A Reason to Leave Florida for Maine
Sea-grapes sloth in sun coursing
on noon, mid-morning’s furnace
assembling humid ambitions.
To the west, clouds in earnest
call up reservists. No drills today,
the real thing late this afternoon,
a slow-grilled beachhead foray.
Summer cicadas cluck and croon
special ciphers of secret services,
and north and south, traffic gutters
along avenues periodically coerced
into clogs of idle-engine mutters.
All this is visible from the balcony,
like my neighbor’s mango tree
and its hanging, swollen fruit,
each capacious as a mandrake root,
like weekenders waiting to cross
the street and file into the park
to forget, to barbecue the losses
of the week and anoint the sparks,
to toast new nostalgia and more.
When it’s over droves of ibis
will scavenge the garbage stored
in the cans or littering the grass;
the weather will be a non sequitur,
a reason to leave Florida for Maine,
and the moon will wax another lane
waves score awfully into the shore.
Across the Avenue
Ants have built their cities in the vacant lot
where an old motel used to be.
The tall grass shimmies like sardines.
Burned and broken bricks lie
amid shards of glass and refrain from discussion
while household objects, charred and familiar,
dispassionately observe passing cars.
Like discarded toys, they look where they must.
A shadeless lamp with a futile wire,
a folding chair and a dial-less rotary phone,
receiver unhooked, angled up—
all of these survived the fire.
Most evenings there is static, as of snow,
from carmine and gold brindled clouds
emboldened as rams before clashing horns—
they ascend in spare arpeggios
and green the sea with shadows—
but tonight power lines pulse with gossip
while the city fence whistles the wind through
missing teeth, and the tall grass bends like truth
to a lie that smells of seaweed-tarnished sand.
One by one, the ants return to their homes.
Listen: the sound of the telephone, calling,
though it’s not sure who, or why.
The light at weekend’s end is better
Less like a roadblock,
more like spilled mercury, of the eel and the harp—
orchids sharpen their tongues in the trees,
trellised morning glories
glorify every shadow’s event horizon,
and yesterday’s early afternoon showers,
cool evening and cooler night,
long-sleeved chills bright and forthcoming as headlights,
flashes of sudden jazz—
like finicky, icthymaniac gulls eye-plunging
through admirable loops to beak sardines—
distance themselves in the evening’s
widening shadows. The television is on,
and soon I’ll draw the shades.
The grass will continue to infiltrate the coral path
even in this moment of apparent abeyance,
and what passes will have passed
like baby teeth to toothless grins,
from delinquents to wild, invalid pensioners hanging on.
The light at weekend’s end is always better.