POEM: “8 Foot Notes from a Dancer’s Diary”

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“8 Foot Notes from a Dancer’s Diary”

By Douglas John Imbrogno | 1985/2022

1.

Danced nearly till dawn at the Metro downtown Cincy O. And,
oh, the costumes! How the young and restless anoint themselves
with characterizations. So much black! Black sweat pants & tops.
Black dresses. A coat checker whose sexuality is vague wears a
homemade chador which covers his/her/their head.
A bartender in black leopard skin & blackish makeup smiles
with purple-jelly lipstick not out of place upon a frozen corpse.

2.

But, hey, ho, not everyone at the Metro’s dead-set on fashion.
Some dress up hip-casual to prance the night away. Got there
about 2 a.m., joining the throng, hipping-hopping, swaying,
stopping, tripping to the dancing songs. Used to feel put-out it
wasn’t easy meeting anyone to talk to, exchange names & ‘would you
like to ….’ But that’s not the point. The dancing itself a form of
speaking, the embrace, the telepathic look into the face.

3.

I make love to a half-dozen partners & see no more of their
verbalizing selves than a ‘pardon me!’ for an errant elbow.
On occasion, the accidental brush feels like a semi-conscious
caress. I stop trying to impress with my moves (except for the
infrequent solo), shifting into many grooves. Every which way,
swirl squads of dancers, the Asian boy & girl & Yankee pal, the
black-white couple disco sleeks, ooh-la-la! The gypsy boy …

4.

Here’s a lady with cornrows & undulating cheeks, now flanked by
a motorcycle moll with Bob Seger on her chest, now back turned
to the girl whose hair looks like a stack of robin’s nests.
Ah, sweet, the woman in the baggy silver sweater & pleated black
skirt, dances with her lover, hubby, date. Vibrations, primitive
radar. I don’t even look at you, nor you at me, except to snatch
a portrait of your profile, of your body’s contour.

5.

Of how we might embrace … We prance across the floor & close
the space. Until I see your back to me, those hips, an intoxicating
whiff of shampoo, the outline of your lips, an accidental touch,
matched rhythms, yes, our bodies talking on a wavelength our
minds cannot access … Don’t overdo it, the bodies may be taken,
but the mind is free to stalk of passion’s fantasy. You lift one arm
into the air, ruffle that chestnut page-boy hair.

6.

I am transported into inner space, we’re in a room & you’re
wriggling out that sweater, the skirt’s a black hole upon the floor.
And, oh, I know our middles mingle with insistent force.
The real thing might not be better & with this manner of relation
there’s no remorse. We slide apart, I swear you’ve taken a
patch of my heart. But this duet was not just an expression
of our bodies’ abstract art …

7.

Now, you’re a dozen feet away, your husband-lover-date
has restaked your personal space. You look as if you’re tugging
on a ring or deliberating, ‘Should I take this off?’ Or just
fantasy’s extension into the room. Our eyes can’t help but
scan the room as if in random search … And then, boom!
For one long second, I dive into that hazel pool, your eyes.
What joy to look at you and not wear a disguise!

8.

These decades later, whose glance was seeing whom?
The male gaze and all that, across rooms, across the centuries.
Or our own willed needs & deceptions. Yet, in the other
instance, maybe the dance was just a dance, and all the
better for it being no more than that intimacy. The yearning across
rooms, across centuries, for evasions from all this doom.
I salute you, across the years, for some moments minus any tears.


~ Journal entry 1985/ adapted 2022 | ADDITIONAL CREDITS: Disco ball photograph by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

POSTSCRIPT: An old journal entry poem from more than 35 years gone, capturing another era, another me, addendumed with a contemporary quatrain. I am not quite that guy, but he is quite part of me. Hence, something for the historical record of my/our being out in the world, trying to connect and figure it — and ourselves and the other dancers in the room — out.


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