Button-Puncher after Dark

After dark, I punched buttons with the
joyful glee of the recently uncaged.

During the day, during the week,
the only radio station in town
played rock ‘n’ roll from three till five o’clock.
That was it.

But at night, oh at night…

Punch one button:

The Kingsmen: Louie, Louie

Punch another button:

Supremes: Where Did Our Love Go?

Punch another:

Beatles: I Want to Hold Your Hand

Commercial, punch a button –
News, punch another –
Hate that song, punch another –
till I could find a gem,
invisible but close-your-eyes real.

Punch, punch, punch, punch…

Roy Orbison: Oh Pretty Woman

Chuck Berry: No Particular Place to Go

Dixie Cups: Chapel of Love

Mary Wells: My Guy

to a date, with a date, from a date, with friends, alone…

New York (WABC, Cousin Bruce Morrow)
Chicago (WLS, Dick Biondi)
Boston (WBZ, Juicy Brucie)

From hundreds of miles away,
the sweet rock and roll flowed in smooth clear leaps.
It sailed on through and found me.
The buttons gave what I wanted, what I needed.
It made me happy then, maybe even happiest then.

(Sometimes Cousin Brucie would play a chunk of
“I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

Rough, raucous, just barely this side of strange…
and I laughed and smiled and sucked it up
like a better-brand paper towel.)

I learned soul, I learned brashness, I learned cool
in my small southern town at night.

Riding in my ’55 Chevy, I was happy and I learned.

Harry W. Yeatts Jr..