What We Do Poem by Stephen Cramer

What We Do

Rating: 4.5

Metallic detonation arced
over Broadway's gulf, & the aluminum
contorts to contain the continuous
syncopation wrecked into its side-

with two feet of pipe
a man's beating a keg till it turns useless
for anything else but to carry
his liquid rhythms. He's drumming

a rim full of dents, angled facets
that pull to themselves
all the sun they can bear before tossing
a tremelo of light off the bricks behind.

Looks around: whatever this sound is
that ricochets the streets is contageous,
less drums than a seasonal quickening
that everything's so busy keeping up with,

new desire mixing up the thick torpor
of the past months. At my feet,
two pigeons struggle over any spare
piece of garbage to entice a female.

They fumble in this patch of spilled popcorn,
gurgling and churring in figure-eights,
inflating the sheen of their necks
over their turf. Even when she dodges

away, they just keep flashing iridescence
for no one. Noontime, the drummer's checking
the metal where he's reflected
in more than one place, tucking a stray

curl behind his ear. But just so you don't
forget whose block this is,
when a woman goes by
he's sent demonic, like he knows

this commotion's for keeps,
and he's thrown into a shimmy
of the hips which he rises out of
just in time to fit the mechanical stumble

of a far-off jackhammer into his running
cadence. These sounds the music
wants to encompass, make its own,
so in the end, you can't tell if he's playing

the drums or if they're playing him.
Because when you're itching
to finish with your wrists
the rumble that begins in your gut,

this is what you do-you're ready
to bang on anything for love.
You'll break your hands
to get that rhythm out.

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