10 December 2016, Mykel Board, ‘The Spoken Word’

How many records to file? Six hundred I think. Ah, nice, only 506. Getting the last of the records out of boxes and onto the shelves is the task I set for myself today instead of going out and buying more records. I want the new Common LP, and it’s been a long time since I went digging for real. I plundered some thrift store stacks when we were shopping for furniture for the new place and found a couple decent sides, but it’s been too long since I flipped through a bin of disco 12s and walked off with a stack of the good stuff.

Not going to the record store. Not going to the record store. Filing the records I already have. Right. But I saw a post on Facebook that recycles the slogan “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one,” and I got to thinking about a recording of a poem about that very slogan and the line of reasoning it represents. I couldn’t recall easily the name of the poet, the title of the poem, or the CD of mine from which it came; I only remembered a few lines from the poem, including “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.”

Along with the five boxes of records to I’ve yet to file, there are another five boxes of CDs stacked in the corner, and those poor things don’t even have a shelf to go home to, nor do I have a catalog of the CD collection yet, so the only way to figure out which disc I had that poem on it was to scroll through the “My CDs” crate in my Serato library. The poem I wanted was near the middle of the list on a disc called Less Rock More Talk from AK Press. It took hours to find, but I’m glad I found it, because Mykel’s Board’s poem “The Spoken Word” is better than I remembered.

Board opens by placing a drawn-out whine on the last syllable of each line in a parody of that ’90s spoken word style that’s now been peppered with more passion but remains pervasive in the scene. “The thing / I hate most / about spoken word / is that the guys who do it / always use this stupid voice. / They make it sound like every word / is important / and what they’re saying is so profound. / It’s as if they learned English from a cassette machine / where the little belt that moves the tape / is wearing out.” Hilarious and totally unrelated to the rest of the poem. In fact, in the next line or two Board says “so I’m not going to do it” and drops the shtick.

In addition to the poet, poem title, and CD title, I couldn’t remember how one could argue against that whole “don’t like abortion? don’t have one” line of reasoning without winding up on the wrong side of the issue, so I was heartened as I recalled the last lines while they played: “You don’t like murder? / Don’t kill anyone…. / That’s being ‘pro-choice.’ / Now, don’t get me wrong, / I’m pro-abortion. / We don’t have enough of them. / But I’m not pro-stupidity / or pro-cliché / or pro-thoughtlessness. / Abortion isn’t murder; that’s the key, / not that if you don’t like something evil you don’t do it. / A fetus isn’t a human. / Humans are born, that’s it. / A fetus is no more born than an appendix is born. / Abortion is no more evil than an appendectomy. / But bumper sticker brains are not going to solve the problem.” That phrase “bumper sticker brains” was one that jumped into my mind and sent me on my quest to track down the poem. Of course now that I’ve found it, I should probably start putting some records on the shelves.