Essentially the Dross of Modernity

Comprehending the mundanity and magic of a modern night out in the city that never sleeps.

I don’t listen to much
popular twenty-first century
music on my own time.

I’ve got my own preferences, old
ones, rose-tinted rock riffs
and choruses my grandmother

would’ve remembered
fondly were she American.
However,

my friend loves it, and I love the bastard,
so I learned to relent.
The strobe lights of a text invite on a weekend night

whisk me off
on the subway to a tenement he shares
with other millennial proto-yuppies

with cheap empty glass vodka bottles
placeholding proper décor
and full ones in the fridge placeholding

jugs of water. After a couple hours’ drinks,
listening to any and all cacophonous indie artists he recently
discovered, I am primed for the club crusade.

It isn’t that I dislike the music;
I’ve got my own personal
dose of respect for the established

electronic
beat of the day. After all, the day is mine –
ours – and I’d be mutinous

to harbor endless disdain for the culture
thrust upon me, or perhaps I,
birthed within, upon it. I appreciate

the experimentation, the novelty
sometimes, the sound and fury signifying nothing,
and the lights. It’s the distraction of it,

the stimuli, that makes it tolerable,
the drunken ignorance I get
to indulge in, the seeing so much

and being blind, the
simultaneity, the no-worry of not touching
extremities in grey areas.

We leave the apartment and set sail. I smoke a cigarette
and stumble over pavement cracks,
suddenly and in no perceived time finding myself groped

by a bouncer manning the line,
with my pockets’ contents in my hands
and baskets, $20 gone,

my body then thrown into neon sweats and belligerent
hops—
everyone’s. Everyone’s bright in here,

I think, exuberant,
sloppily inebriated, and in uniforms which they must
have spent a sober silent hour

considering in some Astoria, Battery, Harlem, Williamsburg,
Up-Low-East-West-side
studio cranny of a closet of a bedroom.

While the overpriced watered-down drinks
sustain me over time somehow, and the music consistently
keeps its promises of satisfying cliffhangers

and freefalls, and sometimes doesn’t
repeat itself insufferably, I still find
myself drowning early in the long night,

asphyxed by still air
or my numbness to its currents,
or by precipitous dread

upon awareness
of the
laser-lights’ patterns.

It becomes a predictable chaos,
a drugged and loud but tame and
dubious rebellion on the part

of my peers. I begin to feel, as if
in a feeble, maybe even
sibylline sobriety, that here,

unlike any other place
I’ve ever gone to willingly, I’ve no
reason to speak, no ear

with which
to even
hear myself,

so,
to go,
I’ve

no choice but to exert what little energy I’ve left by screaming
echoes down and into the goddamned damaged cochlea
of my friend, to bang his timpani with my steamwhistles, to, at last, express

the urge to get away from it all.