The Apostrophe Blog
Photo by Lee Campbell
My poem, “Revolutions per Minute”—a very freewheeling, free verse persona poem about being an actual, physical pre-vinyl long-playing record—found a home in the Soundtracks Issue of Raven Chronicles, A Journal of Art, Literature & The Spoken Word in September 2014.
The Raven Chronicles Press is a nonprofit independent publishing press and literary organization established in Seattle in 1991. According to their website, they “strive to publish and showcase work that embodies the cultural diversity of writers and artists; work that expresses family and forebears; work that connects with the soil, water, and air of place and home. To this end, Raven Chronicles Press will publish the work of traditional storytellers, along with experimental work in emerging forms of art and literature.”
Revolutions Per Minute
Until the switch to vinyl started in the late 1940s, most gramophone records (78 r.p.m.)
were pressed from a mixture of shellac (a secretion from the lac beetle) and slate dust.
Shellac 78s are [notoriously] brittle…In the event of a 78 breaking, the pieces might
remain loosely connected by the label and still be playable…although there is
a loud “pop” with each pass over the crack, and breaking of the stylus is likely.
by a stylus, separated, tracks.
Sequenced to be changed,
to be stacked
Into my cut,
with a tick, a pop.
Spirals of the
dale to hills where you strut
where I burn
to cue. Me who could never forsake
one more of your tricks
to spin me
to the locked
Were once shellac.
First cousin of the frankincense and myrrh!
Oh, how I continuously waxed!
Ceded the pigeon pea, rain tree, dhak
to the female lac
to make her scarlet, resinous
later scraped then flaked
To this whisper your stylus inside
my groove, me woozy, and scored
To spindle, collapsible arm.
To murmur past
More sizzle meets
More love, shellacked.
Because you forever delivered
to red, the cochineal. Every coracle
round-skinned, Tigris-bound. You
whittled to sharp, once reed that seeded
the Euphrates marshland, holy
It will take years and The Voice of Frank Sinatra
to wind my
in the Mahabharata, an entire palace built of
Sapphire, maybe diamond, you who split
me, marked me, turned me
to this tinny ghost of sound.
See, I shatter to pieces, too.
I was once
a tablet then the record after list.
Pierced by your stylus. Separate, tracked.
Sequenced to change the stack and
Center from the edge
I sting. I swerve.
Decibels above the spit?
The endless spiral of my