Alaskero Song

by Abigail Licad


 "Balloons" by  Emilio Venegas Jr.  |  ISSUE ONE

"Balloons" by Emilio Venegas Jr. | ISSUE ONE

 

Inside the taxi dancehall, dressed in their dazzling McIntosh suits
worth two weeks' wages, the lettuce fields far away,
the heat and sweat beneath overalls and dirtied boots
dissolving at last, tonight fantasy their reality will sway.
Just for ten cents a ticket, one ticket per dance, two minutes long —
Little brown brothers, dance your splendid dancing, prove you belong.

Bachelors doomed outside to scorching, lonely workdays, 
in here transform to princes of lindy hop, shimmy, and swing,
endure a new kind of exhaustion but claim their newfound space,
leading with assurance blonde ladies who oh-so-lightly cling.  
Just for ten cents a ticket, one ticket per dance, two minutes long — 
Little brown brothers, dance your splendid dancing, prove you belong.

In here the men can dream of lasting love, 
even as outside the mobs are forming near the entrance, 
incredulous, angry contagion gathering momentum to shove; 
but let the moment linger inside, let the men dream of romance.
Just for ten cents a ticket, one ticket per dance, two minutes long — 
Little brown brothers, dance your splendid dancing, prove you belong.

Soon the mobs will tear down the door, dissolve the fantasy, 
lodge bullets through fedoras and track stains on the floor.
But before sirens replace music along with red revolving lights of reality,
Linger on, little brother, touch your cheek to hers, feel to your deepest core. 
Just for ten cents a ticket, one ticket per dance, two minutes long — 
Little brown brothers, dance your splendid dancing, prove you belong.

 


Writer's Bio:

Abigail Licad is a 1.5-generation Filipino American who immigrated to the U.S. with her family at age 13. She received her B.A. from University of California-Berkeley and her M.Phil in literature from Oxford University. Her work has been published in Calyx, Smartish Pace, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times, among others. She has served as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to Senegal and as Hyphen magazine's Editor-in-Chief. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.