The Reagan Era

It was superb, the song. It was superb.

Half-awake, coming to half-terms

with the tiny room cut in half

by the presence of the possessions

of my roommate gone for the weekend,

the rain done, the year, 1982,

beginning to fall, I brimmed over

with how I didn’t know to what extent

the air shaft behind my head and outside

our one window was physical.

I was with the small but tiny

building on 112th and Broadway,

inside it, just as without question,

or with certainty, I was inside

my freshman year of college in

New York City, by my side, alone

on a Sunday morning after a late night

with friends, an overripe Saturday

involving fermented laughter and

varying liquids involving more

than the need to end thirst. And

I didn’t know if the building’s missing

wide spine consisted of air or

of a woman’s throat, the two ends

of an Adam’s apple suspended

in an arc over a smooth surface.

Privileged and hungry for unseen,

universal riches swinging low

over wages and charity

and a chariot (wrong song), was I

half-dreaming? To what extent?

Was I reverting back to dreaming

of waking to a world with its inside

scooped out so that half of its windows,

the lucky ones nestled away

from the streets, could breathe, though closed?

The one behind my head, I realized

or fantasized, was open all the way,

given the late September heat,

and a dead woman (I called her

“Judy,” which was her exact name)

with a “Garland” of flowery, leafy,

precise softness at the top of her lungs,

was singing, going on and “Over”

about “the Rainbow” like a drunken child

wreathed with brain stems and freed cells.

It was superb. I was awake now,

to the music and the prank, no doubt

someone a few floors down half-dangling

a speaker, like an air-conditioner,

out his window, laughing and blasting

sleepers from their slumbers

at such an ungodly hour, the music

and not the prank reverberating

and exploding like an immense,

contained throat. It was superb,

with just Judy hovering above

the source in a disembodied building,

an immense, upside-down glass of rain

with no ceiling or floor, her lit throat

whispering like a roar around my ears

and inner lids, having broken through the airy

glass behind my head, her lit throat arriving

too early to be wrong, given

the sun’s multibright wish to never awaken

without chord changes and milked and nursed

syllables, the perfect world an upside-

down smile nuzzling the brutal streets,

tenderly belting out flesh and money,

deprivation, sleep, and the dream

that years later, there would be

conscious and conscionable peace

at last, if not where I would be,

then somewhere.

 

2008

 

*

Since 1987, Douglas Nordfors has been publishing poems in journals such as The Iowa Review, Quarterly West, and Poet Lore, and recent work has appeared in Burnside Review, Agave, OccuPoetry, Tipton Poetry Journal, and others. He has published two books of poetry, Auras (2008), and The Fate Motif (2013).

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