The Nightclub by John Davis

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 He lives on an island in the Salish Sea.

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