Poetry

South America Studies

Heading south to Uruguay in less than a month after fifteen years away.  Getting so excited, I’m sketching the place in advance.  Thanks, Google Maps!

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Birds of South America

                                                                            —Americana arrogantus

When summer comes, los uruguayos perch

Themselves on Maldonado’s Punta shore

Like seagulls, each aims a firm, fat belly

Boiled eggs in salted sun.

                                                     Across the border

Beyond the Rio de la Plata’s breeze

Argentinos strut through Buenos Aires

Proud as peacocks, their tilted coccyges

Bent back, cocksure, as if supporting plumes

Of opalescent eyes.

                                                     Over the Andes

In war-torn Santiago, los chilenos cuddle

Nuzzle—all in cooing, kissing pairs

A flock of plaza pigeons, not people

 .

I mock them all, yes, yes—but I’m regal

Soaring above, a bald-headed eagle

 

Baskets

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Baskets

                                                   —for Annelies

Not the one carried by little red riding hood

Skipping through woods to grandma’s house

Not the metal one screwed to my first bike

Nor the netted one through which I swished

My first free throw:  There’s another basket

One we sit in patiently, tomatoes at a corner store

Each awaiting fingers, a squeeze, a test to reject

We are all tomatoes:  skinny, fat, juicy red

Embarrassed by our flaws, our absent hot-house taste

My own basket, woven now for fifty years

Not made of straw, not woven strips of wood

At some point, we leave our baskets on the street

Outside some corner store, out in the air

Bare for all to see, to poke and squeeze and sniff

Look — See that man skipping down the street?

He’s light as a feather, a strip of straw

A girl on her way to grandma’s house

 

Big Fish

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Many thanks to Gyroscope Review for publishing the following poem in their Winter 2017 issue: 

Big Fish

                                         —restaurant & bungalows

Last year, a beach-view balcony

  a midnight breeze brought salt

    thirsty lime juice on our lips

.

At lunch, cotton-stuffed cushions

  tables tall as crisscrossed knees

    curries spiced with dragon weed

.

This year, a cold-water room out back

  garden dogs, mosquito verandah

    laptop lines and letters glow

.

Tonight, back for another sea breeze

  pineapple curry on chicken and rice

    I breathe the freedom absence brings

.

Your absence, a ghost seated beside me

  stirs her own papaya pleasure

   same same, yes yes, but different

.

Afternoon in Amsterdam

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Many thanks to Sandy River Review for publishing (most) of the following poem in their Fall 2016 issue.

Afternoon in Amsterdam

                                                                     —for Roland Möe

Forget the red-light district

. toothless skirts from overseas

.. imported age-old fantasies

.

I ask the way to the Van Gogh show

. a bearded local walks me there

.. we smoke a bowl on a smoky bench

.

Inside, alone, nose close to canvas

. amazed by heavy strokes of pain

.. such violence in a starry sky

.

Someone tugs my sweater sleeve

. that beard with marijuana breath

.. twice my age, here to persuade

.

I say I’m hungry, leave the show

. he follows, knows a place not far

.. leads me back to his second-floor flat

.

Up steep and narrow bohème steps

. he serves up bowls of stovetop gruel

..  veggies and grains, a sweet-spice stew

.

Once he tastes, I try a bite

. smoke another bowl, relax, unwind

.. he lays a lazy hand upon my knee

.

Downstairs, distressed, I say I’m beat

. heading back to my hotel to sleep

.. he begs me not to go—Please, stay

.

Half his age, afraid of his long song

I find my way to the red-light zone

.. still unsure if any road leads home