The Police Call It Paradise by Margaret A. Robinson

 

i

 

Map

 

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.

 

ii

 

Arrival

 

 

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

 


 

iii

 

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.

 

iv

 

Skinks

 

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.

 

v

 

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.

 

vi

 

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

 

vii

 

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.

Back to Archives

Margaret A. Robinson

Poetry

 

© 2005-2009 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas