7-inch: Watchin’ the Detectives by Elvis Costello
1977 Stiff Records BUY 20, solid-centre
Favorite Track: Mystery Dance (live)
“Elvis Costello is just like these pants / Snug and close to my lady parts.”
The drum fill reverberated around the student hall. The lead singer was a stick figure with liberty spikes. She held the microphone wrapped around one wrist, her other punching the keyboard with ferocious palm smacks. Next to her, the bassist whipped his long-hair into a cyclone of unwashed split ends. Captain Legible did his normal dance, which remained obscene in twenty states.
“They’re great!” Yasmeen said to her best friend David, “What are their names again?”
“Yoga Nipple. Kind of a weird name.”
“I think it came from a Lord Buckley Loaf poem. You know, the poet who tried to turn the Appalachian Trail into a giant orgone energy accumulator.”
The song ended with the cymbal broken and spinning across the wooden floor. Two students tussled over it before the square-jawed drummer of the opening act stepped on it with his combat boots. The lead singer reached over the amps and pulled out a slim book of Lord Buckley Loaf’s poetry and began to recite:
“Lawn gnomes live between my toes
Planting herb gardens in rows
As I spread their seeds underfoot
Where I walk a hearty feast grows.
Tapioca is just soul pudding
In the godless subconscious wooding
Where in the dark cackle the psycho crows
And the misfits are known for brooding.”
David and Yasmeen put their arms around each other and snapped a photo of each other with their phones. There was unspoken apprehension in the atmosphere between the two college students. The semester was ending and David was going to Iowa for the Fall for a series of poetry workshops. He never told her about the time he held Brian in his arms as he sobbed into his shoulder when Yasmeen broke up with him. All the jealousy he had about his best friend dating the girl he was secretly in love with had dissolved under the nearly inaudible lamentations of a, albeit temporary, broken man. Yasmeen never told him she wrote him a love letter but lost it before she could give it to him, which, after three nights of discussion with her mother, she discovered she really cared for Brian instead.
It was April 1st, the start of National Poetry Month. Tonight, as they walked arm in arm toward the student dormitories, emotions were best left for the page. The written word bleeds more fiercely on the skin of paper.
Inside David’s head, he began to compose:
“In school, they taught us that love is like a red, red, rose.
To me, it was a kiss at a STOP sign.”