For the Zulu musicians it is late,
but the med students in New York Yankees T-shirts
are screaming for more music. Their skin, pale as x-rays,
glints in the nightclub. They’ve whiskeyed the night,
danced like victors in a tribal war or what they figure
victors dance like. They’ve shed their scrub uniforms
for one night—not to tango, but to get hammered,
to become numb as Sierra seedpods.
Among them, one Romeo who speaks
in a Quebec accent, is juking, jolting, writhing
like a papillary tumor if a papillary tumor could writhe.
He won’t land a lover tonight with an Oscar performance
as a November-nice guy. He’ll drink. At dawn he’ll lug to class
his stethoscope body, chug caffeine from Mike’s All Nite Coffee.
His face will be lima bean green.
Last summer he sold a kilo of dope to afford a van,
lived in Joliet, Illinois, memorized chemistry at night,
memorized the larvae of Indian Meal Moths.
His van was his hotel behind a Pizza Factory, and he woke
to the odor of rotten anchovies. At a golf club he caddied
for middle-aged women who wanted to foxtrot with his body.
He endured their echoes of Do you think I’m sexy?
In their beds he imagined the women’s delta cells and the hormones
released there as he rubbed their throbbing charley horses.
But tonight, bravo for him for passing a pulmonary exam. All this
dancing—better than alpha blockers he steals from the pharmacy.
John Davis is a polio survivor and the author of Gigs and The Reservist. His work has appeared recently in DMQ Review, Iron Horse Literary Review and Terrain.org. He lives on an island in the Salish Sea.