Wednesday, April 04, 2007

NaPo 07 #4: Hemingway Ate Here

Today you get two poems, because I was just too damned lazy to write one yesterday. Complain to the appropriate authorities, if you must.

Hemingway Ate Here

He starts to build the fire before the sun
sneaks out of the country. Two great beams
liberated from the railway track form the base
on which to balance the oil drum. Boys
from the school down the street watch him
break sticks for kindling, run when the aunts
take to pasting magazine strips onto strings
to weave between the balconies.
"The weather continues
hot and humid. No
hurricanes today.
Wishing you were here
in place of me. Beggars
and hustlers drain
all fun from this place."
The new-wrought iron edging my balcony
is a border post: behind me, a tourist
destination, where food is delivered
with a surly smile and guides take us
in coaches to beaches. I have a maid.
Men with gold teeth would sell me
a woman - or a boy - as long my pockets
rustle with convertible pesos, enough
for them to bribe the officer with the gun.

Downstairs is a different Havana; one
the authorities have not yet fixed up
for my eyes. I smile at the fat woman
when she waves to me; she has not moved
from her couch for a week, her teeth
almost as rotten as the panels of her door.
"Today we went
to a beach where
nobody tried
to sell us cigars
or sex. Men
with peak caps
and guns patrolled
the sands. I miss
the sound of motorways."
The smell of roasting goat miracles
the fat woman from her couch, to lean
her heavy arms on her rust-woven
balustrade. You ask: "are you hungry?"
I nod my head in time with the salsa.
"We can eat at the Bodeguita, and take
a pen to sign the walls." I smile
and agree, though I know they whitewash
the restaurant annually. They serve goat
there too, which makes a change
from chicken, or pork, or fish.

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