Little girls in skimpy costumes
like some lecher’s fantasy.
They’ve been carefully coached
to be seductive for the cheers
of the audience.  The pelvic
thrust, looking over the shoulder
arms akimbo.  False eyelashes
and lipstick on an 8 year old,
and the throb of deafening music.

It goes on for hours in a hot
auditorium, a performance space
from the last century where
the plaque outside says
Helen Hayes played here.
But now sweaty fathers in shorts
and tee shirts sit on the front
steps scrolling their phones
looking for relief from this ordeal
a scene like a state fair cattle show 
where their daughters are displayed.