Rodney Torreson


The Jukebox Was the Jury of Their Love

Attentive quarters slipped into their slots,
the Temptations with “My Girl,”
the Zombies’ “Time of the Season,”
in his girl’s eyes derision,
though the jury was still out.
His palm on the bible of her hand
promised to tell the truth, but he was edging
back from rumors how he’d caught
some girl up against
the pool table, and the two of them
got lost in the coat rack.
“Liar, Liar,” called Three Dog Night,
as he hung his head, his girl crying
on someone else’s dime.
“Oh, yes,” her coin; he remembered now
her quick trip to the Wurlitzer in her mini,
adjusting the belt, so it fell closer to the knee,
her righteousness worked out
in a sense of modesty
she never had while they had dated.
Now she was weeping for herself,
not this dumb guy who’d walk
her right out of this small town
through the Box Tops’ “Neon Rainbow”
and into the “city night,
the pretty lights” as if after high school
it would save their souls.
Now here the song was again,
and his girl was coming on slow, having
bought off the jury with another quarter.
In their slow crawl, he finally
felt her fingers upon the sentient galaxy
of his wrists, and what would you know?—
now spun the Buckingham’s cover
of Cannonball Adderly’s
“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”

The poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2007-2010, RODNEY TORRESON is the author of four books. A fifth book of poems, co-authored with Russell Thorburn and forthcoming from Finishing Line Press, is entitled The Jukebox Was the Jury of Their Love. In addition, Torreson has poems soon to appear in Artful Dodge, Canary, Comstock Review, Miramar, Poet Lore, and several anthologies.