June 28, 2010

Ed Galing

DANCING

         it was a marathon,
and we did it right off
Broadway in New York, back
when apples were sold on
street corners by haggard
looking men who never shaved
anymore, standing on street
corners, the lines were long
back then, waitin for a free
turkey from the salvation army
for thanksgiving,
         people were
flyin upside down from airplanes,
and there was a guy called Shipwreck
Kelley sittin on a flagpole, way
up, for weeks, rain or shine,
just to see how long he could
stay up there, hopin to make a
buck that way,
         my girl and I got into the
dance marathon…
         picture a rickety hall, with
fifty young people like us,
dancing day and night, holdin on to
each other till we dropped, hell,
this went on day and night, and
the winner would get a few hundred
bucks, while the sister promoters
made the most of it, and the
loud music comin from a jukebox,
day and night, around and around we
went, and pathe news showed us on
the screen, and walter winchell
wrote us up, and nobody really
gave a shit about any of this,
seeing how everybody was crazy in
them days anyway,
         on the fifth day of dancing
most of the contestants had dropped
out, the meat wagon took em away,
imagin women hangin on to their
boyfriends, around the neck, while
the boyfriend dragged his partner
around and around like a bunch of
damn zombies.
   there was a fifteen minute break
so we could do what we had to do,
goin around the room, foxtrot,
waltz, mostly, and we all had
these big damn numbers on our
backs,
         near the end, before my girl
and I dropped out, my feet were
swollen the size of an elephant’s,
and my partner looked like she
was gonna faint any minute,
         like she was gonna die right
then and there, hell, i was draggin
her around like a dust mop,
         at the end of this dance
marathon the cops finally came
around and closed the whole damn
thing up…the mayor said it was
inhuman for people to dance like
this, just to see who could last
longer,
         we got nuthin for our dancing
and it wasn’t very pretty,
   we broke up after that,
and I joined the navy, figurin
let the government take care of
me, and I would look good in a
sailor suit,
         and last I heard, my partner
was workin in a night club somewhere,
tryin to make out as a singer
         and the place where we danced
was sold at an auction and it’s bare
and quiet now there, and the world
keeps on goin around and around.
         and this is where I get off.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009

Read by Alan