2011 Writing Contest: Be the Change You Want to See

First Place Creative Writing

The Hidden Benefit of Music

Alex Kunkel, Aurora High School, Aurora, OH (Teacher: Jenna Schadle)

Talent was a gift to me; something I did not perceive
A small factor received naturally, nothing from myself
In the lower-middle class I strived to achieve
I did not understand each time I took it off the shelf

I banged, scratched it, played it, nicked it
I had no remorse in picking it up
I tried not to be enraged when my little brother kicked it
I moved slowly to take a drink from the cup

The guitar was a "small" gift years ago
An item in a diverse market I had been given
I thought it was just a toy, a game, a show
But soon uncovered there was more that hid below

A man in a third-world country welded the knobs
The volume, treble, and bass
As he worked through sweatshop jobs
Deeply rooted to the work shown by the sweat on his face

As this happened an American pressed a button
And machines carved out a solid wooden body
Another nearby had a freeboard's wood cutting
Near down the line someone painted the oddity

As soon as the retailer caught word of the model
He made sure to buy the shipment
Mark up the price; more than twaddle
As he placed it with the rest of the guitar equipment

He sold it for profit, he had mouths to feed
He put on the sales pitch, but not with much greed
But before he shut down the day's operations
And flicked the light switch

Who to come in, but my father and me
I had no idea, the benefits ringing from this store
Little did I know then that I desired freely
To return to it more and more

But my dad walked to the counter
Cashed his week's wages
He worked as a publisher,
He paid others to fill pages

Looked at me, and then to the man with a grin
Said quickly, "My son has a birthday"
I soon shot up my chin
"And I think music is his way

So here's $800, direct him well
He can pick a guitar off that wall
One that is swell
Happy birthday, son, it was this or a new football"

I smiled and cheered
And the salesman did too
He directed me to one that was fairly new
It glared off of my polished shoe

From that day forward
The guitar was inseparable from me
I did not leave it alone long
And kept it near so I could see

Little did I know that I had a gift
I played my heart out
As my soul experienced a lift
A well-spent expense, no doubt

I then moved forward to teach my brother
As word moved fast
I taught another and another
Soon thousands of lessons had passed

Numerous could play now
Because of me
I could have charged much but I made a vow
That everything I gave was free

After a year I bought a small shop
Filled it with musical instruments and all
Submersed in music, I could not stop
I had no room to fall

Soon a dad with his son came in
He thought he was only receiving a new toy
He had no idea what, on this day, he would win
Something common in music, it was simply joy