Near the End of the Century

Jacques J. Rancourt

It's 1987, by which I mean
                         I’ve been born,
             though barely, while in the heart
of Harlem strutters peck down
                         a runway & speakers
             fray on about love:
park benches with no streetlamps,
                         examination rooms
             with no rubber bands
to bulge the veins blue. Time is elastic:
                         either it’s 1994, or it’s 1980,
             or it was just last night,
it makes no difference: someone slips out
                         the back screen porch
             of their parents’ home
for the last time, someone leaves behind
                         everything they know
             about how this will end
to the future to stand outside
                         those warehouse doors,
             bass crushing their chest.
They might be a vision, then,
                         if they could enter. They might
             reapply mascara in the greased
bathroom mirror or duckwalk
                         the runway, their hands
             two birds bickering above
their hair. They might make out
                         with a ghost, they might
             twirl like a disco ball, spraying
this room & everyone in it
                         with flecks of lit glass
             until the host, clacking fans
with both hands, declares: The old world
                         has passed away—
             Behold! All things have been
made new. But for now it’s not yet
                         the end of the century,
             by which I mean
they have no reason
                         not to believe her.