Falsetto, Meaning False

Saturday mornings, I’d lick
my uncle’s liquor bottles, pretending
I understood Donnie Elbert
the way he did on Friday nights.

Eyes shut, I recited the warped
45’s static plea while almost alien
guitar riffs broadcasted from record player
to living room. A falsetto warbling

into the present: My uncle
slouching against a wall, his thumb
and index finger inches apart –
“It’s like Elbert is this big, performing

on your shoulder, singing just for you”
he said, while the lids of his eyes
dropped like club curtains after an encore.
His face, a swell of red velvet.

He stayed inside those two minutes and
fifty-five seconds, plucking each word
from gravity. The celestial orbit of wax
begging him back to the room’s center

where he’d restart “Never Again”
under a needle, again and again,
the sincerity of his addiction almost
lost to the irony of those repetitions.