Geoffrey Brock
The truckers, college boys, and paraplegics
suck on their cokes and smoke like prisoners
by the small stage, where naked women dance.

A life-size blue and orange hummingbird
flits inches from my face on the tanned ass
of a blonde dancer, who (as if it were

a real mosquito) slaps it, turns around,
and giggles, "It's okay to smile, you know."
I smile. The paraplegic next to me

drags brightly on a cigarette that's clipped
to a dead hand. His trembling good hand thrusts
a bill at me: "I can't quite reach --- you mind?"

Hummingbird pauses, poised above the blooms
of cash that ring the thigh below its reach.
Pulling her garter back, I slide in two bills

as the song ends. She slumps a little, turns
and smiles. "You know about our private dances?"
As if I haven't seen the row of rooms

walled with translucent Plexiglas, or stared,
enthralled, at their refracting shadows. "No,"
I say, "I don't," so she begins explaining

as a nice waitress would the soup du jour.
Just then the paraplegic's beeper chirps.
"Wife's here," he whispers, as he puts his chair

into reverse. I follow in his wake,
and in the dark lot watch as a glowing van
extends its metal arms to take him in.

--- ©2001, New Letters

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