Lap Dance

 

I think everyone’s glad I’m dead, said the stripper

with the caved-in face. Her fingers were bone with no

sinew. She flapped her arms at the two wrens

caught up in the rafters and staring down

on the empty dance hall at the Möbius Strip Club

of Grief. Tiny chirps rained like sparks

from the electric saws in their little hearts. No one here

is glad anyone is dead, but

there is a certain comfort in knowing

the dead can entertain us, if we wish. We line up

outside looking drowned, telling whoever comes

our way that we are falling very fast. And

we are fine. The dead are wrinkled as jet streams

cutting across the room with glasses on their

heads, laxatives under their tongues—they

keep the air cold inside, so one can smell their breath.

Their hair is still growing, crackling out of their skulls—

and we file in, in ones and twos, clinging

to our tragedies, finding our favorite face—

which looks back at us with indifference, contempt,

chill disappointment. You never came much 

when I was alive, says one with red hair, lying

on her side like a Botticelli on the stage,

and now you want a piece? $20 for five minutes;

I’ll hold your hand in my own. I’ll tell you

you were good to me.

Bianca Stone, a poet and visual artist, is the author of Poetry Comics from the Book of Hours (LSU Press, 2016) and Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Tin House, 2014), and she was artist/collaborator on a special illustrated edition of Anne Carson’s Antigonick (New Directions, 2015). She runs the Ruth Stone Foundation and Monk Books with her husband, the poet Ben Pease, in Vermont and Brooklyn.