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AMERICAN BANDSTAND / Michael Waters The boy rehearsing the Continental Stroll before the mirror in his bedroom— does he memorize the sweep of hair tumbling across his eyes when he spins once, and claps his hands? Home from school in winter, he studies the couples on television, their melancholy largo, how they glide together, then separate. Such dancing makes him nervous— too many hand motions to remember, where to slide his feet, and every girl in the gym staring at him. That boy was familiar, twenty years ago, saying hello to a loneliness peculiar to the tender, the high-strung lanterns suspended above the dance floor, ousting shadows, leaving him more alone, trapped in the spotlight. The Peppermint Twist, The Bristol Stomp, The Hully Gully are only memory, but loneliness still dances among the anxious ghosts of the heart, preparing to stroll down a line formed by teenagers mouthing lyrics, clapping hands, forever awkward, each partner dreaming of grace. The Missouri Review · 37 MONOPOLY / Michael Waters The loneliness of two people together, rolling dice as if their luck might change, arrives with the breeze of moths fanning a lampshade, casual, without voice— so the radio keeps reciting those brokenhearted syllables that tumble through the open window onto the wet street. When I glance up, I can see the woman dancing, alone, while her husband swaps deeds, steers a miniature, silver racer along the boardwalk or, worse, drags a worn shoe onto Baltic Avenue, past peep-shows where couples simulate sex on screens flecked with grime. This game seems crazy to her because it holds the boredom back only a few minutes, because no one can possess the night. Her husband thinks she's silly, so the board is folded, the money stacked by color, and water runs in the bathroom for a long time. But, in bed, they pull each other close, and why not?— each hauling the other like found junk, 38 · The Missouri Review hoping to become something more valuable, less bankrupt, before the slow irony of dawn, before the next cast of moon. Together, in their yellow room, they level their account: a little motion that might pass for travel, an overwhelming desire to win without luck. Michael Waters The Missouri Review · 39 GREEN SHOES / Michael Waters Those green shoes on the curb belong to the bum sleeping in the doorway. He wants the warmth of the sun to inhabit them, to last through another bitter night. He'll doze until the traffic grows heavy, businessmen grinding home, then rise to slip on those shoes— still amazed by the perfect fit, green shoes thrown away by some big woman no longer desiring to dance, whose husband burst his heart wrestling such strong legs. He likes to imagine that!— this bum who bears witness each day among back alleys, who tried them on, and grinned, and tramped off as if owning the whole blooming world, still trusting dumb luck, secure in the knowledge the lost somehow find shelter, the crippled always catch up, the thirsty divine water, the disinherited are welcomed home wearing green shoes polished with spit and sleeve, green shoes flashing fortune in the unblinking sunlight. 40 · The Missouri Review ...


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