The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sweet Child On the Pole, a Poem

Sweet Child On the Pole
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

That Jim is such a letch
he really needs to get laid
another Saturday night
and here we are again
the ladies know him by name
only because he’s a big tipper
for me there’s only so many times
you can see the same chicks naked
who you’re not allowed to score with
before the novelty wears off

so I shoot pool
while Jim plays pocket pool
on his rickety stool
at the end of the catwalk
a Miller Lite in his right paw
popcorn filtering through his left
a stack of greenbacks sitting on the edge of the stage
Jim’s lucky no one conks him
he’s not much of a fight

there’s a new girl this week
and she goes by “Cherry” on the catwalk
I hardly notice her
because my quarters are up
and the current table champ is waving me over
he offers me a gentleman’s break, I thank him
not a bad one; I drop the 13
I’m stripes, he’s solids

I hear the intro note plucks of “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”
and the bar starts falling into a rhythm
as does Cherry
Guns ‘n Roses is all the rage these days
the previous dancer came out to “Paradise City”

I flub my next shot, the eleven for the side
and the shark shows me yellow teeth
pulls ceremoniously on his Moosehead
and proceeds to wipe me out

he points to various pockets
and follows through each time
I nod respectfully and take my whipping like a man
but I can’t watch him drop the eight
an easy shot in the corner even for a hack like me
I shake his hand prematurely, good game
not really, I hardly showed up
and as I hear the black disappear with a plunk
I drift away from the table with my cue stick
and get a better look at Cherry

what I didn’t realize
was that Cherry had spotted me first
and oh my God, I know her face
just as she knows mine
it’s been many years
but I can tell you her real name is Nadine
Nadine Up the Street
I won’t tell you her last name
because I’m sure her family has enough to deal with

Nadine, wow
I remember the time we kissed
on your back patio
a quiet, simple little kiss
nothing heavy, nothing passionate
probably the most innocent kiss
I’ve ever received from someone
I’ve kept that memory in my pocket
like an old photograph I rarely show to anyone

or “Cherry” if you like
has her eyes fixed on me
man, the years have slipped away...
and judging by the angry stares of the other patrons
it might be the last time we see one another in this life

Nadine swoops around the steel pole on the catwalk
while Slash plays sentimental swoons
and Axl sings like he’s positively lovesick
Nadine pirouettes and starts working her crowd
but she continuously hunts my attention
this may her debut performance at this joint
but I can tell she’s been around-the-way
not just up-the-street
her hips cut the air with sexual tension
giving teasing glimpses of what lies outside of her g-string
at the moment she’s otherwise covered
with a man’s white button-down

I’m still holding my cue stick
and unaware I’m making an obscene shafting gesture
Nadine doesn’t miss this
and she flashes me the raunchiest smile I’ll ever see
nothing like the puritanical shy grin
after we kissed and left each other so many years ago
she tears open her shirt forcefully
the buttons flying into the drinks
of Cherry’s new devotees
and I see all that I never did when we were much younger

part of me feels titillated
the rest of me feels sick
because the Nadine I knew
had a bobbing brown ponytail
and day-glo sneakers like Punky Brewster wore

but the Nadine I see now
is being pelted with Georges and Jeffersons
from the howling wolves
one who gets too close
and is roughly jerked back
and escorted to the front door
his beer falling to the floor with a glassy shatter
(or Cherry)
raises her sinful eyebrows up
in expectation of my approval
silently saying “Like what you see?”
I’m getting uncomfortable
knowing this dance is strictly for me
my three Molsons don’t sit well anymore in my stomach

there’s Jim holding up green paper to her
which Nadine clutches with her breasts
and then she forces me to watch her take it
out of her generous cleavage using her teeth
while Axl ponders “Where do we go now?”
a sheer prophet, that guy

I’ve seen enough
so I get Jim’s keys
telling him I’m going for a drive
I give Nadine my back
partially to show the angry mob
they stand a chance without me in the way
but mostly because I’m embarrassed

when I turn around
Nadine has completed a tremendous
standing backflip from the pole
which generates roars of approval

the Guns guys are putting on a heated climax
to the final stanza of the song
and I fish out my last ten
keeping a twenty for myself
and I place it on the stage
obviously Nadine needs it more than I

“Thank you, Ray,” I hear
I nod once and leave the bar
vowing never to return after I pick Jim back up

Damn, I used to love that song...

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