Sketches from Florida
FUCK MILK! GOT POT? a wall of T-shirts cries,
I'M SHIT-FACED ON DUVAL STREET IN KEY WEST
TELL YOUR BOOBS STOP STARING AT MY EYES
as here, in Paradise, their chests addressed
with poetry and flair, the young attest
to perfumed tropic air, the sun-drenched play
of light on sea, a primal, noble quest:
I LIKE TO EAT IT RAW LIKE HEMINGWAY
A string of crowded clam bars throbs in disarray.
A string of Ski-Doos throbs in disarray,
the ocean churned to iridescent green.
No comfort here for shades and depths of gray,
or those who think that swells of opaline
seem artificial, tinted, or obscene.
This sea is key-lime lime; the buildings blue,
canary, mauve, or pink - aquamarine -
and all that matters is an ocean view,
a lipo-sculptured body, and a bold tattoo.
Venceremos, reads the old tattoo
behind the bar on Calle Ocho Street
where men who once were men with guns now brew
café con leche, skim milk, Ultra Sweet.
On every other Thursday night they meet
above a grocery store, and ramble on
on politics, betrayal and deceit;
the summer breezes off the Malecon;
how dolphins and a fisherman saved Elian.
No talk of fishermen or Elian
invades the Palm Beach Palm, where well-aged meat
is all that counts: blood-red chateaubriand
will make this gray and white-haired crowd complete.
This is no place for vegans; the effete
are not among the well-tanned coterie
that chatters here, bejeweled and indiscrete.
The Palm Beach Palm exudes prosperity;
a scent of flesh and freshly oiled mahogany.
A regal sense of dark mahogany;
thick drapes obscure all views of sun or sand;
cut glass and jade, chinoiserie; and she -
straight-backed at ninety-three - will take a stand!
They plan to raze her building, and demand
she leave. But she shall float above the beach -
her rugs, TV, her tchotchkes close at hand -
twenty stories high, where seagulls screech,
suspended by pure will, she hangs beyond their reach.
Suspended by a dream beyond your reach,
you hang above this land - forevermore
El chulo - Ponce, you pimp, you half-pint leech,
you cockamamy, cracked conquistador;
you soul, you fairy queen, you metaphor
for all the fools who choose to fantasize
that God rolls dice along this sun-crazed shore.
We've fallen for your whispering, your lies!
I'VE FOUND ETERNAL YOUTH a wall of T-shirts cries.