The People's Poet Tony Robles–SF Art commission award winning Author of cool don't live here no more and fingerprints of a hunger strike

Dead Air


I. Testing testing one-two-three
There was a radio station at my
School and there was a booth
With a microphone and a DJ behind the
Glass and those buttons and switches
Lit like Xmas candy and melting butterflies
And I thought it was an aquarium of sound
And I remember my grandmother telling me
About a guy who said, “There’s a sucker born
Every minute” and I was in school and I
Couldn’t be a sucker and I’d watch the DJ
Talk into the mic behind that glass
As those candy lights glowed
And I thought, this must be real

II. Testing testing one-two-three
I got on that radio station after
Much testing about the history of radio
And basic audio production and the difference
Between amplitude modulation and frequency
Modulation and a potentiometer or “Pot” for
Short and I smoked no pot but the pots were
Round and they controlled the meter and the
Little needle that fluttered back and forth, trying
To stay out of the red, don’t over-modulate but
Don’t under-modulate either, watch the needle,
Always watch the needle

III. Testing testing one-two-three
First day on the air, I was given an
Airshift sometime in the afternoon and I sat
In the booth with two turntables, cart machines,
A microphone and all those candy colored buttons
And I sat in a chair that had wheels but there was
No safety belt and I proceeded to play a record at
The wrong speed and I forgot to sign my program
Log and I turned on the mic, all I had to say were
The station’s call letters: K-C-S-F
And I had rehearsed it hundreds of times, in my
Sleep, in the halls, in the toilet…four simple letters
And I took a deep breath as the candy colored
Lights held breath

IV. Testing testing one-two-three
Man, what the fuck was that? The
Lights asked. You got popcorn stuck
In your mouth? Can’t you talk? Can’t
You say four simple letters? My tongue
Mastered every imaginable knot. The hard
Candy lights were splinters on my tongue
Leaving me with neon colored paper cuts that
Bled the color of leaves falling silently outside
The building while I tried over and over to say
4 simple letters: K-C-S-F

V. Testing testing one-two-three
I finally got those call letters out
Of my mouth as well as the time and
Temperature and I gave the time so much
That I began giving the time in different time
Zones and the temperatures on different planets
All of this while eating potato chips and getting
Fingerprints on the buttons and switches

VI. Testing testing one-two-three
One day the microphone died
The candy colored buttons wouldn’t light up
The turntables came to a halt
I opened my mouth…K-C-S-F
And nothing came out but shadows wrapped
In the skin of warped records and I coughed
Hard and the station engineer, who looked like
He came straight out of the Farm Bureau of
Investigation kicked open the door and said, what
The hell did you do? And I opened my mouth but
All that came out was dead air

VII. Testing testing one-two-three
Testing the temperature
Testing the time
Testing the waters of sound
Testing the dimly lit lights
No microphone
No booth
No glass
Just air

VII. Testing testing one-two-three
Four simple letters, K-C-S-F
A poem
From outside the glass
Dead air, alive
among the leaves

© 2018 Tony Robles