Monday Jun 24

Laura McCullough has four collections of poetry, Panic, winner of the 2009 Kinereth Gensler Award and forthcoming from Alice James Press, Speech Acts, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press, What Men Want (XOXOX Press), and The Dancing Bear (OPEN BOOK PRESS). A two time NJ State Arts Council Fellow, her poetry, prose, reviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Writers Chronicle, New South, Hotel Amerika, Crab Orchard, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, The Pedestal, and other journals and reviews.

Panic, Redbank

The club down on Front Street
around the corner from the comix shop,
Jay and Silent Bob’s,
and the line to get in so long that night,
he left and sat on the curb by the ice cream place.

That night the girl who passed out
from mixing alcohol with prescription drugs--
the names of which were not released in the papers—
died choking in her own vomit.

She’d danced.
She was pretty.
No one remembered she’d gone to the bathroom though,
until they found her in the stall.

He was still on the curb,
his sneakered feet lined up artfully,
his pencil pants bleeding into their tops,
the foundation of his panoply which he contemplated
as the ambulance light chiseled
through the drapery of his night. 

The Semantics of Panic

The New Year’s Eve fireworks done,
everyone funneling away from the river’s edge
when the Redbank police had to close the alley,
the police on either end saying,
it won’t be long; there’s a VIP convoy,
but this didn’t help the stranded party-goers,
all seventy of them,
especially those along the brick walls
and less so for those in the very middle,
a log jam after a hurricane has set everything loose upstream,
garbage mixed with vegetation,
a rising swell,
and though it was no more than twelve or thirteen minutes,
hot spots began to fester:

the man who swung his arms wide
to create a space for himself;
then another man screaming,
and a punch thrown over by the wall,
the cops at both ends yelling,

and the woman who closed her eyes,
eased her body against the back of the man in front of her,
how he leaned forward a little to hold the weight,
let it fold over him like a warm cloak.