Jukebox by Pat West


I spent my early years at Scotty’s Place,
in a rural area sixty miles outside Chicago.
Out in corn and dairy farm country
and I still recall the warm brush of angora wool
against my glass, as you leaned over
to read what I had to give, to discover
everything inside me. In 1968, things changed.

You kids left for college or to fight a war
you didn’t believe in.
The new owner packed me off
to storage. For years I stood disconnected
beside my old pal the pinball machine,
next to a refrigerator without a door,
a steering wheel leaning against my back.
Dust motes haze the air, windows thick with grime.

It’s true my needle is dull
and my tone arm sometimes slips
across the music, but my gut’s filled
with all your favorites. Remember
night after Friday night,
how you’d punch that red and white button
F6: It’s Now or Never
and my arm would reach up,
pick the 45, place it on the turntable
in that smoky room. You danced eyes closed,
head tilted back, swaying slow and easy.
When Elvis sang, It’s now or never, be mine tonight,
every girl thought that lanky Southern boy with gyrating hips
meant those words just for her.

Today you’ve hauled me to the cemetery
and placed me over Scotty’s grave
instead of a headstone.
Rather than flowers, you bring rolls of quarters.
I notice lines bracketing your mouth.
You insert ten dollars in even change.
Light-headed, feet pounding the grass, you dance
back those days of rock-and-crazy-roll. I watch
your hips sway and I’m back in that magical spot
once again, I put on my light show,
after all I’m a Wurlitzer peacock,
pulsing green, gold and yellow.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.