“This must be what Disco was like
when it went bad and people died
and they made all those movies.
The music is ugly and the people are loud.”
Earlier, I had pals and a girl but lost them all
between the door and the bar—
a dark forest of hipsters in black and red,
a strobe-light moon, full and then new
and then full again, as if whole months
of nights passed on the dance floor.
When I finally found Ricky, a witch
with a nosebleed had cornered him
so tight she broke his ribs.
When I pulled her off, she hissed
and blew away like the smoke
off my cigarette. Ricky just shrugged
and drank from one green bottle
then one brown, and it seemed to fix his chest.
My girl’s ex spun records,
crammed beats behind everything—their old love
songs, car crashes, Britney Spears—and I felt
threatened. My ex was there too, of course,
eyeing me over the shoulder of some ghoul,
an old friend, who was strangling her
hips with his huge hands.
Then the lights flashed on like a long x-ray.
I saw Ricky’s still-cracked ribs, my girl’s
true feelings, the stains on my own pants,
the back-beat zombies sipping
formaldehyde with lime.
The bartender who I thought was flirting all night
screamed at me to leave.
Now out on the street, kids slick with sweat
stream out as if the club had sneezed.
The taxis attack and the homeless
hold their palms up to the crowd in a half-shrug,
hearing in our pockets the detritus of a night
of hard drinking: hundreds of quarters,
dead weight, sinkers baiting scum
as we drop down into subways, the ruck