Karaoke – Yawp


Brendan Walsh

your song has always been “Semi-Charmed Life”

since you, lager-swaggered, picked up a mic

in the electric smoke of Korean

karaoke clubs, fifteen humans packed

and swaying, chanting i want something else

all close-throated and red-eyed, wanting things,

other things, not those grinding boozy nights,

not 6am singing til breakfast spots 

shook sleep from neon streetlights. your song is

“Semi-Charmed Life” because you can afford

to be basic in front of some dull mic,

you don’t care. don’t care. you’re blazing shameless.

don’t care that everyone knows the chorus,

because only the few who own these words

have each verse burnt in them like The Lord’s Prayer–

everybody’s ready with doo-doo-doo

but once I’m packed and I’m holdin hits

they all shove straws in their teeth and watch

a body become song and heat. been yours

since 1997 when all three 

radio stations played Sugar Ray’s “Fly”

or Third Eye Blind two-hundred times per day

so you couldn’t wait to get in your mom’s

minivan and hear the drums burst into 

rolling angst that you understood but didn’t

understand; you simply knew it blew up

inside your skull and bled the warm hum

of pure energy like burning liquor

in your limbs–you’re never too young to learn

the world punches people apart, picks

them pale of each thing but Desire,

the something else they want but never have,

you can’t be too young to realize the want

follows you everywhere, still you’re trying

to get through this, somehow, and somehow you

never forget the words, even after 

you’ve pulled the curtain on this life, baby,

and only found fetid scraps of charm;

sound-drunk up there on the mic, you’re spinning

recklessly into verses like you’ve done 

for twenty-something years; this is your best

impression of getting through this life, baby.

More poems:

Rainbow Food


Milkshakes in the Rain

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