“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

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The underground died in New Orleans on Halloween. 1991, The Blue Crystal, the only real goth/industrial dance club until you hit Houston, and even then. We streamed in in leather and eyeliner from a fishnet network that spiderwebbed across bayou and cane field. Teens from rural trailers. Closeted roustabouts home from the platforms. The DJ spun hypnotic, synth-y beats that said black-and-blue glamour, said urban in a way that conjured decaying capitals. Masked in our cartoony nihilism, we were temporarily protected from backwardness outside, like X-ing frat boys who regularly “fag bashed” anything arty that slunk across their path. We screamed lyrics with fake British accents and not a cig’s wisp of irony. Then Nirvana’s kitschy guitar riff ripped out. We stopped mid-spin and stared. A mainstream song they played on the radio. Our strobe-lit dungeon invaded by flannel. The dancefloor cleared. Junkies grabbed their rigs. A few preppy teens must have wandered in by accident, tried to make it work by working it out freestyle. Busted the Running Man on Siouxsie’s grave. Later, a skatepunk kicked one’s ass for the shit of it. Plant lights bled haloes into the chemical haze.

-Wendy Barnes

Barnes_sizedWendy Barnes‘ poems have appeared in publications like No, Dear, Painted Bride QuarterlySpiral OrbPodiumSection 8, and Slice Magazine. Her chapbook, So-Called Mettle, was published in 2012. She is a graduate of the Cal Arts Writing Program and a doctoral candidate at Drew University. She lives in Brooklyn.

Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

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