Karaoke Night, JB’s Bar and Grill
Everything heightened the night we met—
he didn’t sing, he shouted; didn’t dance, convulsed.
If I include Verve Pipe, could you guess the year?
When I was young, I knew everything.
Instead of listening, I decoded. His voice
the voice that rouses me now. He gripped
the microphone’s head, that tiny disco ball.
In a few years, he’d stop smoking, but that night
a flame in his hand. My mouth moved with his.
After, the high-top table. Two empty bottles.
Only photo in his wallet, his grandfather,
whose vintage button-down he was wearing,
vertical patterns like rows of stamps.
I love Dawson’s Creek, I warned. Better for him
to know me. His Creed joke—some said
he resembled Scott Stapp. Dark hair like a hood,
but otherwise I didn’t see it. He tipped his head back,
arms wide open: How about now? Had I ever
laughed so hard? (No.) My water a small river
making its way to him. He helped me mop the spill.
by Melissa Fite Johnson
Editor’s Note: Imagery takes center stage in this poem, where nostalgia and falling in love meet in the midst of the narrative, proving that poetry doesn’t have to be sappy to be emotional.