TECH EFFECT Fifth Place: “The Way the Music Died” by Mike Lewis-Beck
Inspired by Brian Dettmer’s “Skull”

The Way the Music Died

shows in Dettmer’s Skull, crafted like a candy
Sugar Skull from the Mexican Day of the Dead
but made of melted cassette tapes

whose sweetness echoes only in the live songs
and dead singer they hold—Buddy Holly’s
love ballads and rockin’ guitar riffs

from a Gibson J-45 acoustic—
his go-to guitar, pure sound waves
washing over words

while rhythms just fade away
til the beat’s gone     til it’s a lonely season.
You say I got no feelin’♫

but I say
—I say—
it’s just a wave away.

Ride the waves, chase the sky.
Surf—the ballroom—
before Holly and his buddies fly

and die.       Crashland in a cornfield—
Buddy, Richie, The Bopper—
where a Steel Guitar marker reads 2-3-59.


What contest judge Stephen Gibson says: “This poem weaves the images of Dia de Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead, with Buddy Holly’s death and more. A fine, evocative imagistic work.

Mike Lewis-Beck writes and works in Iowa City.  He has pieces in Alexandria Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Big Windows Review, Cortland Review, Chariton ReviewGuesthouse Literary Journal, Pure Slush, Pilgrimage, Rootstalk, Seminary Ridge Review, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Writers’ Café and Wapsipinicon Almanac, among other venues.  His short story, “Delivery in Göteborg,” received a Finalist prize from Chariton Review, 2015.  His essay, “My Cherry Orchard in Iowa,” received recognition as one of the ‘Notable Essays’ in Best American Essays of 2011. He has a chapbook, Rural Routes (Alexandria Quarterly Press), forthcoming.