ROCKPILE on the road / 9

David Meltzer

The Red Shoes

And I woke up dancing
out of bed past kids crying in clusters
mine hers anybody else's
piled up writhing howling
steamy cracked windows
stink of ancient diapers sour milk
cartoon rat whiskers crushed Raggedy
broken Fisher-Price homes
uncoiled rabbits Legos Tonka trucks
Pacific mold on windowsills
crowing black green alphabet dots
burst to spread and mark monk-white
walls crazed with Crayola faces
And I danced down the hallway leapt over the dogs
and cats hunting each other for food
who turned to attack me like a corps de ballet
but I was dancing and I'd never danced before
music from all the radios propelled me
Into and out of rooms where my lives erased
and I leapt into space free of sorrow or thought or art
And she pleaded with me to take her
But I said no it wouldn't work
I dance alone the radios are behind me
And she said will you leave me with the kids the rooms the TV
broken down kitchen nothing works
muggers robbers raiders
clawing at doors windows
snipers vipers pirates
oozing through old keyholes
gurus prophets healers Jehovah's Witnesses
fisting the frontdoor into a tissue
Yes yes I yelled dancing past her down the hall
Yes yes the radios behind me and before me
Music more conclusive than the sun
And I dance down Russian Hill into North Beach
old nicotine ivory Italian gentlemen
young Italian silk misogyny
Beatnik survivors tubbed in jukebox coffins
drunk on history and hippie hold-out
New Age hobos piss at the world passing by
bent over double in doorway zoos
And I dance past Broadway's whores
tattered bare butt blushing with belt welts
ravaged vagina overlit hand-held camera
porno filmhouse aisles I dance down
break moviedreamer meditation
breaking through tough screen
leap a Nijinsky onto a rope
sandbag through iron exit door into day
Dance into City Lights microcosm feudal culture
Everyone's a poet but I dance
Everyone's an editor but I dance
Everybody has a book nobody reads and I dance
down an alley into Chinatown
attacked by teenage Bruce Lee mafia
karate and .38s
but I leap higher than Confucius
who didn't dance from his hut his palace
his systems of etiquette
I dance to the city radio
chien shanai cymbal dragon smash
traffic cardiogram
chopped-off chickenheads
trout scales scraped away
crushed boiled crabshell crunch
ladle day-old pork barbecue
from stainless steel trays
into takeout cardboard cartons
white porcelain Kwan Yin cracks apart
falls on marble Bank of Canton floor
cameras on tourists like goiters
Everyone's amazed when I dance over dim-sum trays
in black acrobat slippers
I need no food I'm fueled by dance
Radios are in front and back
they're in my ears
my mouth is a radio
everything I see and hear is music
everything I say
everything is music I dance to
Dance to a mad speed-babbler's rap
tapping like crazy
Honey Coles hold your hat
Fred watch out
better believe it Bubbles
And no trace of sweat
And no thought and no art and true to each
second my body moves over the fallen
and the arising


David Meltzer performs The Red Shoes
with Blodie and members of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band in New Orleans.

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