Neon Light Show (An Experimental Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Note: I have seen a few videos of neon light performances now, and each time they have always blown me away. Usually, they involve short scenarios or sketches with actors dressed up in neon lights to stand out on a dark stage, while performers dressed in dark clothes move around, using lighted parts of their bodies as props, or to help the main actors carry out magic (and other tricks). It feels like its own unique art form, so I tried to recreate a sketch of my own through words.]

On a stage                enveloped by darkness

    there appears a wooden bench composed of

             yellow          neon             slats—

         occupied by a young woman attired

                       in a dress woven from

              lavender              neon           threads

Piano music plays                

               a       soft        twinkling melody

    as the young woman sits with her head bowed

                     wringing her hands

          like a Cinderella unaware that she is radiant

                  as an ocean of stars—

                                 until bright       blue        hands

                                              their thumbs linked to create birds

                                                              swoop through the shadows

                                                                           nearby

She reaches into a pocket

                                                 and tosses something onto the ground

                   perhaps breadcrumbs

                                                                  or even bird seed

                                          so silent

                                                                              but heartfelt

                                                    for the hand birds to flutter down

                                                                                    and enjoy

Once they fly away

        the young woman stands and begins to walk to the left

                  and the bench flips sideways (just for a second)

                                   then vanishes

                            as a figure moves in the shadows

                                              joined by others

                                                        which light up into neon trees

                                                                    and even fenceposts

                                                                with fingers twitching

                                                                               to simulate branches rustled

                                                                                           by breezes

The young woman steps through this strange area

                            a park of sorts

                 surrounded by invisible assistants

                                   as if comfortable in her isolation—

                                             until she reaches a young man

                                                        in a brown         neon        tuxedo

                                                                      and purple tie

                                                                  beneath a tree where hands

                                                                            clenched into fists

                                                                                     form apples

The young man glances at his wrist       as if at a watch

             before he sighs         and fidgets with his tie

                                again and again

                   while a sorrowful violin tune echoes

                               amid the emptiness

He has been waiting for a while

                                   …waiting for her

Yet the young woman watches

          as she wrings her hands in nervousness

                     then reaches out

                             like she wishes to call out to him

                                        …a person who seems

                                                  just as anxious as she does

Yet she hesitates             and turns away with a wince

           as if ashamed of her cowardice—

                      but the hand birds flutter past her

                                 overhead

                                           and all land in the apple tree

                                                  which trembles just enough

                                                        for an apple to fall

                                                                    and bonk the young man

                                                                           right on the head

                                                                                   in a blow

                                                                              that knocks him

                                                                                       down

Tugged by compassion               the young woman approaches

                     as the young man rubs his head          

                                                       grabs the apple

                                                       looks up

                           . . . and their gazes meet  

All the trees are gone now                     so is the fence

Aside from the red apple made from a fist

                                                                               the two appear to be alone

                                but they are together

The young woman helps the young man to his feet

           before she bows her head                  as if unsure

                            what to do next

The young man breaks the red apple in half—

           he is quite strong               

                 (or perhaps it is because hand apples are easier to split)

                                      and offers one half to the young woman

They share the apple

                    which vanish in two bites

        before the young man offers his hand

                                   the young woman takes it

                                                 as they both disappear

                                …only to appear a moment later

                                             with the young woman in her long

                                                                                                   lavender

                                                                                                   dress

                                                     and the young man in his deep

                                                                                                   brown

                                                                                                  tuxedo

They are dancing in each other’s embrace

       while shadowy dancers            swish past

                 amid a waltz

                        which plays a hearty piano and violin tune

                                                  …but this time it is the nervousness

                                                                  and self-doubt

                                                                       of the young woman and man

                                                                                     that are really gone

                                                              …as birds tweet somewhere unseen

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