How the Concert
Almost Drowned the Music

The irony was that
I liked listening to music


like coffee, black

volume up a notch or two
to catch my wandering mind and
make it stay
make it focus
lose myself in it
find myself in it

* * *

Where I lived, concerts were a rare thing
concerts by groups I liked
rarer still

When a group I liked came one spring evening
I went to see them, hear them

form the words with their mouths
form the notes with their fingers
form the night with their energy

The place was jammed and warmed up
The people were ready
I was ready

They took their places,
looking like they did on their album covers

and hit that first note

The volume jumped
from good loud to
marrow-sloshing LOUD

and the people jumped up as one
as if the electric guitars
were hard wired to their seats,
the current flowing straight on to their brains

And they were happy, as if
was what they really came to feel
to inhale it
have it run full throttle through them

It was not my loud

but a LOUD that made
the harmony gasp
the rhyme spit and choke
the subtlety gurgle
the licks screech and moan

all drowned in the waves of
thumping, painful

* * *

A while later,
when my marrow settled,
I listened again to the music
I had hoped to hear then,
but this time at my own loud

And it was still there
the lyrics, the rhyme, the voices, the licks
still good.

And so I revived the music
and so I undrowned the music

Yet even then, and even now
I still hear the near-drowning of that music

Harry W. Yeatts Jr.