The silence between songs can’t be modulated by anything other than held
breath. You have to sit and wait, time the release of the pause button to the
last tenth of a second so that the gap between each track is a smooth purr, a
TDK or Memorex your masterwork. Don’t talk to me about your MP3 player,
how, given the limitless choice, you hardly ever listen to one song for more
than two minutes at a time. Do you know about stealing double As from the
TV remote so you can listen to last night’s clandestine effort on the walk to
school? You say you love music. Have you suffered the loss of a cassette so
gnarled by a tape deck’s teeth it refuses to play the beat you’ve come to recog-
nise by sound and not name? Have you carried that theme in your head these
years in the faint hope you might know it when it finds you, in a far-flung
café, as you stand to pay, frozen, and the barista has to ask if you’re okay?

From ‘Kumukanda’ (Chatto & Windus, £10)

Kayo Chingonyi joins Sinéad Morrissey in judging this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. The closing date is July 31 and entry is free. See

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