KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Poem: 281 words

Hierarchy of needs (by guitar players)

by Margaux Griffith
First there was Michael,
Martin always cradled at his side.
I’d pretend not to wait,
anticipate his cool curve
that reverbs under and out,
a frequency prolonged,
                    caught in riff.
He tried to teach me rhythm,
sound, the way music waits,
like I was a child,
and this was the first song I’d ever heard.
Like he was Guthrie, Young, or Cash,
maybe even Clapton on nights
we lay inside the six-string—
                    hums like handsaw,
like a buzzing against teeth.

Jordan liked to let it ride.
He’d slide along his Fender,
fingers rattle and glide.
I’d imagine he was Petty,
Richards, even Reed,
and clamp down,
            wait for the pause.
Smoke bled from his mouth
a cyst, a scar, and he would stop
abruptly to say something like:
I’m all about the noise, babe.
As if I had forgotten what he was,

Of course, there was Mathew,
technically a bass player,
                    Metal by trade.
I’d trace his dahlia tattoo
and connect the dots fastened to his spine.
Some nights he would whisper
Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and even
Black Flag lyrics through the pillow case
into my ear. I would lie mutely,
hold my breath, and wait, want words
to mean more, like an embarrassment
misplaced, deposited under the bed.
Staccato, I’d grow impatient,
roll to the B-Side, hope
to know what I already knew.

Jeremy owned a Gibson,
slung across his shoulders
like some sort of hopeless renegade.
He dreamed of Page and Hendrix,
woke me late in the night to explain
the complexities to his music.
Like he was the musician,
like he could pluck me bare.
And I listened
                    and listened

and believed.

Margaux Griffith
Issue 3, Spring 2015

is a MFA Poetry graduate at Oklahoma State University. She won the 2012 Anderbo Poetry Prize for her poem “Apple Galette” as well as the 2015 Blue Bonnet Poetry Poetry Prize for her poem “Routine,” and was also the 2012 Honorable Mention for the Academy of American Poets Prize. She has publications in The Boiler Journal, The Citron Review, and Hot Metal Bridge.

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