My Father’s Music: A Poem by Ace Boggess

By Ace Boggess


My Father’s Music: Mixtape

Dual cassette with dubbing feature:
a modern mystery to him, a found key
minus corresponding door that he might open.
One of his fishing buddies—a man
so slender & dirt-stained no one
would look at him & think him master
of technology—owned the first,
sold mixtapes for twenty dollars.
He had a list naming any song my father wanted.
from the 70s & back: “Everyday” by Buddy Holly,
Dylan, Beatles, Beach Boys, Drifters,
Jan & Dean with “Dead Man’s Curve.”
Dad bought a mixtape every other week,
collecting classics he grew up with,
songs he heard in the Service,
others that helped him recall his wedding &
divorce. He might have stayed married
had he shown my mother such excitement:
the careful choosing, lining up, listening.
No man who loves music is bad at heart,
whether the ballads of whiny Hank
or high-pitched Frankie Valli,
some James Brown, a lot more CCR—
all stirred up in a hunter’s stew,
a gumbo of noise that kept him fed,
then made him hungrier still.

Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His novel, A Song without a Melody, is forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

One comment

  1. This poem reminded me of the audiotapes I found in my father’s apartment after my dad’s death. He recorded things off the radio with all the deftness of Richard Nixon altering the Watergate tapes. He saved polkas and “swing” standards and marching band numbers. It also was quite a “gumbo.” However, for him, i believe they did not leave him hungry, but rather filled his need for something happy and satisfyingly familiar. Hardly a tonic for the ears, when I hear the music he chose, I am aware of his determination to be blaringly present, while remaining true to his past.


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