ecstasy in an emergency by nina bisbano

ecstasy in an emergency

It was about 2:30 AM. The taxi blew a tire, and while the group of about a dozen passengers milled around waiting for another taxi to come, a beach buggy driven by a twenty-one-year-old man on a date came roaring along the sand from the opposite direction and, in Mitchell’s words, “collided head-on with Frank, who had strayed momentarily away from me and the group.”

i remember his hands trembling across the table

and wanting to be touched with all that captive intention

the visceral urgency of it all

desire carried out by the same bodily cues as anxiety

predicated on the thrill of failure

when the stakes are neverending pleasure, momentarily existential,

what do you really have to lose?

a stranger extends a key, and i take it under my tongue


to act erratic, erotic, to fall down a flight of stairs

to proclaim: “i am the least difficult

of men. all i want is boundless love.” without irony

rushing out of an anonymous lover’s apartment,

tumbling down onto the street,

tearing open my shoulder, my mesh top,

scraping the polish off my fingers, cherry red and bleeding

ecstasy like a memory in a dream


doesn’t it feel good? to elevate your heartrate,

to fail so spectacularly? to crash

and run flailing from it all, sprinting towards another chance,

another embrace? or to live and die in the moment

and that moment alone,

to be remembered as the softness of a shoulder blade,

or the glowing intimacy of an image on a glass screen


now this meditation takes some pacing

remediation between what’s real and what’s true

every poem is a love poem, every encounter is a moment

of emergency, and something always surfaces

hopeful enough to kill and beautiful enough to be forgiven

to love is to disfigure,

make uncanny enough to be haunting, familiar enough to be estranged

reflected in your eyes a vague blue

nina bisbano

nina bisbano writes poetry, plays, and essays. this year, she graduated from nyu, where she completed her capstone thesis, a chapbook entitled heat, and was awarded naropa university’s kari edwards memorial scholarship. she was born in new york, but probably won’t die there.