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  • Channels, Frequencies, and Sequences
  • Michael Brooks Cryer (bio)

You haven’t listened in a while. We’ve chosen this song because we are worried about you. We feel you are midtempo these days. How about an ensemble with your morning jog? Oh, we see you already have one. What’s with the ponytail? Rubber bands are bad for your hair. One of our grandmothers had a rubber-band ball the size of a cantaloupe and used it as a trumpet mute (you could shut up sometimes yourself). Try something similar to speed and power the next time you listen. You’re too close. We see too much of you in this. Distance plus apathy, coupled with fundamentally sound arrangements, will help you find someone new. Take on a new someone, preferably a drummer.

Some people call us a “coincidence-making machine.” That’s nice. But we consider our decisions about you to be even more mysterious, something bigger than all of us. Channel Nine has as much to do with Channel Eleven as a hairpin turn in an automobile race has to do with house sitting. We mean that. This constant shifting about and uprootedness in your listening means something to others’ listening. You should think about that. We want your experience to be as close to someone else’s experience as possible. That’s how movies get made, you know. Think of yourself as a movie with a beginning, middle, and end. You can’t, can you? We’d like to grant you one immediacy: a colorful sequence with dancing. You can dance, can’t you? [End Page 64]

We’re playing this song because it features ambient soundscapes, and we know how much you like to escape. If we could, we would add a deer over there next to the Oldsmobile with the family from Tubac in it. Why is that kid rocking in the backseat? He looks new age, light rock—kind of like a harmony waiting to happen, but he just keeps pounding the shit out of the back of his head on the seat rest. We bet he’ll suffer from extensive vamping later in life. Look, the deer is feeding. It needs grass to survive.

We’re going to exploit your harmonic expressions now. Relax. Attempt to calculate what a prominent saxophone part might signify when moving forward. You’ll only hear silence for the next few measures, and then you might get a little tingly. This means it’s working. Tonight’s ache is brought to you by common listeners like yourself. Your melancholy is happening now.

You are the most important American of the last third of the twentieth century—in part because you turned out to be an important influence on the first few months of this year. Did anyone ever tell you that you used to sound like a train, but you now sound like the time it takes to disembark? It’s as if you are more subtle this year, abandoning a personality you never chose in the first place. There’s the bridge. Take the bridge. You’ll be unsteady at first, but there are influences and then there are influences. We can’t tell you which old-time fruit jug to sip from. Go with your gut. Sip with your seniority. Listen to your boots hammer away at the bridge. Talk to yourself like you’ve been here before. You probably have. [End Page 65]

Michael Brooks Cryer

michael brooks cryer teaches English at Arizona State University. His poems appear in Quarterly West, Hayden’s Ferry Review, DIAGRAM, spork, and others. He lives in Phoenix with his dog, Archie, a volunteer firefighter.


These poems are from the middle section of a chapbook manuscript, Channels, Frequencies, and Sequences. They began as diary entries and morphed into individual Pandora music channels.



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pp. 64-65
Launched on MUSE
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