a (complicated) dance

one (small) step forward balances
two sideways or a leap back.
progress is a (complicated) dance
without a rigid routine —
don’t care how you get there,
just remember that you did.

Throwback Thursday: sibs before a ballet recital

Dragging Raf to my ballet recital. 1993.

Dragging Raf to my ballet recital. 1993.

A lack of rhythm

Swaying slowly & off-beat
I twirl around & you dip me,
laughing because neither of us
has a natural sense of rhythm,
in spite of myths claiming we should
because of the colors of our skin.

Pretend you belong

Drink whiskey until a haze
glides over your body.
Spin as house music stomps on
whisper-shouts exchanged.
Numb the loneliness
that suffocates in a sea of people.
Pretend you belong in
this perfectly artificial town.
Ignore the way its inhabitants
expertly engineer interest.
Get discarded when you’re deemed useless
in an endless quest to make it.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of twerking.”

“Miley’s dad must be real proud of her.” Mike laughed as he walked into his office, the one opposite mine.

“Mike, you watched the VMAs last night?!”

Mike is another one of my older white coworkers. Unlike Old Jim, he’s not clueless — he was a hippie during the Woodstock era and asks me about musicians featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. We share stories about the best shows we’ve seen; his was Pink Floyd at Berkeley, but I haven’t been to enough to pick a favorite yet. The last thing he would ever watch is MTV, much less the VMAs.

“Nah, CNN was showing a clip on the TV when I grabbed coffee at the café.”

“Ugh, Miley is a train wreck!”

“I was wondering what kinda sick porno they were showing — I just about fell down the stairs!”

“She always says she’s twerking, but that’s not what her dancing is.”

“This is the first time I’ve heard of twerking. Is it a dance style like the Harlem Shake?”

“Yeah, the styles aren’t similar, but it is a dance style like the real Harlem Shake.”

“I take it those costumed weirdos randomly flailing in the YouTube videos weren’t doing the real one.”

“Exactly.” I paused. “If you want to see real twerking, then we should watch one of Big Freedia’s videos.”

Mike gestured to his computer. I found Big Freedia’s video for “Y’all Get Back Now” on YouTube and hit play. Mike watched curiously.

“Big Freedia is a rather big woman — buff, I mean.”

“She’s a drag queen. Her show at Terminal West was epic.”

“These folks dancing behind her –”

“Her twerk team.”

“Women and men — their moves are amazing!”

“Whatever Miley was doing doesn’t resemble this at all.”

“Why does a skinny white girl make a fool of herself trying to imitate the twerk team members?!”

“I ask myself that every time I read stories about Juicy J or other rappers putting her onstage.”

“She’s gotta know they’re laughing at her, not with her.” Mike chuckled, “Thanks for the education, Sam. We should show Big Freedia’s video to Old Jim after lunch. He’d appreciate this, for sure.”

“I don’t know what good it’ll do. He still thinks dubstep is a dance, not a genre of music.”