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From The Echo of Applause

It was not much of a band
dominated by drum beat
and a slide trombone.
The theater dirty and dark,
smoke-filled --
the sparse audience of solitary men
scattered about,
all focusing intently on the small stage.


It was the mid-1950s --
the Casino on Fifth Avenue
in downtown Pittsburgh,
and I but fifteen years of age
and playing hooky from school.
Streetcar fare was only seven cents.
Entry easily gained on the basis
of my hormone driven bravery,
a ticket bought with lunch money,
and the indifference of the woman in the ticket window.


The curtains parted,
I held my breath,
my young heart pounding in my chest.
I was about to learn
of comic routines,
of bumps and grinds,
of pasties and G-strings.
It was wondrous.
It was burlesque.