– Joe Jackson
Was I really only 13 then? Lined up with classmates in the playground waiting for the mad dash toward high school and planning our gradation dance, I had nothing but some broken home fragments that rattled like latchkeys in my pockets–how I scratched my fingers on them from time to time. There were girls I dreamt about; surely their eighth grade boyfriends I believed were never good enough because they weren’t me. Joe Jackson on the Top 40 those weeks– Casey Kasem moving him closer to the chart top each Saturday, counting down. It wasn’t disco. It wasn’t the blues though I wanted to use the gravel I consumed each hour to growl along and shimmy my hips. I dreamt dance floors, dreamt of Eileen, of Suzette, of Jill, of so many names I can’t recall. The world was changing, our bodies were changing, my music, too. In another year I’d howl along with buzz saw guitars & tommy gun drums as if my bones could no longer bear frustration.
Is she really gonna take him home tonight?
Joe knew the answer. Only 13, I did, too: duh. Thus we learned the order of things, and thus we stepped closer to becoming the adults we never foresaw as in a dark room a radio played the national anthem of the small country that is the self.
Gerry LaFemina's latest collection of prose poems is Notes for the Novice Ventriloquist. Among his ten other books is the novel Clamor (2013, Codorus Press) and Vanishing Horizon (2011, Anhinga Press). In 2014 a new collection of poems, Little Heretic, and a collection of essays on poets and poetry, Palpable Magic, will be released by Stephen F. Austin University Press. He directs the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing at Frostburg State University and divides his time between Maryland and New York.