Wesley Rothman’s poems and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, Asheville Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Drunken Boat, Four Way Review, New England Review, PANK, Post Road, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Southeast Review, Vinyl, and The White Review, among others. He has worked with Copper Canyon Press, Ploughshares, Narrative, Salamander, and Tupelo Quarterly, and teaches writing and cultural literatures at Emerson College, Suffolk University, Berklee College of Music, and Grub Street Writers’ Workshop. Recent honors include Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations, a Vermont Studio Center fellowship, and finalist standing for the Emory Poetry Fellowship and 49th Parallel Poetry Prize. His manuscript was recently named a semi-finalist for the Crab Orchard Poetry Series First Book Award.
Lowering the needle, I scalpel the groove,
a guitar’s slur my unsteady finger
interrupts—the vinyl myth of America
scratched and slipped sleevewise. Dark in its slim case
a guitar’s slur steadies my fingers
startled by shot hole headlines. I’m
scratched, slipped sleevewise, shelved in a slim case,
and darkened, dimmed under each deep
chord strummed. Startled by shot headlines
low beats loop, the needle riding back
and darkened under deep dim
repeating, deep dim repeating, deep dim
low beats loop, the needle slipping back.
I’ve lowered the needle jittery, scalpeling
the groove, an alteration to soft vinyl,
to hot notes, an interruption to America’s vinyl myth.
From the deep, dark eye, the fat
bellow stoking air, the hairs
that line ear caverns vibrate. Echo
thumps through muscle threads,
through whatever threads of reason
remain, shredded by tweeter, by
treble, the shrill thinning
of conviction. The smooth black
globe throbs, a sub-
terranean hum, bumping
the beat often confused
with hearts, pulsing us
onward, switched up every now
and now. Now, from the spun
and spinning magma
of a dark planet, bass bears
heat and rattled sound
to their graves, bound
by each changing track.
Every album drops
to silent headphones.