New Jersey Blood


I.
The first bedlam-infested Free School show:
I caught Jeremy doing his reconnaissance routine,
ribbing audience to leave. I didn’t realize
then who Jeremy was, where he came from
(South Jersey), & why he worked, in Philly,
to stay (& remain) small. The Highwire shows
were too high for his, & Jersey’s, leveled lowliness;
who had no recourse but to (hostilely) spy on us.
New Jersey squirmed, itchy for its Philly;
Jeremy slunk back, wine in hand, began snapping
pictures again. As he knelt to get a special
angle on Mike Land, who stood reading at
the podium, I remembered Avalon as a teenager,
New Jersey at midnight— waves into emptiness.
 
II.
The dirge droned over the dimly lit dance
floor, “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before,”
& Tara, a bowl-headed Jersey redhead, heaved
against me. Suburban Jersey slowed her pace
like a sprained ankle; tall tales, excuses abounded
of potential husbands, other elaborate entanglements,
making it dodgy to take her too seriously.
She sought ins with us; we always said yes;
yet we bled something out of her style & self-possession.
Mike Land, who (oddly) was no dancer, drank
our grungy group under the table, in a short-lived joint
off of Rittenhouse Square— Tara made 
a gesture to her girlfriend to step outside. “It’s
a conspiracy;” I kidded Mike, “bring on the shots.”