Luigi Coppola

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“The Light in the Nightclub,” read by Luigi Coppola.

The Light in the Nightclub

We thought the lights had come on
but it was just her illuminating the hall,
rays refracting through the sweat on the walls,
through our glasses and into our eyes.

Like food at a shrine, we offered her pills
of all colours: the red ones made her wings
swirl then twitch; she munched on white ones
like dried apple pieces; the blue ones made her
speak in tongues through tears.

We giggled and sighed with every drop,
collected them in a half-empty beer bottle:
the dregs bubbling, our wine turned water.

When she stripped down to feather and skin,
the crowd made space, howled at her
movements at the same time ecstatic
and melancholy, seductive and impossible
like the best kind of art.

We danced around her and stared
as her moulting feathers were stamped on,
ground into the spillage and sick,
the fibres sticking like congealed blood,
her dirtied knees buckling like spider’s legs,
her throat twisting like a last choked prayer.

When froth came up from her stomach
and her sweat turned yellow, we knew
we had gone too far.

By the time the medics arrived, she
had vanished: one drunk said she became
the music, flew back into the speakers;
another said she picked up all her feathers,
left by the fire escape; another claimed to be
the angel, but his scars didn’t match hers.

I know the truth—she brushed up against
me. See, here on my arm is her blood,
her sweat, a strand of hair and this feather
in my pocket that I’ll be buried with
so I can give it back to her
at the start of eternity.

Hear “The Light in the Nightclub” set to music:

Luigi Coppola is a teacher, poet, first generation immigrant and avid rum and coke drinker. Shortlisted for Bridport Prizes, longlisted for the Ledbury and National Poetry Competitions, publications include Worple Press’ anthology ‘The Tree Line’, Acumen, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Iota, Magma, Rattle and Rialto (

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Photo: “Party Lights,” Public Domain.

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