portion of the artwork for Adam Falkner's poetry
Jazz on Rue de la Huchette
Adam Falkner

Tonight, somewhere in the Left Bank of Paris,
a cave beneath the street is a stampede of human
hooves. Swinging, twirling, cotton-club-finger-wagging,
they clap the hardwood until it groans like a music
that knows its own name. And you, the lonely American,
desperate (again) to prove not cotton-stuffed,
not rapper chain medallion, not gun holster buffoon
of the world, finally hear something that makes your heart
backflip with pride: Charlie Parker snaps through
a set of ancient speakers. Bodies swarm
the bedroom-sized dance floor like a hive.
They twist and kick and spin like perfect Fred Astaire
wind-up toys. You think only of smoky closet lounges
on 125th and Lenox, how “yours” the way
their bodies fling themselves across this dance floor
actually is—yet there is something different here.
The feeling is not what it should be. You should be
the first to the floor, first to let your grinning, flailing limbs
shout Yes! But instead, you laugh, pretzel your cement
sack legs around the metal stool beneath you, turn
toward the bar for another drink. Somehow, you are
on the outside. This is the only thing that has made you
proud of your home in days—and it doesn’t even remember
the sound of your name in its mouth.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 36 | Spring 2012