
Deep
Down inside
Knowing –

It’ll never resurface;
It died with the decade of bad hairdos
And acid wash jeans
Eddie Vedder is left to scream
But even he has aged
And his lyrics are more reflective
In a state of grace
No more

 
REWIND / REPEAT

 

To stay in touch
After years of dead vibes
Is like asking the neighbor
Who never comes outside
To visit.

When the air clears
On what you thought was divine,
Serenity glistens in the sky
For a minute
Then disappears
Like a monkey gone to heaven.

Rough around our own edges
Captured only to serve a
Specific time;

Warped and hissed

Played back on a cassette
Tape hiss
For no one

Not even burnt cigarette memories
Can reminisce.

TDH 2/17/16

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Author: Todd D. Harris, Jr.

Retired military now art school misfit.

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