Take Back The Night

Chi Chi Valenti, 1990

All who remember basement rooms or the promise whispered in afterhours stairways,
take back the night.
All who have lost their way to drugs or cures and all who have simply lost their nerve,
take back the night.
All who have grown up restless in a thousand sleeping cities,
only to come here and ask
"Where is the magic city I have dreamed of?"
take back the night.

Take it back from mere attitude and return it to grand gesture.
Take it back from every futures trader yearning for a new life.
Take it back from sweater consultants and out of town investors.
Return it to ruined men with no feeling for the masses, and no stomach for the shameless sell.

Take it back from the understudies of understudies.
Take it back from little black cocktail dresses, and the girlfriends of near-famous men.
Return it to difficult women,ragers,top girls who blow smoke defiantly
and slouch in fashion's face.

Take it back from gay-bashers and gay supremists alike,and return it to
lonesome cowboys and rock-and-roll fags.
Take it back from crusading police captains and self-appointed neighborhood saviors.
Take it back from vodka companies and crack dealers.
Take it back from New York Magazine.

We have heard it whispered every now and again.
Somewhere a monster is feeding that will raise its head angry and swallow
everything in sight.
Somewhere, angels wait in cheap rooms and lush apartments,
and even now they are dreaming.

Of a six o'clock dawn with the music beating down sheer voodoo and nobody ever again afraid of a disease. Take it back.
Of a great light returned to the city that never sleeps.
This light will burn away the usual well-placed spots and flashbulb radiance. Take it back.
Illuminating arches of perfect young spine on crumbling staircases,
Cigarettes held meaningfully as scepters.

And the grand march on that morning:
Glistening bleached blondes and righteous sissies
Boys with angel faces and checkered pasts
Exhausted painters/ Elegant junkies who fell off fire escapes too early
dreadlocked camel traders from afterhours black markets
the Teutonic diva who began with Madame Butterfly and ended up playing Camille
the obscure stars of super-8 movies and Times Square backrooms
Children so ancient at sixteen they seemed destined to die of old age
The fragile slum goddess who traded all her chiffon and fame for a gift of prophecy,
Kamikaze poets with tongues sharp as sacred hara-kiri knives.

At once they will rise out of restless beds and rush out secret doorways.
No press kits will proceed them.
They'll come silently, by taxi, through the ruins of the night city, to a basement lost
to the sleeping world.
They will push past the doorway curtains
Back to a room where the real Loleatta Holloway is wailing and a baby Jean Harlow waits
in bias-cut satin just beyond velvet ropes.

They will roll down the rugs or sprawl carefully on couches.
Their makeup will be perfect.
They will take back the night.

- Chi Chi Valenti ,1990

Originally published as the last page of the last issue of the original Details Magazine. Republished 1992 in Verbal Abuse #1