The closer the train inches
toward the city, its passengers
become more morose, not
to mention whiter and
beardier. They begin speaking
to each other in nose-pick,
chin-scratch code. I’M SAD,
one mewls, tugging on
his coarse goatee. THIS WORLD
IS BENEATH ME, another bemoans,
right pinky up his nostril. Soon
the cities will engulf our outdated public
transit systems and there won’t be anywhere
else to go. No constellations but
entire countries for young men,
wilting with resentment yet they know
how to sprawl. Toothpicks
brandished between veneers and
drinking by the pint, they advertise
themselves to the locals.
If the high five is
a coy flirtation vehicle
then the fist bump is
a knuckled deluge
of eros, callused swells
of skin seeking brief,
The chest bump is
supernova of mesh
and sweat mingling
momentarily like sand
with surging tides.
Consider each bro
conductor of his own
beer pong tournament.
With every emptied
plastic cup, a yet more
powerful movement begins.
We do the T-shirt over long sleeves dance.
We do the awkwardly inserted tampon dance.
We do the two frightened alligators dance.
We do the Deborah’s bar mitzvah line dance.
We do the grind each other to sleep dance.
We do the Roger Rabbit, a modern classic.
We do the performative object dance.
We ask a crop-topped girl: For whom do you
dance? I dance for my father, she says, who ruled
this gray and magenta kingdom. I honor the fossilized
cassette tapes in his worn coat pockets. I dance
for my country, milk-white and tired. I hike up
my acid-washed jean skorts, grab a young man
by the neck, and do the devil’s busy work.
Nicole Steinberg is the author of Getting Lucky (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2013) and two chapbooks available in 2014: Undressing from dancing girl press and Clever Little Gang, winner of the Furniture Press 4X4 Chapbook Award. Her other publications include Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms with Queens (SUNY Press, 2011) and Birds of Tokyo (dancing girl press, 2011). She's the founder of the EARSHOT reading series, based in Brooklyn, NY, and she lives in Philadelphia.
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