the first thing he asked
any girl 
"what's your favorite record?"
and if she couldn't name one
they were done
he only understood love
for himself
in the way
most people love
their favorite album

he needed to be loved
for his brilliance
near perfection
and near flawlessness
once you start 
acknowledging flaws
there's always
a new
favorite album
stacked in some dusty bin
just waiting
for a spin
ready to capture
a gullible audiophile's
lifelong affection 
undying attention

so he promoted himself
as a brilliant record
up there with
What's Going On
to the dismay of most
he was more B-side
than A
though he argued
he was far more
the brilliant artist 
that united the songs
than the hooks and melodies and riffs
that divided
the better and worse sides
of the 45

a master of spin
the pops
and skips
from his worn-out vinyl
the musty odor 
of the cardboard
the soft
bent corners
and worn edges
of his sleeve
proof of something
some set of virtues
better than any 
wrapped in cellophane
and justifiably
of far less value
than the collectible
original press
from 1971

i used to imagine
his pretense and delusion
were mostly ego
but now
i understand
it was less ego
than fear and insecurity
if perceived
as less than brilliant
as anything less
than another's 
most adored record
there was always reason
for him to end up
in the thrift store bin
or a box at the flea market
forgotten and replaced
with another cherished record
just because
of one
mediocre song

so he held tight
force-feeding himself
and us
what he needed to be
cause really
the only difference
between Pink Moon
and Dark Side
is a matter
of taste
which is a much weaker
for choice
than morals

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