Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 1
The gypsies have come to town,
parked their trailers and RVs
in a vacant field
down by the gas works,
strung clothes lines between the hulks,
hung their wash to dry --
scarlet, purple, gold, royal blue,
even black and white
fluttering prayer flags
in the salty, tropical air.
A disheveled crone hunches
over the stub of a cigarette
in the open door
of her rusted teardrop trailer,
behind her, in the shadows,
an elaborate altar to the Virgin,
votive candles, plastic roses,
and Mary, serene, eyes cast down,
blue cape flowing around her.
Unfiltered halos of Marlboro smoke
mingle with sweet incense.
Somewhere someone plays a guitar softly,
a tea kettle whistles. Two little boys
run barefoot toward the harbor.
The gypsies have returned
bringing my fortune with them.
Big Brown Belly
Mr. Big Brown Belly
sips a can of Bud Light
out of a brown paper bag,
balances on the railing
by the Salvation Army Thrift Store,
sizing up strolling tourists and locals,
deciding, between swigs,
who would be good for a handout,
a buck for another beer.
Warm tonight -- no shirt,
his enormous belly, brown,
smooth as polished koa wood,
a nine-month protuberance
hanging over the top of his dirty jeans.
"Spare change?" he asks,
looking sweetly at the
respectable Midwestern couple
in matching Aloha outfits loud with Hibiscus.
They ignore him, he's not their idea of Paradise,
consult their maps and continue toward the park,
which, after dark, is full of men like him.
Mr. John Chase,
gray of hair, gray of face,
wrapped in rags,
swollen feet, across the street
Mr. John Chase
inches along, his walker four-prong,
nails thick and black, so curved
I want to clip them off,
but I don't scoff at him
as he stumbles along.
Mr. John Chase
died years ago, yet still appears
in the creekside bushes and has for years
since he came home from war
and wasn't anymore the man he'd been.
That's our sin, not his.
He hobbles along toward his final night.
It isn't fair, it isn't right. He goes slowly.