New York by Stephen House
A poem by award winning writer, Stephen House
a handsome guy in an uptown cafe asks me
if i want go downtown to drink french champagne
with him and his friends
at some kind of fashion industry function.
he’s dressed up smart; i’m scruffy
so i comment on my dressed down look
and he says manly vintage with style is awesome,
and how do aussie guys pull it off so well? (i’m broke; that’s how).
we take a cab to a downtown swank club.
two women and a guy join us; and they’re dressed up too.
a guy says my faded pink denim shirt and ripped jeans are amazing.
(they were five bucks each at a second-hand market stall in harlem).
some other guy rushes up and gushes that we missed madonna by an hour;
and i’m wondering if he means the pop queen herself or the mother of baby jesus,
when he shows us a selfie of him with the real music mamma
(and that’s seriously impressive, as i’m an eighties dance-club whore).
he’s sharing the pic on every app possible
while i’m knocking back the french bubbles like water
and accepting compliments about my accent, hip style and original red nike runners
(that are the only shoes i currently own);
and also trying to look away from one guys eyes that keep drilling into mine
as he repeats (for the third time) that he likes older men with silver hair,
a woman who has joined us asks me my favourite nightclub in New York.
i tell her the name, and two people in the group comment that it’s way too dark for them.
i can see in there, i respond, and they all laugh, and i’m not too sure why.
(it’s true. the lights are dim, but its fine).
the guy i came with asks me where i’m living and i say uptown
near the cafe where we met,
and someone says that it’s way too dark there when i mention the street number.
i don’t get this too dark thing. ok. actually maybe i do. (it clicks).
as a guy makes a nasty joke about two asians who have just entered; (chinks, he calls them),
i realise dark means skin and race; not the amount of light to see with. ok.
i knock back two more flutes of free bubbles fast, and stand and say goodbye.
they look horrified that i’m leaving before the fashion parade kicks off, and ask me why.
i start to respond and then stop. (no; fuck them).
it’s way too light here i say.
that’s all; and i leave. (yes; fuck them).
the asian dudes say hi as i pass their booth
and i say hi back to them (and we all smile).
About the author:
Stephen House: has had many plays commissioned and produced and been published often. He has won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writer’s Guild), an Adelaide Fringe Award, First Prize Rhonda Jancovich Poetry Award for Social Justice, The Goolwa Poetry Cup, First Prize SA Writers / Feast Short Story Prize & Second Prize Poetry at Sawmillers. He has been shortlisted for Overland’s Fair Australia Fiction Prize, Patrick White Playwright and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, the Tom Collins, Robyn Mathison, Eyre Writers, Mindshare, Rhonda Jankovic Poetry Awards, a Di Cranston Script Award, and a Greenroom best actor Award. He has received Australia Council literature residencies to Canada and Ireland and an Asialink to India. His poetry chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press in 2018. Stephen continues to perform his acclaimed monologues, “Almost Face To Face” and “Appalling Behaviour” widely.
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