Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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The Varsouvienne

Nothing behind the yellowed ShopRite where the old lettuces
bleed their green through cardboard boxes or under the football field’s
scaffolded hierarchies of broken curfews in Carthage, Indiana,

nothing there where the Applebee’s and its chicken fingers
count as cultural capital would have led me to expect that when
dancing the varsouvienne, the instructor
placing my hand on your crinolined, black waist less than six

inches from your left nipple, the civilization of myself
would end, collapsed into a fiery Crock-Pot of steaming onions
and fish sauce, burning, waiting for you, me weeping
both over the burning, the onions, and you,

a kind of bouillabaisse of the usurped, the conquered,
and all lost histories: “Good God in Heaven!” the old Polish
mazurka goes, or something like that.
Who knew how the scent of crinoline on one’s fingers could shoot

one out of Indiana and into the Phoenician sea
where dwell the piratical fish, deep green seaweed harboring
impossible bubbles like takeout containers of honey mustard sauce?
“You disgust me,” you said, quoting Williams,

and I remembered A Streetcar Named Desire was not
what I would ride on my way to meet you, maybe a scratched
and wheezy motorbike of desire. I am my worst touchstones, I realize.
The varsouvienne is, by itself, not a reason to die.    

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