Florida derby

Once, I wanted to paint

but the canvas

wasn’t there

I found, instead

just an old bed sheet

that someone

had left out in the

early morning

Miami rain…

…poor visibility

and cataracts

cloud my

judgement.

I

find comfort in

your arms when

the weather beats

against the shutters,

when the old

drunks clatter

down the street

at 4AM

when there is

a truck abandoned

at the end of the block

with its lights still on

when

a life is lost

or

a soul forgotten.

I think of

a shipwreck

twenty years ago

…I dream of youth

and riding the finest

horse in the world

across the finish line.

We’ve never lost have we?

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short sale

don’t put it on the market
yet
just tell the neighbors,
you are
waiting
for the next
bubble
…you don’t really need it…
do you?
you can still walk, can’t you?
you can still pretend
…when you have to
can’t you?
So
don’t spend all day
at the casino
you don’t need the grief
forget
the dollar slots
they are
not the
answer
JUST
plant your
beach chair in the sand
and wait for
sunrise.

the Florida panther

there is a panther lurking
around the shed behind
my house
I saw him last night
his

hungry…killer eyes
glowing in the
Everglades night
like twin lightning fires

in the sawgrass

I hadn’t spotted one since
’08, but there he was
a big, two hundred pound male

…a panther lurking,
waiting for his chance
to move with utmost
grace toward unsuspecting prey
he wants to
…take his name off of the
Endangered Species list
…so he can say to hell with
the environmentalists
and the tinhorn developers
and their lapdog politicians…
AND
when they are gone
& their carcasses picked to the bone
he’ll call everyone he knows
in North Jersey
and in Brooklyn and in Staten Island
and in Philadelphia
and in Grosse Pointe
and he’ll even call
his cousin Rachel,
that poor lost soul who
hangs her palm frond hat in
Panama City and he’ll
announce that
Panther Valley South is alive
and well — and open for business
and he’ll
charge them just two and a half a grand
on their Visa card
for the down payment
SO
don’t dismiss the experience
lightly
…don’t wait for the 18-hole course
to open sometime in the
spring (someday)
…well maybe, wait for it
but don’t plan for it…

you thought that fucking panther
was endangered
didn’t you…
but he lives

JUST

don’t bother to look for him
among the gators
and the snakes –
get out your binos and look for him just before sunset
that’s when he feeds

…look fast and you’ll spot him,
coming out of the grey, twilight mist,
steaking up I75 North, then
pausing momentarily
at the Alligator Alley
toll plaza, before pointing
his leased BMW west
into the
setting sun
toward
Naples

poem tiff

remember last July in Miami
you – in your Lily Pulitzer dress
me in my Korn t-shirt
cargo shorts and
indigo flip-flops
sitting at a bayside table
…you smoking
like you’d never heard
the news about that
habit
me drinking gin martinis
and both of us
talking about that
poetry reading
in Broward
a couple of weeks before
where the guy with the
glass eye killed it
with that poem

the poem you can’t remember the name of

and you said that it
was the finest poem
that you’d heard in
the past decade
and I said that if
that guy didn’t have a glass eye
that you wouldn’t
have regarded that poem
so highly

so we had a tiff over
the poem
…damn poem tiffs
three quarters of an hour later
the waiter comes back with
our check

saying to me that
my Visa card had been
declined
some days there
is no easy way out.

On Collins Avenue, last week

on Thursday afternoons
Emily drinks vodka gimlets
with a guy
at the Fountainebleu bar

…he’s a b-grade actor
who is 3 times her age
…he’s a ‘has-been’
…a forgotten relic…
with silver hair

…a guy
who has fifty grand
left in the bank,
a guy who has
a cancelled
AmEx Card
in his wallet
and has recently had
his powder blue
Bentley repo’d

…a guy

who has a
house in The Gables
that’s in foreclosure
and a wife in Palm Springs
who is on the move…
and a daughter in Betty Ford
recovering…

…a guy
Emily has ONLY seen
in reruns on cable tv
late at night

…that guy…

but Emily delights

in the fact
that a tourist
from Montreal
walks up
as they finish their

gimlets

and asks b-grade

to sign his cocktail napkin
and then
Montreal tourist asks
b-grade actor
if he’d ever met Pablo Escobar
and asks if he knew
Ronald Reagan
back in the day

and

if he’d ever met
Don Johnson
on the set

old actors die hard
this one smiles politely
drains his gimlet
and signs the napkin.

 

you’re better off

sometimes when you don’t have
a job
to go to in the morning
you’re better off for it…

you say that to yourself

…as long as the 99 Subaru
kicks over and that
landlady from hell
doesn’t show up
in her paisley shorts
and lime green tube top
yelling at you over
the bougainvillea
hedge
saying she thinks
that she
saw you on the News
last night…
…she says you look like
that swindler from
Miami Gardens
who conned a
94 year old widow
out of fifty grand
last week.

Then she says

you are a
deadbeat because
you owe
six hundred twenty five
bucks
payable now…

…but you don’t think anything
of it because
you don’t have a job, and

… you’re better off for it
aren’t you?
as long as you can
make it
to that casino
… on the edge
of the Everglades
just…before dawn
…rolling up with
a 50 in-hand
ready to throw it down
in the high-limit room

two spins and you’re done
now head off
to the 2.99
breakfast buffet

…and you’re better off for it
…aren’t you?
just go home
and stuff your mail
into a neighbor’s box
and tell the guy next door
that you are moving to
Dallas in two weeks
to accept a position
in marketing for an
emerging
startup

THEN

say to yourself

you are better off for
all of this.

My guitar

I bought a guitar

for six bucks

from Santiago

my neighbor from Columbia

who was selling everything

in his overstocked garage

so he could buy a used Hyundai

for his daughter

for her seventeenth birthday

“You need a lawnmower, Sport?”

he yells to me

as I walk my dog past his house

at half past nine on Saturday morning

“such a beautiful machine,”

I shake my head

in terror at the thought

of mowing the goddamned grass

he goes on:

“You need hedge clippers?…three bucks!!

CHEAP…amigo”

fuck the hedge I say to myself

so

I let the dog pee in the bush beside

his house…

then it comes:

“hey…you want paint?”

but I tell him

I hate painting

and I’ve come to like

the lime green paint

that’s peeling off of my house

in strips…

(it’s good for five more years

maybe more)

then he tells me he has:

a Portuguese Bible,

a convection oven,

a five ton floor jack,

a ten ton box

of romance novels,

and a Henry Hill, autographed

ice pick

plus

snow tires for my Subaru

and

the third season of Dallas

on VHS…

then he tells me about

the guitar?

 

so I bought it — for six bucks and I took it home

…the guitar

and for two and a half hours

I sat on the back porch with the dog

and put my bare feet on the railing

and pretended I was Ernest Tubb

singing

Walking the Floor Over You

plucking at the strings with my good hand

until my wife came home

and reminded me

that I don’t

know how to play

the guitar.

 

beach day

oh, you habitual absentee

you flagrant devotee to the sun

to the sand, to the salt air

you – the steadfast student of the

Royal Tern and the Western Sandpiper

who dares to lie about your

mid-day, mid-week

forbidden trysts

upon the sands of Pompano Beach

your face buried in the folds

of your Polar Fleece solar blanket

your golden hair scattered – unfettered

across your bronze, barren shoulders,

your lavender bikini askew and terribly

undone in a lone act of worship

to the Sun god

and you say to me that

the damned Bookshop deserves to be shuttered

because today…

…no one requires another second hand

romance novel by Nora Roberts, nor

Tom Clancy thriller,

nor used-boorish-business-book by

a self absorbed New York

billionaire

nor a moldy volume of earthy poems

by some

sodden old New England poet

nor a slim volume of

waggish verse

penned by a decrepit old beatnik

nor a magazine with prattling

celebrity scuttlebutt –

for

as you tell me so often –

and quite gently

that our days are measured

often in inches

and not in yards.

White curtains

I remember white curtains —

they hang without motion

in the open window

of The Hotel Caribe

as the heat roils up from the concrete

3 floors below

and I think of you —

naked and motionless

and the freedom

that comes from a day

of complete abandon, spent

…you…

AWOL from the MIA gift shop

…and me…

a half dozen hours

before my bar shift begins

at the Fontainebleau

it’s late summer

in Little Haiti

and the housekeeper

is shouting at us

in English (somewhat)

as she bangs on our door

with a mop handle

like she always does

and she says that it’s 1 o’clock

in the AFTERNOON

and we have to leave this place

RIGHT NOW

or she will call lapolis

and I remember how you

laugh at  her

like always

and you say –

30 minutes more

granmoun fanm

and we hear the mop wagon

amid curses

rattle off to the elevator

and we reengage

and  reassess

and point

your lavender painted toes

skyward

and in the end

I press my face

into the pillows that are slightly

scented with a detergent

that remind me

vaguely

of the Rodeway Inn

on the east side of Denver.

On a balmy afternoon in Ft. Lauderdale after the fall

I write:

“the bees from the hive,

won’t come home alive”

I am sitting, knees up

on a chaise lounge

poolside

golf pencil in  hand

writing doggerel poetry

on the back of an envelope

supported by a cocktail menu

that reads (I quote):

Little Ottawa Motel

Your home in The States

The home of the 5 dollar

Dirty Canadian Martini

Tiki bar open till 2AM

Karaoke Saturdays 5 – 7

“they’ve lost their wings,

in a million stings”

it’s four and a half weeks

since Candice went away

to Duluth, to live with

her therapist, Ralph

and 16 days after

Mr. Waters had to be put down

due to a liver condition

and I’d given away

a full box of Kitty-Krunches

and half dozen bags

of Walter Henshaw’s cat nip

to the lady downstairs

with the Siamese

“they’ve buzzed their last,

in a final repast”

a Cuban girl named Debbie

drops a rum and coke off

at my chair and I say to her

that Debbie is not a Cuban name

I demand that she come clean

she smiles, and says if I come back

after 5 she’ll tell me a secret

but she’s full of it – just like my poems

then she takes a ten from me

and walks away toward her next victim

a terribly inflated and bleached

and beached

elderly gentleman

in a lime green thong

“and they now join their brethren,

in insect heaven

I drain the cocktail, then

wad the envelope

poem and all

into a tight ball

drop it into the empty plastic cup

and hail Debbie

for another round.