FNS: Deep Stimulation by Susana H. Case

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Every Friday night we will feature a short story, essay, personal narrative,
poem, spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.

Helen Presents: a poem from Susana H. Case


When electricity is pulsed to his brain,
a Dutch patient feels convulsed by a powerful
love for the music of—Johnny Cash,
whom he hears by accident on the radio,
“Ring of Fire,” the full, raw voice
singing Love is a burning thing, and then,

suddenly, the way so many affinities unfold,
nothing but Johnny Cash can make him feel
like he’s the vivid hero in the video of his life.
The doctors say he probably always had that
unknown potential, just needing the extra push
to buy the music, to play it over and over.

And, of course, being conditional, love lasts
only as long as the electrode batteries
which keep pinging his nucleus accumbens—
the part of him that processes pleasure
and laughter—with a crucial zap.
After, it’s back to The Rolling Stones.

I think we’ve all fallen into that ring of fire,
been disloyal even to Mick and Keith, waiting
for just the right voice, or for someone
content to just listen to the music,
who, for a moment, moves to the right beat,
the beat that vibrates now, inside the gray.


Susana H. Case’s newest book is 4 Rms w Vu (Mayapple Press). Author of four full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks, including The Scottish Café which was re-released in a Polish-English version, Kawiarnia Szkocka, by Opole University Press. She is a Professor at the New York Institute of Technology. http://iris.nyit.edu/~shcase/.

Her poem “Crazy for lovin’ you” will be published in our upcoming music issue. 

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