Juan Morales


Mix tape ghazal

Back in the day, with a boom box, way back

when tapes and CD’s crashed together into the every track,

starting with track one, knowing it’s gotta hook, it gotta rock

and crank into track 2, leaving you wanting another track.

I dig out songs you might have lost, out of print,

and hum them so I won’t forget to put them as the next track.

The dead air between songs varies, but I want

clean bridges and segues, ready to hit pause for the next track.

I am spinning my history through music, raised

on the punk and ska and rock mosaic. Here’s the next track.

Near the end of Side A I squeeze in songs

until there’s no room, afraid of cutting off the last track.

Side B kick-starts my patience, repeat the rewind and retry

past the screw-ups into another track.

The clicks and hiss come when the music’s volume

chops up guitars and bass and drums that riff off the next track.

The bands on my patched-up backpack live on both sides—

always adding bands you need to hear. Next track.

It’s a little clear rectangle handed off with liner notes,

handwritten to tell you who’s next on the track.

Even if a good mix wears out with every play, Juan, we still

share the music’s ache, hungry for the next track.

Juan J. Morales is the author of Friday and the Year that Followed (Bedbug Press).  His poems have appeared in Kweli Journal, Palabra, Poet Lore, Zone 3, and other journals.  He is a CantoMundo Fellow and the Director of Creative Writing at Colorado State University-Pueblo.