you are in the diode archives fall 2010



First Concert

In front of us were teenagers with shoe polish black mohawks passing a joint back and forth. One with hair pulled into nails, glistering with gelatin. Then the lights went down, and we could feel Lee Rocker’s bass lines filling our chests. Our hearts pulled taut and plucked, amplified. I was a small kid, eleven years old and unsure, grinning with a contact buzz. Then my friend nudged me and pointed again. We followed the glowing speck as it spun and landed on lips, brightening for a sec, and then lost in smoke. Brian Setzer, skinny and tattooed, was all sleeveless and snarl. His tempered crooning. Slinging his glittery electric hollow body. He strummed and stamped his buckled boots, the stage looking slick with sweat and colored lights. I want to believe that I was learning something about the world. On the car ride home, my friend and I punched each other. We didn’t know how to feel, so we took it out on one another. The lights on the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel ticked by, combing through the interior of the Cadillac. I would look up and see my friend’s father nodding to the music on the radio, his gray mop of hair swatting at the stretched cloth of the ceiling. Strands stood on end like an orb of electricity, one of those glass balls you might find crackling with small neon lightning in a novelty storefront window. My friend punched me in the stomach and laughed. We scrambled into the trough of the floorboard and I returned the gesture. This was 1982. When I got home, my sister was standing in the hallway with her arms folded in front of her. She took one look at me and said, You’re high, and then laughed quietly and went back in her room where the walls were covered in teen magazine poster pullouts. In another year, a car accident would take away this version of her. Sometimes I like to go back to this brief moment in the hallway. The two of us there, sharing what we both knew and would never know. I could write an essay about that look she gave me. What it meant. That sounds right. What it still means.  


Jon Pineda’s memoir, Sleep in Me, is a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” 2010 Holiday Selection. He is the author of the poetry collections The Translator’s Diary, winner of the Green Rose Prize, and Birthmark, winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition.