Adam Fitzgerald
Here Comes the Hotstepper

Unlike my older brother, I generally enjoyed the nineties.

A world of Netscape, chat rooms and Fruit by the Foot.

I remember them like the debossed covers of R.L. Stein.

Neon sex toys dotting our suburban malls lead us to believe

in an intimacy communicated beyond brand names

when our couch sucked back into a shady hole of hands.

September came, laden with unused Trapper Keepers.

Macarenas were danced. Ring Pops were had. Giga Pets 

and Beanie Babies, Dunk-A-roos and VHS cassettes.

The Little Golden Books by my bed told me stories.

Cedar Crest and chlorine. I remember snow days.

Watching humanoid Bob Barker on split-screen TV.

Closed armoires scented with piney Lemon Pledge.

In the woods was mesh and abandoned buckets of

porn beside inscrutable rainbow tree frog corpses.

Lisas and Jessicas and Matthews and Michaels all.

Narcotic and green, a risible lump disturbed life,

dizzying mallets hobbling us to plastic-farm noon.

Success metrics had incomparable swish. People

kept moving and threaded through one another

with slogging garage door jerkiness. And most

menacing: how happiness encroached with slow

ultimatums fatalistically stuck to stick-resistant pans.

Abundance, reversed now, feels shod. Feels pocked.

It could be no more than a rake in the trunk of a car.

I didn’t know then what a locker room was for.

Friends were screen names and infinitely away.

If I had to point a finger, if I had to queue a song

to play my life, if the finishing move was finality,

wouldn’t my sense of the nineties bring back painless

simplicity in transit? Weight Watchers and frozen

people. Linoleum not to be remembered if outlived.

Afterwards, I saw what they did to the bed furniture. 

I knew their services weren’t free. Not to “go there.”

What was taken from me is still happening. Scrubbed

out. Tossed out. I never cared for the dishes. What

they replaced me with not me. That was never me. 



Found In Volume 44, No. 05
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Adam Fitzgerald
About the Author

Adam Fitzgerald is the author of The Late Parade, his first collection of poems. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Granta and elsewhere. He is contributing editor for Literary Hub and directs The Home School of Hudson, New York and Miami, Florida. He teaches at New York University and lives in New York City.