John McDermott: "Broken Jukeboxes Half Buried in Sand"




The beach is littered with them,

their front glass cases shattered

in spider-web designs, their colored

lights dark, most of their buttons jammed

tight, no F7 or B4 in working order.

A dollar hasn’t bought five songs

in decades and none of the forty-fives

spin and they all surely skip.  The crowded

boardwalks and bars are empty now,

empty of everything but a million grains

of sand and dirty change, grimy quarters

and ghosts milling about with their pockets

pulled out like gray tongues, laundry day

for little children, nothing in their pants

and nothing left to hold on to, not even humming.

They’re as silent as the dead machines—

the only sound the tides, the tides against

rusting metal and stacks of cracked records.



John McDermott's poems have appeared in Big Muddy, Cold Mountain Review, Pif Magazine, Seneca Review, and Tar River Poetry.