From the Balcony on Heavy Metal Tribute Night at the Trocadero

by Ernest Hilbert

Darkness throbs below. Four teenaged women
Execute thrash metal tributes, routines of
Accomplished ferocity, furious blonde plumes
Of hair lobbed side to side on the bright stage,
Splay-leggèd in tight jeans, knot-muscled arms
Attacking black guitars until they shriek.
I dream of vanished empires of the sea,
Lamps turned down along distant avenues, 
And know I’m always partly somewhere else,
Watching Degas’ ballet dancers: aslant
Like snow-loaded firs at their haunted rehearsal,
The rostrum a grotto flanked by valleys
Where nymphs and hunters trek in cold shadow.

Feet in position, the singer calls the next song,
Ready to pivot at heel as she charges
Into “Ride the Lightning,” and three awkward,
Aging men, thick-torso’d and gray-goateed,
Lighters aloft, nod their blunt heads at the foot
Of the stage’s apron for their fighters and fauns,
Valkyries summoning them, like memories
Of themselves, into nebulous vistas of smoke.