18th Street, and you’re
more than a decade away,
maybe dancing at Red Rocks or
in a juke joint, while I’m
tying my hair up in a ponytail
on 18th Street.
Sweat licks my ears
while I sand down the long black bench
on the third floor, scrape off
years of shuttered doors and
stolen gargoyles and
the Lyric running softcore
across the street.
I work my way down the rail slowly,
towards the ladies’ in the basement, where
I’ll stick my finger in the old chandelier
while changing a bulb and my
fillings will jump and tingle—
rubbing the polish into the brass, just like
legions of boys did before me.
I run up staircases in the dark.
I get good enough to do it
with my eyes closed, shutting out
what little light there was, my
blue suede Converse rustling
on cabernet carpet.
I carry M*A*S*H to the
projection booth and the thin hard
metal of the handles on the reels
cuts into my palms.
Meanwhile you are dancing to the Dead
and I am on 18th Street, sewing
buttons on costumes for the Wizard of Oz
and flirting with costume designers.
Alan is in black jeans, just like the song
and one day we crack open a cash register
“rescued” from Loveman’s
but there were no Mercury dimes, no
On Saturdays I gather up the trash
and sling my bike out of the back of
the Camino, and ride through the
deserted downtown. I sand the black
bench on the third floor and listen
to the squeak and whirl of my
thrift-store cassette of Boys Don’t Cry.
Maybe you were staring at the River
while I was running up staircases in the
dark on 18th Street,
there was just me, Mount Rushmore
might as well be on Mars, and
There was never a ghost, that was
just me running up the staircases,
echoing down through the years,
just like the graffiti in the men’s
(Spike in ’47, Butch in ’63,
and me in ’95), it was me
that sat down next to her
on the mezzanine, Adam’s Rib
flickering in the dark.