THE RECORD SCRATCH December 1, 2023

My First 45

John Williams’s theme from Star Wars purchased in the tiny

record shop next to the Little Caesars pizzeria, at the strip mall

with our town’s lone Chinese restaurant, House of Wong.

Every dish, Americanized: Sweet and Sour, Lemon, Almond, Orange.

No duck or chicken feet to tantalize my parents’ recent immigrant palates.

The Lone Ranger & Tonto belonged to an earlier generation.

We were lightsaber, TIE fighter boys conquering other worlds.

The moon, already ours. President Reagan’s Star Wars and evil

empires, not yet history. In the movie Star Wars, species,

not races, defined light and dark, good and evil. (Lando Calrissian

appeared later.) If the teenage store clerk had refused to sell me

that 45, I would have felt the force of good and evil sooner,

understood why House of Wong was tucked in the back, away

from the street. This isn’t nostalgia, merely a chronicle, when boys

dreamed of galaxies far, far away, and violence, merely play.

Johnson Cheu’s poetry most recently appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Exposition Review, and Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day, among others. He is also the editor of three scholarly film collections on Disney, Tim Burton, and Robin Williams. After a couple computer crashes, he still buys CDs occasionally, though the vinyl records from his childhood are forever lost to long-ago garage sales.