Even though I’m not really in a clique, today a kind of derivative promness
swirls about me, walking to McCarren Park, the sun liminal
in a cruel way, the promise of dancing sexy to Katy Perry
the promise of summer like a bowl of punch
people slurp from like true love. The promise of being crowned
Prom Queen which, strut as I might with a stretch
Hummer purpose, a Jergens Natural Glow, is only the ghost
of some euphoria I doubt I’ve ever had, or wanted to have,
but here it comes, the wanting. My tiara is not
the only tiara, I remind myself, smeyesing for the sky,
and so the sky barely notices. My Gaga is not
your Gaga, sure, but that just makes the walk feel
like an uncoupling.
The real Prom Queen, the sun, whose gaze high
school taught us not to meet, is shining on the jocks
playing football because all jocks are men and all men,
if asked, Meat, chicken, vegetarian,
know to choose meat. Know how to fill
up until they don’t.
I see some other spectators, too—
pretty wispy to be men—and we gather at a bench. We paint
our nails, put on glitter, arrange an after-party,
get up-dos, take group photos in the grass, pre-game,
talk about all the people we might kiss, and
then, suddenly, it grows dark—the Prom Queen receding
into the sky, where the lesser lights scatter, too.
Brooklyn slinks away to an after-party without us,
without me, I want to say, though maybe it’s time I shed
that binding separation.
Derrick suggests we all go to his house,
which at least has a pool and bottle of half-water-half-whiskey,
but Derrick isn’t the name of anybody I know.
Derrick is the dark sky looking back at me, saying,
Tomorrow, prom is tomorrow.
So you walk up to a river
and the river is dry, hasn't had
a drink in years. And you say, river,
there's supposed to be a party here,
a river party, I was invited
on Facebook. But the river just looks at you
like a school of dead
fish, a collectively opaque
eye, because one of the things that still
makes this river a river is that it can see itself,
every part of itself at all angles at once.
And it sees some of itself in you, a familiar
tear, a crinkly expression. Yes, it sees
your sadness, which is a river's sadness,
it says, and by the way, a river's sadness never ends
even when it is all drunk up. And it continues: it is that very inevitability
which begins a river's sadness. And then it apologizes
for saying begins which is a curse word to a river
just like ends. It says sorry to your river part.
And you say, here, and give that part back
and by giving it back you now feel entirely
like a river in that you suddenly can't
imagine knowing what it is that is not like a river about you.
You are, in other words,
falling in love. And your insides begin to swim and fish
begin to poke your river heart and river weeds begin to tangle round your
river ribs and a few drinks later you are happy
in all the ways you could be happy, which are all the ways
you could be sad. And then a person, as though separate,
walks up to you, and says, river
Peter Cole Friedman is a poet and visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Recent work has appeared in Prelude, Blue Lyra Review, and espresso ink vi. He co-edits the virtual literary and arts platform glitterMOB.