Poets Online Archive

Song On The Radio 


You hear a song on the radio - and instantly you think of a time, a place, a person. Is it the lyric? The last time you heard it?

Songs can conjure strong memories. I'm driving and a Bob Dylan song comes on, or an old Beatles tune. I can tell you where I was when it first came out, who I was with, what we were doing.

Give us a poem inspired by a song on the radio. Forgot the lyrics? Try here. Or just put on the radio.

For more on all our prompts and other things poetic, check out the Poets Online blog.


My college copy of the Norton Poetry Anthology
had Bob Dylan on the same pages as Richard Wilbur
and Jonathan Swift, grouped together by some thread
of morning imagery like three songs on the radio
played as a suite
I'm not sleepy and here ain't no place I'm going to,
Outside the open window
the morning air is all awash with angels
some are in bed sheets, some are in blouses,
Now Betty from her master's bed had flown,
and softly stole to decompose her own.
It lay on my window ledge
where I had placed it after reading myself tired
where I would find it when I awoke.
Sometimes I opened it with the morning
using it like some psychic crystal
asking it what that day would be
getting as my reply the page opened
to Ode on Solitude, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock,
When I Do Count the Clock, Aubade.
then turn on the radio
woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head
Its red cover like the sacred heart
draws my eye to the street outside
and love calls us to the things of this world.

Lianna Wright



I've chosen Debussy to be played at my funeral.
It's known well enough that some there will recognize it,
yet not too well known, which is good because I wouldn't want jokes
about it ( Reverie means daydream - get it? ) circling around the room.
I've been listening to various recordings of it
Van Cliburn piano, Turtle Island String Quartet,
perhaps a tape of many versions,
a kind of funeral soundtrack would be best.
It would be nice if a friend of mine who plays the viola would give a live performance
( Get it? It's live but he's dead.)
but I can't guarantee that we will still be friends
when the time comes,
safer to just leave the recordings in with my will,
always safest to think these things through,
get it down on paper,
make your choices,

Charles Michaels



he sings of her face
comparing angelic things
he sings of her skin, the skin that makes him cry
my thoughts exist outside of these lyrics
i see him;
sitting on the beach; sipping at his drink
bare toes moving lazily in the sand
listening to a song, a song he loves
his eyes shine dancing brilliantly
the reflection of the fire
causing the perfect features of his face
to glow with appreciation
the song continues, but i am not here

i am in the car with him
on the way back home
the song is played
he leans carelessly back
closing his eyes of crystal
allowing the music to seep through his soul
as he smiles perfectly, unintentionally
the song reminds me of him
and of my love

i remember how i used to smile
turning up the radio
i'd think only of him
now when it is played
i feel a hard lump begin to form in my throat
my eyes begin to sting
and i quickly switch off
the music and with it end these feelings
for i do not wish to think of these things
of how we are now apart...
all this brought back simply by one singing
but not even singing of the subject of my pain
and by the music of one who knows nothing of me

these things matter not at all
i will not listen to the beautiful song
the song that will forever remind me;
of my unwavering venerability

from 7734@yahoo.com




A day of plans to be with you,
but once again you didn't feel
well. Because I love you the way I do,
I stayed there sitting on the floor,
beside you while you were on the couch
wrapped in a blanket, looking so perfect.
There was nothing I could possibly want more.

You said it was cold inside, so I
felt your forehead, then your hand.
Underneath the covers, you squeezed my
hand gently. I can't understand you,
wanting to be friends and nothing more.
There was love and intimacy, but I could see
your lover would always be between us,
I guess you don't know me.

Vanessa Reballosa

(inspired by Jann Arden's song of the same title)