No Code Blue on the Dance Floor

by Marcus Clayton


“…if the snow buries my neighborhood…then I’ll dig a tunnel from my window to yours.”

-Arcade Fire


Confetti showered over our shoulders

swirled into spilt beer that drowned

your black flats, painting them rainbow,

and you still smiled as sweat swam

across our foreheads.

This time

you were doing a pogo as Win

yelped, “We Exist,” “Ready to Start”

and the sweat seeped down

as Régine chanted “Mountains

Beyond Mountains,” and not

from the nerves that swim through

your bones when a patient’s lungs, under

your watch,

deflate—the code blue that keeps you cold

your bliss sterile. No,


you breathe

in the nebulized fog machine

blue as the streamers dampening our shoulders

along with golds and reds,

greens and pinks

splashing over us


splashing over you—a serene sponge

bath in the coda of “Here Comes

the Night Time.” You will not

let IVs freeze your hand

as it reaches for mine

to let it sway

during ballads like loose hospital

gowns hung over former

vegetables learning to walk

again. You will not

let the overwhelming

picture of the ICU

take your breath as we dance

to Haitian percussion as it is studded

into us like a piercing on the hip.

You don’t think of the space

between me and the Step Down

Unit—where collapsed lungs

are pieced together and heart

beats drag like the broken knees

slugged around the Medical Floor.

We dance well after

the final notes of “Wake Up”

drifted into the blue fog within our lungs

and we cannot let go

        of one another

happily kicking up discarded

confetti into the DJ’s turntable.

I held your hips

and swayed and you

were not cold,

your chest



at your own pace and you looked

at me

we did not feel

the watches on our wrists

when you gently cupped my neck

to pull my lips towards yours,

my pulse surged

into your hands, and between beats

you did not keep time

we did not keep time.

we did not

     keep time.

M ClaytonMarcus grew up in South Gate, CA, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from CSU Long Beach. He coordinates poetry-reading events in Long Beach, is an editor for American Mustard, and a reader for The Offing. Some of his published work can be seen in Tahoma Literary Review, San Pedro River Review, RipRap Journal, Cadence Collective, Bird’s Thumb, and Canyon Voices Literary Magazine among others.


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