Wintering With Persephone


After 2 1/2 years, I am back in South Florida with all the old retirees
and grizzly Sykos, the bath-salt addicts and transients, grass-smugglers,
purse-snatchers, condo commandos, sewer rats
disguised as pump-and-dump telemarketers. “Once you get south of Lake
O, it’s the big fuck-me show,” said Hugh Jass, 42, a crouton manufacturer
operating from an asbestos shed on Gun Club Road.

And you can’t really say much has changed in the Sunshine State.
The God Houses on Federal Hwy still look like they were built
from the ruins of abandoned Pizza Huts.
And every fuel-efficient compact car on the road is piloted
by some pissed-off French-Canadian with false
hair and a trunkful of second-hand baby supplies.
And The Eagles, and Warhorse, and Firefall, and Procol Harum, and Mungo Jerry
are still doing their tired old rounds on the radio.
And Bono still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.
And Gene Gregortis, 21, arrested
for stealing a tanning bed out of Buzz’s Feed Barn in Pahokee.
And I’m not even gonna mention the fruit-sellers in Hialeah Gardens,
or the ceremonial voodoo outfit
Jim Valvis bought from the clearance rack at Mervyn’s.

We were sharing a bowl of fishhead stew at St. Jacques Botanica
when in walked Wong Valdés, a Cuban-Chinese
stumpgrinder, wanted on Isla de la Juventud for aggravated mopery
and failure to disappear. “Academics can suck my balls!”
he shouted. “Most of those people
couldn’t run a whorehouse next to an army base…” To which the maître d’
said something about limon
and Acheron’s rising shores,
and we went down in the salt-tombs,
and there was a Bahamian bearing a tiki-torch,
and Orpheus singing punto guajiro over a pit of alligators,
and I was drinking carbombs with an out-of-work exterminator named Freddie Bugs.
“They’s nut’n worse,”
he was saying, “than bein’ wit a woman and hearin’ her say
‘I’m bored… let’s do something.’
All the while, you are doing somethin’,
be it readin’ the paper, watchin’ TV, or jes ignorin’ her.”

Yet if all it takes is Demeter’s lithe hand to lift me out of this,
I can’t protest.
I’ll be in Berlin as soon as the trees start putting on their leaves again.
And in the meantime, I’ve got a polespear and floatline for Kingfish,
white sands, the shade of a coconut palm,
and the cloudbanks glide over the green Caribbean sea.