He Is Not a Dancer

It occurs to him

A block of years,

A reversal of knowing

In the blood.

He must not dance,

But write (He moves; the

Letters fly along his limbs).

If you must know,

Zoom back, until

This jungle is a dot.

Ogle again the factoid


He and compatriots

Share a country.

The common step

is called the “Vietnam”

From a place where

Dance steps tell

The names of wars.

There’s quick knowing like a bolt,

Passed in millisecond’s

Sidelong glance

From eye to eye.  Both

Expatriates, they’d heard it,

War’s drumbeat, a shocking funk,

A cardiogram, a telegraph

Of dead.  Exploding bombs

Warp and injur everything.

War’s no analog for dance.

(A bad patch twisted his spine.

The column of bones

Torqued and knotted blood,

Stopped mobility

Of plexuses, making hard

The muscle.  He learns

Of softness; that thing

Permits a tear. Yes, Your Diaphragm,

The King of Everything.

Do not keep your cry.

Keep soft in your ribs

Or you will die.

With time to kill

He takes a trip.  Far away,

In a rented room, a friend

Gives Oxy –

Crushed to rubble

Blown off tables,

A powder in the vein –

Coursing through

The same old trick,

The same town, same

Room regardless of which dot

“Bratislava” or “Potsdam”

Pocks the map.)  Once he’s

Back, worlds flood in;

His teacher’s predilections

Shoot like liquid down

A funnel; make that cistern

Basin head a stained

Enamel, ugly sight

Which brings him here

(You know the climax comes

When he appears,

Hunkered at the sink, at one hour ten,

Splashing water on his face,

To slow the nerves. It’s the way

Hollywood tells us

The protagonist

Is cracking).

Now, full stop, I say it:

Today he learned himself again.

Barely recovered,

He ducked into the toilet, read

The wall where piss poets

Speak, and everything was shown:

That porcelain, still enclosed

By old-style wood, backstopped by tile,

Made him think: How

Could a plumber know himself

Before the day, the pipes in place,

He re-builds the cabinet,

Unconsciously a carpenter

As if the long-forgotten,

Rudimentary seal

Of planks had surfaced

From his unlead life

Like the name of

A cousin he forgot.

(A Footnote:  Jason Jacobs, an American dancer, gave professional training for Staatstheater Darmstadt in Germany during the 2011-2012 season.  Jacobs performed as a member of  the dance company of Hofesh Shechter, a prominent contemporary Israeli choreographer.  Shechter’s work, presumably, is the origin of  the locution “Vietnam” for a traveling step which allows dancers to move across the floor very quickly while remaining close to ground level.  Jacobs, an exponent of Shechter’s style, gave this step during the training in Darmstadt.)

(A Back Door:  Enter I Crawl in Reverse into the search bar.)


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