Sarah Awad  © 2016 All Rights Reserved

All a Boy Needs

That distorted twang as a boy discovers
he is no longer a boy—frantic agony,
then furious delight. A blonde
Les Paul in a pawn shop window,
a battered Stratocaster, its most perilous
licks yet undiscovered. O beauty like
death anticipating release with each
string pluck, each fingertip creased
with teen angst. The woodsman’s
phallus and the headsman’s axe,
both keening for flesh. The body is
temporary but the guitar is eternal,
all hard tail and output jack, all F-hole
and whammy bar. O electromagnetic
induction for the Fuzzbox, hammer
on for the humbucker. A Flying V
squealing for the quasar, a Squier
Telecaster abandoned at a garage sale.
Pete Townsend’s windmilling
arms, Jimi Hendrix’s tongue
of flame, Slash’s hat pulled low
while his fingers produce exquisite
torment for a child standing in front
of the mirror, his father’s guitar
slung six inches below his belt buckle.
O strangled cat and car crash
after the bars close. O imaginary
constellations in the outlines
of a frowzy headed boy. You will
never learn to play that thing.
You will play it forever.


Kids in the Mosh

We are a jumble, banging
ourselves against each other
                                                    at a basement concert
    like the ocean throws itself
    against itself. When flesh collides
                                                   for the troglodytes
with flesh, our sweaty bodies
thrill for the belly slap,
                                                   we throw elbows and knees
    for the rowdy bone dance.
    At the heart of every riot
                                                   in the Devil’s name
is desire launching us
in every direction at once.
                                                   We bang around because
    at the essence of all things
    is the atom. We are shaken—
                                                   we know how it feels
when atoms collide. We can crack
the Earth against the moon
                                                   to lose ourselves
    out in space, the stars will fall
    apart like we are jarred
                                                   not into furious combat,
out of our skeletons, rocked
off our skulls for the cataclysm,
                                                   but back into ourselves

W.Todd Kaneko
Copyright © 2016  

W. Todd Kaneko is the author of The Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor, 2014). His work can be seen in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, The Normal School, The Collagist, Barrelhouse and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of Waxwing magazine and teaches at Grand Valley State University.

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