From It’s Hard Being Queen: The Dusty Springfield Poems:

Dust, Musings
(at an unspecified moment)

Who can explain the accidents of birth?
She could have been a speckled trout,
a peacock, diamond, boy. Her talents
went straight to her throat, her ears
(dimming her eyes, her fans in later
years a screamy blur of love). If, falling
from her pram, she’d died, there’d be
no fans. Who can know the figments
of life, its angers? Her father’s fingers
leafing through tax blanks, should have
shaken some concert hall’s ivory keys.
Her mother numbed by a drug called
Technicolor, lost in the movie house.
The adolescent monster in the mirror,
her – a girl no good at swimming,
Jane Austen, or anything.
Who can predict when the glass
will finally speak – Open your mouth –
reach deep into your throat, it’s all
there: fish, bird, gem, boy, song.

The Record Shop
1951. She strides forth, clears her throat:

“I’d like to make a record, please.”
The shopkeeper bends over the counter
to better see her. He laughs. “Are you
legal?” “Of course not,” she says,
“but I’ve got the quid so let me
make my record, maybe then they’ll
believe me.” “Who?” “My family.”
Whoever she is, she saddens him –
one more war baby with bad nerves,
hundreds unhinged by that mess. Well
if it makes her feel better, why not?
Her song heaves from her throat –
When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves
for Alabam. Just as he thought –
no child should sound so old so dark –
so knowing in a circus kind of way.
He wraps the grooves engrained
with her song. His hands shake.
For years the midnight choo choo
haunts his ears.

A Brief History of Vinyl

A record is a palimpsest, an incest
of sound. A drill-bit riding a carousel
at midnight. The world’s most whopping
layer cake. Not even the piggiest
piglets among you can ever eat your way
to the bottom. The backtracks
have backtracks. Sound behind sound
behind sound. Rave all you want
about your good ears, they’ll never
reach her record’s acoustic back country
and what a blessing – Buddy Rich
is calling her a bitch, there, a limey
broad. That human thud you can’t hear
is old Ida Metzger sailing onto Dusty’s
roadster’s hood. Then there’s wretched
blubbering Mary O’Brien won’t that
bloody cow stop and a myriad of other
frequencies you’re not picking up –
the clanking of eyelashes finale
of teacups hitting the wall Martha Reeves
howling as sardines fly into her
exquisite cocoa collarbones.
You can’t hear any of this.

The Producer’s Poem

…she had an obscure avant-garde genius as her goal.
―Tom Dowd

If he had hair
he’d tear it out.
Hour nine, she records
the same syllable again,
again, again. She makes her art
one syllable at a time and it
hurts to watch. He can’t hear a hair
of difference between sounds, it’s one tick
of the clock against another.

Copyright © Jeanette Lynes, 2008