my first night here,

i glide through the streets

with forbidden rock ‘n’ roll in my ears,

reveling in the monochrome,

and search for the perfect concrete wall

to bang my head against.


i walk up to a Plattenbau,

where i see a couple framed

in a third-floor window,

sitting at a small wooden table,

a pot of tea between them,

their hands loosely clasped.


i watch them for several minutes

and let my loneliness ravage me,

then slam my forehead against the wall.


my head makes barely a sound,

and the bloodstain isn’t as startling

as i’d imagined.


i carry the lump around on my forehead,

tucked under my bangs,

hoping to find some man

who will brush them aside

and press his fingertips against the bruise.


the next night, i’m darting again

through the streets,

mourning the loss of my fading lump,

wearing a t-shirt that reads,

in red letters:


             DEATH BEFORE DISCO,


when he walks by me 

in a faded denim jacket with a rolled-up piece of samizdat

sticking out of his pocket,

and says, come with me

i’ll change your mind about disco.


he pulls me into an underground club

down the block

where Miss You is pulsing


       — the perfect bridge —


and my shirt suddenly feels glib,

so i pull it off and dance

in just my red bra and black leather pants,

flinching in ecstasy

as he brushes aside my bangs

and holds his forehead against mine.


he tells me he can’t stay

one more night on this side:

he’s going to scale the wall,

even knowing he’ll likely be shot.


but i won’t go with him —

i’m not interested in seizing

the easy abundance of the other side,

the Levi’s peddlers and porn shops

already glittering.


there’s nothing left to resist over there, i say.

the work is already done.