By Fred Dale

Fifteen and dumb, you go where you can.
 
We filed in close to each other, toe to heel,
a Chinese parade dragon with its costume
stripped away
                      and sat down like we knew
what we were doing with barstools, daring
drunks, oil rig roughnecks out for some-
thing to see and taste.
                                   She told us if we
wanted her to dance, we’d have to put our
money in the jukebox.
                                    What is to be done
with such a proposal when you can’t even
handle (adequately) the crisis of pimples?

Tasked with choosing, on the spot, a little
something for the lady to dance to, a song
for seduction, a tune that would add flesh
where we’d not known it before,
                                                     I did not
consider any of this when I urged the letter
and number of the song I simply wanted to
hear in that interval.
                                 And when “Stairway
to Heaven’ began, those wistful first notes
we knew utterly with our hearts, we were
happy.
           I’d like to say she didn’t dismount
stage right, dangerous in her shiny pumps,
shoes destined to fall into fashion for news
women, everywhere, and pull the plug on
Led Zeppelin.
                       I’d like to say I stood thru
smoke and looked the patron men and that
woman in the face and told them the two
fingers that held the coins to the jukebox,
were the same two fingers priests used to
deliver their kind of truth.
                                          They’re talking
salvation, and I, respite–how eventually,
in each new-spun song, there’s a moment,
something to dance to.