For a few days now, I’ve had
pop songs stuck in my head.

For a wannabe hippie like me,
this is shameful.
Born and raised a music lover,

(I was born with songs stuck in my head
–I think this goes beyond earworms.)

I wake up every day, song dictating
my mood for the rest of the day–
until it changes: next track,
my mind on shuffle.

(I remember getting over a cold as a child
as ‘Smack That’ careered through my head
and feeling as if I would never get better.)

And I remember how we used to listen
to such awful music in your car,
mixtapes from your sister or the radio.

Then, I wished you’d played more of
your dad’s old Arab music tapes. But now,

I’m kind of glad you played so much pop
because pop doesn’t attach to anything.

And now, when I hear pop on the radio,

in a grocery store, or while getting my hair cut,
I don’t have to think of you.

Can you imagine what it would be like
if the Shop Rite played Arab music tapes?

When pop gets stuck in my head
and plays itself over and over like a greedy infant whine,

I can be more annoyed at the stupid lyrics,
more ashamed of the lack of chord changes,
more frustrated with the autotune,

than the thought of you.

More saddened by the song’s presence

than by the absence of you.