Of course everyone leaves. The best we can get is to remember the ones made fun of, to decipher words left to die, plastic shovels under sand. What if no one had noticed when the phoenix rose, no one had recognized the meaning of the mural in the church that showed men pointing at each other? The disembodied mistook them for break dancers transferring energy. We know God gave Adam syncopation, warned him to beware the thieves of rhythm. We took drum kits for granted until they became extinct. Programmed beats had begun their rise to power long before synth-pop syndicates turned in their souls, long before garages had ceased to echo. It took only a day for the metal tendrils to run through all the instruments, through all the musicians. Shrewd cult figures crammed into time capsules without a shred of sweat, DNA firewalled with only buttons to think-push, buttons to mimic the present tense. Humanity would be left to slither in sound-proof armor, to stretch plastic across black market cylinders. All would be committed to mp3 and promptly incinerated, metronome of work overlapping the real art, ashes to flight.
Title is a lyric from “Perfect Way” by Scritti Politti (#11 on Billboard Hot 100, 1985).
Daniel M. Shapiro is the author of the celebrity-centered poetry collection How the Potato Chip Was Invented (sunnyoutside, 2013) and several chapbooks, including Heavy Metal Fairy Tales (Throwback Books, forthcoming). He is a poetry editor with Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and he interviews poets online at Little Myths.