Barbara Crooker

45s, LPs*

My autistic son listens to the oldies,
digs that old time rock 'n roll rhythm & blues.
My husband says it's like our teen years
are hanging out in his room, coming from the radio—
When the night is dark, and the land is far
and the moon is the only light you see—

rolling up the sleeves of their black tee shirts,
collapsing on the bed in a froth of petticoats,
what's left on the beach when a wave
subsides and the tide begins to ebb,
plants a kiss on the shore, then rolls
out to sea, and the sea is very still once more.

Baby oil and iodine shine on our arms
and legs, lemon juice in our hair,
plastic transistor radios tuned to The Top Ten.
Get outta that kitchen and rattle them pots 'n pans.
What misfired neurons cause him to shake
and fidget his fingers before his eyes,
call out in class when the teacher's talking,
be out of synch with everyone else?
Up on the roof it's peaceful
as can be, and there the world below
can't bother me.
When we're gone, what then?
What slot will he fit into like a quarter
slipping in a jukebox for three plays,
slow songs you could dance to all night long?

*Previously published in Line Dance


Barbara Crooker is the author of three books of poetry, Radiance, which won the Word Press First Book Award and was a finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize, Line Dance, which won the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence, and More (C&R Press, 2010) She is the recipient of three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships in Literature, the 2003 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, the 2004 WB Yeats Society Prize, and the 2006 Rosebud Ekphrastic Poetry Award.