High School Dances

When Police’s Message in a Bottle

comes on the radio, I return

to every high school dance.

I am lost in a crowd of gawky limbs,

and uncoordinated stomps

as we try to communicate

with every jerky movement.

The beauty of teenage girls

in strobing, blinking lights

and crepe paper dresses,

and ferocity of teenage boys

in outside groups

and dark corner jackets.

When they collect themselves up

behind the school and hold out there hands,

they pour out puberty and rebellion

from their back pocket flasks 

and become punch drunk in poor choices.

They twist up their names, smeared lips

and foggy windows into the empty liquor bottles

then try to put them back into their parent’s cabinets.

They try to find their youth by morning

between hangovers and regret.

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