New Jersey Blood


I.
The first bedlam-laden Free School show:
I caught Jeremy doing his madcap routine,
ribbing audience to leave. I didn't understand
then who Jeremy was, where he came from
(South Jersey), & why he worked, consciously,
to stay (& remain) small. The Highwire shows
were too high for his strident, unsorted softness.
Abandoned inhibitions rose up to high ceilings;
New Jersey squirmed, itchy for its children;
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 red-head from
Jersey, heaved against me. Tara shouldered
suburban Jersey around with her like a sprained
ankle; tall tales of potential husbands, other
familial engagements. 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."