[This year is the 20th anniversary of Cape Cod Light by Michael Hattersley. The other parts of this series are here.]
Michael loved music, and enjoyed dancing (though truth be told he wasn’t very good at it.)
Michael’s haunt in Provincetown was the Little Bar at the A House, the slightly quieter one with less club-y music that was well-lit, and where he could get a table and smoke. And also (Michael was sure to note to those he would introduce the bar to): it was the spot where Tennessee Williams liked to sit and write when he lived in Provincetown. (!)
All night there would a steady stream of people from the A House Dance Club and the Macho Bar around and through the Little Bar, and thus Michael got to sit at the social hub of town, and enjoy its characters, while listening to the music. Later, after indoor smoking was banned in Massachusetts (and after Cape Cod Light was published), he favored the Porch Bar at the Gifford House as his preferred spot to “hold court” (as Richard Schneider put it).
The tenth poem in Cape Cod Light is Disco Dancing. It captures quite well I think the experience of eavesdropping on the random conversations of people at the bar and taking a break from the Dance Club—after a few years, I guess they all start to sound the same.
I don’t know if you’re what I want, he said.
We do things totally differently in New York.
She said it was coming on over a generation
Like sunrise sliding down the slope of the Rockies:
Even her dentist smoked pot on his vacations,
And her brother was reading Autobiography of a Yogi.
Someone said the seagulls were diseased,
Whole populations being annihilated right now.
And the jetty was dotted with corpses
Swirling slowly in the scummy brine.
He said it was time to shift inside
With the dancers, away from the hustlers by the pool
With the music, where the words were all the same
Circling back, predictable, on beat.
The next poem is here.