Saturday, March 5, 2016

Costa Rica Suite

At the Airport
Delayed between Guatemalan hair
and El Salvadoran sadness,
a friendly voice warns "don't leave your language
unattended", as children at midnight
hold eyeless bears, and women bear
unbearable grievances, and men, unable to be authentic,
still talk a good casino at the Sea Legs Café,
where they play private LA beats
above the din of rolling rrr’s
of those trying to please or be pleased.
No one is doing what they want to be doing
but they all are doing something just the same:
drawing rainbows, sharing earbuds,
working out the fantasy of world integration in one's mind,
tossing tissues at outstretched hands,
explaining the travail of life in a yellow cowboy hat,
shaking a thick mane of hair, grabbing empty
packets to place in his one-piece PJ pockets.

Arrival
The crystal light floats across San Jose at night,
shimmers with a code higher entities understand
and squirrels on the ground bow in honor to,
but it seems to us like pretty lights,
how they almost gasp for breath
in the swirl on the surface of the world
swallowing the houses.

The Meaning of La Pura Vida
God gave Costa Ricans the land
He was keeping for Himself
because they had such a pure heart.
A man in a wheelchair
in front of a home without windows
smiles.

Tribute to the Other Brother
He holds a musket and a bouquet
by Alaheula cathedral
strung, like the blue schools,
billboards and bazaars, with razor wire.
It’s an economic miracle
of indigenous eviction
and farmers abusing oxen for tourist photos
holding machetes saying "pura vida".
Pigeons are free at least to move
in the fountains of Mango Park.

The Only Thing More Depressing than Poverty Is Trying to Sell the Virtues of Poverty
A grey afternoon in San Jose,
everyone is waiting:
for a customer, a bus, a meal.
Each shuffles in a private hell
that glows in Spanish neon
like the shoes hung on the walls
in the "Total Liquidation" Zapateria.
There's nothing between a head
and the polished floors here,
barred doors make some other world
seem hopeless, where one is free
from lords and mercenaries,
the great white culling,
the prison wire like theatre lights
for the tour bus to look down on
with equivalent despair.

At the Coffee Plantation
To be a blue butterfly
and float through paradise
drunk on hibiscus and banana,
reward for a life spent
on the streets of San Juan.

Looking for Monkeys
Behind the veil, a bouncing bough,
the monkey’s white eyes hide.
We hear him cry, through mists of sky
and think of pride, the monkey's eye
we see looking as he hides behind the veil.
Then he swings outside
to find himself a king.

At the Volcano Pool
The smell of sulfur,
the boy said, is
“Indians making omelettes
when someone dies.”
The vulcanologists say
there's nothing to fear,
the earth moves every day
and every day some people die
but be careful of the sulfur,
it can kill you.
Wherever there are volcanos,
there are silly adults the children have to save.

Beyond the Mustard Cliffs
The steam speaks secret poetry
then clears to blue cerulean
and the fairies we can't see
are mirrored in the lake
like time-lapse moons,
and in a flash the density of grey
rolls over again like a thick, thick sheet
on closing eyes.

Rain Forest Voices
Even the elephant ears
have been nibbled down to stems
yet a squirrel makes the fern tongue flap
and a voice resounds in thunder
but I only hear an insect
no larger than a whisper:
"what to write."

Above Eye Level
In plastic trees
a spider weaves gold galaxies from its black hole
for the Gods who do not know they roam the earth.

By the Candy Store
A woman licks an ice-cream cone
the same pink as her lip gloss
while strolling through a high-end mall
where marching bands plays Christmas songs
with drummer boys in white face
and gingerbread men on stilts
backed by six white sousaphones
and is horrifically depressed.

The Farm of the Happy Cows
They listen to Bach
and graze by hydrangeas
on flower cloud hillsides.

Birds in Captivity
Caged parrots with their broken wings withhold from us their song.
The grey owl wants no pictures, until we move along.
The ostrich thinks that she's in charge, scared eyes move side to side.
The emu thinks she's beautiful, knows everyone has lied.

The peacock turns her plumes like car show models spin around.
The crested guan Camaro cools his pompadour surround.
The conure nest in dead tree milk, to sing their songs of life.
Great curassow, huge grieving eyes, comb scythed as by a knife.

The spoonbill tries to hide in trees, but he, alas, is pink.
The boat-billed heron disappears, emerges in a blink.
The ibis sits on bamboo as from Egypt we remember.
The cormorant unshackled looks with black wings to the future.

R2D2 bleep, then a high-pitched radio shriek,
The green toucan learned who he is after breaking off his beak.
The mangrove swallow, white-necked stilt, tanagers say nothing,
The purple gallinule just let its colors do the talking.

Snowy egret question mark neck leans down from wet roots
Of walking palm to beak an eel, a honeycreeper flutes,
And hummingbirds share love with blooms, they float instead of fly
Until another pulls them off to greater love up in the sky.

On the River
A piano bird spreads its macabre wings
as it grapples with the implications
of a bare tree in the green river
then, without apparent consultation, dives
to dance like a snake charmed neck above water
to melodies of snook and tarpon.

At the Oxen Torture Center
Before the coffee was planted,
before the impossible train to the sea was built
there were oxen drooling, pulling brown men's burdens
up and down the mountains, hoping to survive
through constant work.
Now an empty ox-cart
painted with red parrots
is the symbol of the working man
whose back remains unbroken
though his whip is old and frayed.

Along the Universal Country Road
Men sit on benches outside of Soda Willie
where bags of onions and bananas hang down
as if to impress Soda Lily.

Costa Rica’s Mystery
Perfect stone spheres
too buried to be found
and heavy to be moved
until the Gods had been replaced
by man’s machines
-- you know the story –
some signal to above,
receiver from below,
there are these patterns
but they don't know,
the science and the history
still erased.

Resort Living
One gets bored with bathrooms fit for Louis Quatorze
by cabana bars where mint and rum, Brazilian
new age jazz and rave are mixed
for the precise predilections of mojito-sipping swingers
from the far side of suburbia, who hold the world's
sum knowledge in their phone’s chip,
as they stroll a Spanish mission for the God of hedonism,
where umber floors are sparkle cleaned by someone who’s invisible…
until one’s dealt the playing cards beneath the palm-leaf fan.
The numbers never cease to amaze.

In Guanacasta
"Welcome," said the boarded up shed
cotton-candy pink, Esmerelda Poett's
Lost Iguana Hotel, Macrobiotica, Microcervezia,
Eco-boutique, Ferreteria, Discomovil and internet café.
She offers us 12 New Year's Eve grapes and Coyol wine,
so we'll be drunk again the next day with the sun,
and a taboret beneath the ear tree, symbol of equilibrium.
Just be careful of the duck police, the vicious
beaches, the cold killer eyes of ennui
on the crocodile uncomfortable in its own leather.
We're the largest exporter of coffins,
she, finally, excitedly said.

Rain Forest Notes
Everything moves but the waterfall,
the green that can't stop growing,
yearning to the condition of sky.

Red crabs on the forest floor,
torch ginger and bitterwood blooms
like specks of blood in the beard of life.

A sloth on a branch top stares at the blue,
the canopy swings its hairy air roots,
the distant marimba of monkey music.

Above it all, in endless sky, 
vultures circle like the forest flow,
black in the mid-day sun.

Conclusion
The history of this place,
of warring white men's
hungers
and alcoholic despots
who kept the people fed,
seems to have changed
everything on the maps,
in the books,
in the mind,
but not, oh no,
never could,
on the ground.

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