for Peter Robinson
I was listening to Dylan’s Time Out of Mind,
his late renewal after wasted years
– all simmer and wry despair –
to find that maybe he was rated again.
The voice was a wreck on a burnished track,
the songs a palimpsest of antique blues.
In the end the words will come
if they have to, like music that’s ghosted
by echoes stored in a phonograph’s horn
– remembering now stereogram.
Was that what we called it?
It was more like a sideboard
than a sound machine
with its glossy veneer and gilt trim.
Its clunking drop-down front
revealed a deck and storage,
a radio that warbled and seethed.
Picking up on Dylan,
I worked back to his debut album.
On the sleeve he was just a kid,
dressed like a vaudeville hobo,
yet seemed to dig deeper than most.
When he sang about death
he ripped through hokum.
We had all our lives before us.