MANGO STREET PARADE

Here were palm trees for Christmas
Sugar sand and a melting sun
A mango street parade
First mirage slivers, then a loud wave
It swallowed you whole
With the rest of San Juan.

It was all makeshift
Fake beards and hand-me-down music
Girls with sheets for dresses
Stomping shaking colliding
Excitement had a monopoly on them all.

Goodbye elegance, hello colored lights
Caffeine vibrations and rum nights
They threw mangoes on the street
And candies in your hair
Melting in the heat, into
Heavy saccharine air.

Everyone a dancing candy
Wrapped, unwrapped, on
Cellophane streets
Sticky skin and sweat like
Syrup, dripping from
Body to body, from
Chin to chest, from
Sole to concrete.

A tropical soup
Of boiling dancing things
It caught you and
You danced, too
In wild shakes and feverish spins
Fighting hot wind
Fighting gravity
Fighting the memory of reality.

It was just a mango street party
And you, a mango too
But only briefly
Until you ripened and fell
To the sideline, no longer weightless
A broken spell.

You sat in wrapper heaps
Sweat now a quiet dew
Watching the parade
Parade on by, to
Other burning streets
Far away from you.

SUNDAY NIGHT GAME

It was one of those nights
When the weather's mood
Matched mine.

There were leaves on the ground.
I wanted to pick up leaves like words.
I wanted to pick up words like leaves.
And petals off my nose.

It was a strange day,
The day the amateur found romance
In his fingers.

The headphones played jazz.
Take me to
The real thing
And I'll play with you too.

And then
Hey, lady! Come inside!
Live jazz, no cover!
The famous Butch Warren
On the bass tonight
For you.

Butch ate stale soup
Outside
On a cold iron chair
Waiting his turn.

He gave me a grunt
Stale like his soup
And I said
Nice to meet you
Famous jazz man.

And I wanted to say
You play your game
I play mine.
Okay?

And he said
You can't just spew
Up onto a page.
Not without at least
A little stir.

So I said
Let me try
This writing thing.
And bring me one
Martini.

Plus one lime,
Minus one cherry.

I wanted snow on the leaves and
snow on the words,
In my hair and on my clothes.
I wanted a nice pen.

The trumpet player sat at the bar
Pretending to play guitar.
Why does he lie?

Hey! No more jazz, trumpet player?
Hey! Don't leave me to
Play all alone.

There were three roses in the window
And stained glass in frames.
And the poem would be
A sad pile of leaves.

Dip out, now
Run away!
Leave the playing to the
Masters
Lady.

One martini
With water on the side?
Please!
And mix me a
Pile of leaves.

The glass made
A four-ring shadow on
My polyester tablecloth.
Dance with
Me, shadow!

Oh, the sad dialogue
Of romantic fingers.
Minus money,
Plus pathetic.

The trumpet player's a drummer now.
Delusion virus?
It was just an experiment!

Too much money.
Too many trees.
Too much thinking.
It pollutes the leaves.

It was a bad pen.
So bye bye jazz.

Good night in the city.
Good night to the city.
Don't be courageous.
Forget those sad romantic fingers.

GUY ON METRO

On the metro I sat next to a guy in a dark suit and a top hat. He had a black briefcase on his lap that looked like it came out of the early 1900s or something. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that really the whole outfit looked like he'd just walked off the boat at Ellis Island, back in the day when many people walked off boats there. Something smelled strongly of flowers and it came from him I think. The smell was very strong, like he'd just taken a shower in his mother's perfume, or his girlfriend's perfume. He started looking for something in his briefcase, and I was wondering if maybe the whole thing was filled with rose petals. I thought of him opening his bag and the rose petals pouring out of it, onto the seat and my thighs and the floor and my feet. I felt good next to this guy, like I was in a very sweet time warp. Like I was on a ship coming from Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, but instead of the air smelling like seawater and piss, it smelled like this guy who showered in rose petals.