The Police Call It Paradise by Margaret A. Robinson






Keep going, leave North and

East behind like a too-tight shirt.

Youíll make it, travel

West where many tufts

Erupt in green water, so far

South you can smell Fidelís cigar.

The next stop, Havana.







On the bus, a lame man

            gives up his seat


Pony-tailed Harley riders

let pedestrians cross


Ficus weaves a glossy hedge


Sidewalk kitty chow fills plastic dishes


Ecru bottle-brushes - sansevieria in bloom


Bougainvillea swishes

on a chaste picket fence





732 Olivia Street



A mildewed stone wall, bromeliad

flower overhead.  A powder-blue gate.


The metal numbers have fallen off,

732 showing white like a watch strap


mark on a tanned wrist. The latch

presses down, the panel swings back


to sudden damp shade under palms.

Suitcases jounce along the walk.


Loose porch railing, three steps,

French doors.  The key opens


the tiny conch house.  We flop

onto chairs, kick off our shoes,


split our cocoons all at once.






Stopping in mid-skitter,

clinging to the porch screen,

a brown leaf on legs

(hoping for a mate)

balloons its red throat,

shifts into fifth gear,

flicks out of sight.


Skink forbears watched our

friend Pete add a living room

clerestory, pour visitors wine.

Scent of jasmine, taste

of key lime on warm nights.  Fans

fluttered sheer drapes.


Skink ancestors zipped

past Elizabeth Bishop, sipping Cafť

Bustelo in a nearby house.

Her feet were bare.  Her pen

crossed out lines while

her lover slept.  Nested


like two forks, we startle

awake.  Roosters pierce the air,

a skink careens up the wall,

blows away like cigar-rollerís

smoke, like the steam from Bustelo

weíre about to drink.




800 Elizabeth Street



Donít Piss Off the Fairies

warns the neatly-lettered sign

on a small royal palm,

rough bark made rougher

by super-size spike heels,

black, white, mostly red,

satin sides, killer points.




slant place



warped window sash

light splintered through slats

dracaena leaves like fireworks

uneven table legs


tilted hats

oblique century plant

Cuban rolls slashed

into blunt-ended boats


angled surf meets sloped beach

gritty coral rock

low rays on slow sails

bikinis cut on the bias




Paradise Lost



A guitarist in gauzy pants

plays for vows.  Sunset

at the beach.  Fade to dusk,


jet home to sleet, wake

to windows in the wrong place.

Half of me hasnít left.


Stepping into a modern tub,

a flashback of claw feet,

a narrow curtained space.


Daffodils play way too

softly, the way pigeons

coo.    I want brassy


frangipani, pelicans

overhead, a quality of light.

White ibis.  Six-toed cats.

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Margaret A. Robinson



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