What I Got from AM Radio


It never occurred to me
in all these years
of listening to rock and roll
that I signed up a long time ago
for perpetual teenage torture.

It was always a bad moon rising
over my hopes
that some cute boy would ask me out.
Always running on empty into the parties
and out alone onto mean street
wishing a guy with tatoos
and a Harley wanted to sweep me away.
always attracted to poor Italians,
from the wrong side of town,
outsiders born to run
from whatever
was white and good and proper.

And who did I think I could be?
wearing black from the time I was twelve,
wishing for sex and romance
but cooped up in the suburbs
with nothing to do but listen to my AM radio,
feeling lost and
out of all the places I was supposed to be…
there was nowhere I was really supposed to me,
not at home in the afternoons
because no one was there
and no one particularly cared
whether I was there after school
not hanging out at the soda fountain either
because the guy there didn’t like any of us much,
and told us so
although there was never much of an us,
not at a club or a friend’s house either—
I belonged to no place,
had few and fickle friends…
So it was just me and the AM radio
and paper dolls I made of a dream girl
I called Lorraine

who had long hair
and lots of clothes
and nothing much to do,
like me,
but pretty.

So is it any wonder
that I wanted the passion
they sang about in rock and roll songs?
that seemed to stream through the cruel eyes
of the tough boys wearing black leather jackets,
who loitered around the Loew’s downtown,
who themselves had nowhere to go but the streets,
but never my streets.
My streets were full of empty green lawns
trimmed up to English gardens,
and lined with silent houses
divided by hedges,
streets where no one ever even walked their dog,
streets that no one ever wrote a song about
or I never heard one
listening to the radio day or late at night,
alone in my suburban bedroom,
waiting for a cowboy or a hood
to take me away.






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