present tense

I am in a stadium of over 50,000 seats where perhaps that same amount of people sit and stand and scream and shake. Popular Band takes center stage and their highly expensive and calculated light show begins to dance along with their sound.

The Audience revels in their seats and their highly expensive and technologically advanced cell phone light show also begins.

In the olden days…or when I was younger…we’d bring along lighters to concerts, or those without would watch the sway of flames hum along with the music. The miniature fires would illuminate the crowd. Everyone was present with their flame.

Present tense, there are no lighters. People smoke up in private huddles and you might suddenly smell their secret stash behind you. The shine of lighters has been replaced by smart phones.

Beside me, as I sing along to the words I can remember and weep at the ones that remind me of something else, I notice a man (along with his wife/girlfriend/partner and son) using his illumination device to socially network. As the British lead singer jumps up and down with his fingers on piano– painted in neon letters– this man is scrolling with his finger to see what other people are doing.

When is what’s happening now enough?

People in museums stare at art older than their oldest family member…older than the textbooks we read about the history of our people. Art drenched in textured life. You can smell the booze in Pollack’s drips. You can smell the despair in Van Gogh’s canvases.

And yet, a person beside me, two feet from these works of art, must take a photo of this with their cell phone. Rather than seeing it with their eyes, glass must separate everything. A glass screen (often cracked) that can then upload then download then be used as wallpaper or screen saver or profile picture or or or….because it is not enough to just see this art. Everyone must know you are there.

So, don’t forget to check in.

musical interlude interruption

What is the instrumentation of smoke?

A wince of nose curls against the aroma/ drunk man ashes against lap/ there is sadness found in his almost-inflamed thighs.

Music wraps itself around me as the sun grows stifled by a rainstorm. The sky is sniffling. I offer it a giant handkerchief, which it declines.

Everyone’s body looks different here. Though many wear the same costume of designer rain boots, short short shorts and tank top, fabrics lay differently on the wide array of stretched out skin.

I notice these things while at a semi-local outdoor music concert set against the backdrop of water, bordering New York City and New Jersey.

As an explosion of live folk music fills the air, I’m mesmerized by humans.

How amazing to watch a body respond to sound.

Two young men begin to curve spines, wave their hands up and shake in a way comparable to a religious zelot quivering from god’s language.

I cannot help but smile when I watch a young couple kissing uncontrollably, dancing with their mouths and tongues.

A beautiful woman in ponytail and rolled up jeans, hops on each ankle, snaps fingers and I fall in love with her lack of concern and self-conscious hesitation.

I want to breathe in
I want to breathe in the odor of bodies sweating.

I wouldn’t mind inhaling the food trucks nearby selling grilled cheese sandwiches and tacos.

I’d like to smell the ocean, all salty and pungent.

Instead, I smell cigarettes.

I count the rings of smoke landing on unsuspecting heads like cancerous halos.

I can no longer hear the music when a man sits beside me, wearing a drunk slurred stare. I watch him awkwardly light his cigarette, then forget it’s there as ashes drip on his pants. He becomes a human ashtray and I wonder where his friends are. Or, is he with a partner and where is s/he? I forget to hear the music because the sound of his inebriation competes with the bass and forcefully strummed guitars.

When he leaves, I fall back inside the music. The narrative of love and resuscitation. A collision of stories.

What happens past the interlude of humanity.