Streets for Two Dancers

by Robert Gibbons

Time on Devonshire

March sunrise, yellow sea, yellow light flooding past Rowe's Wharf, thoroughly, washing up High Street. Extra time to stop on Devonshire to read the names engraved on stone shields of protectresses: "Security" & "Fidelity." Two dames whose make-up has changed, top to bottom.

Heated Discussion

Down the bowel stairs of the State Street subway station on Presidents' Day finds two people in a heated discussion. Amid her tale of woe she groans, "Grozny, Grozny!" Russians exercising freedom of speech on a political topic, in public, a right the rest of us on the platform take for granted. Pictures out of Chechnya: rebels huddled, detained in a ditch dug by a backhoe for the occasion, make this tunnel seem far from the depths of Hell.

It's Obvious

Across the room of the dream the guy in anger, whiskey bottle in hand, dropped his vicious stare, momentarily, then sat down next to me. “It’s obvious,” he complained, “that you are protected by women & books.”

Even Before the Music Begins

Sweet dream, if only a bit far-fetched. I'm across the street near a fence, when I hear someone urging Coltrane to, "Go faster than the turntable." It's Eric Dolphy leading Trane out of the city architecture on the other side of the street toward the studio. I follow. A young neighborhood kid has created a sound studio in his apartment. People are piling in for the session. Under 18 kept from entering. I'm seventeen, which means its 1963, the last year they played together. I wait in line outside the open door. Young women inside sway rhythmically, bop heads forward, even before the music begins. I wake up with a smile, & horn on.

Great Vehicle Body

Great vehicle body, unmatched by Lamborghini, French TGV, Cunard, NASA. Seal on the ice floe just beyond Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor.

Am I Ever More Ecstatic?

"...there's a street like 'Lyric Energy'...”
                                        --Max Jacob

Am I ever more ecstatic than imagining the walk from Boulevard Raspail to Rue du Vieux Colombier with the awkward spires of St. Sulpice coming into focus, overhearing Walter Benjamin overhearing Adrienne Monnier, in 1930, talking with Leon-Paul Fargue regarding the incomparable nature of the neighborhood, & knowing Man Ray's experimental film, Emak Bakia, premiered on this street in 1926 before an audience of fifty people, Django on the sound track, as if in the back row, fingering the guitar lesson?

Here, There

Under a grey autumn sky two French girls sulk over their cell phones. Mid-morning, & they're already bored. One's finishing up a salad, the other's made four calls in ten minutes. I know their nationality because before they leave they'll pass by screeching, "Ici, ici!" within earshot. Now, it's fluent body language. I can long all day for Paris where boredom is out of the question. These two remind me of St. Sulpice. More than a hundred years into construction a new architect tacked on a facade with almost neo-classical severity. As they pout around cigarettes I think of the two towers which to this day remain unfinished. In fact, I'm starting to doubt whether the best aspects of these two girls could add up to one true woman.

Toward the Edge

Driving toward the edge of sleep the phrase, "Field of articulation..." washes up to consciousness. A photographic image along the lines of Man Ray, or a mirrored Kertesz distortion with the thought, "Energy of the lens." That's it: the immediate, momentary energy of the lens.

Man Ray's La Priere

Such complete supplication, head bent to the floor, hands above the bodily mosque, is bound to bring about desired results.


                for Rohan Nunes

There are precedents for what you do, carrying gifts of coffee & breadfruit out of Jamaica, following that star to more northern climes. I stood under the sun at Solstice thinking of you up in Stockholm for the midnight sun on your twenty-first birthday. I imagined you one of the Magi kings. Dig this, Rohan! In 1960 Miles & Coltrane played in that Scandinavian capital. For some jazz fans, perhaps, the first Black men they ever saw. They played "All Blues" that night, for you.

©2002 by Robert Gibbons

Robert Gibbons has work currently online in: The Drunken Boat, Evergreen Review, Frank , Gargoyle, Janus Head, Linnaean Street, pith, Recursive Angel, and Tragos. His third chapbook of prose poems, This Vanishing Architecture, has just been published by Innerer Klang Press, Charlestown, MA.

Read an interview with Robert in this issue.

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