Take a second to honor
the amplifiers that made
the music louder, swung it
from parlor to night club to
theater and then arena;
commemorate the day feedback
came to be, the day distortion
came to be; salute the heat
of gain, the saintly shiver
of spring reverb, the jaw-clench
of chorus all carried
by boxes marked Fender
and Gibson, Supro and Vox,
Marshall, Mesa Boogie,
Randall and Roland; Orange,
Peavey, Hartke, and all those
one-offs and forgotten names,
tubes aglow in each
like the candles on so many cakes:
happy birthday to the Big Noise.
I’ve been called that by some to indicate
that in me they see a departure from the norm
as if my torsion is not natural.
They have never marveled
at the growth of a vine.
They never marvel
at the growth of a vine, instead
falling upon their knees before
the straightest trees they could find
and bowing their heads.
They bow their heads before
the straightest trees. They stand
in the empty space between them
and cut down anything around
that is torqued and bent.
I sit at night, torqued and bent within,
glad to turn my face from the straight
and tall. I turn that word over and under
on my curling tongue and listen
to the breaking trunks in a hard wind.
In a hard wind the straightest trees
snap and shatter and fall first. Outside
the tended grove the gnarled vines
and brush moves and shakes, but remains
strong. I whisper the name they gave me,
and I endure.