This is where the end of the #ThisIsWhere poetry submissions snuck up on us. For weeks we've been awash in a sea of words, poetic descriptions of everything from sunrises to lizards to — in this week's selection — a blessed urinal. And now we've suddenly found ourselves at the far shore, maybe a little wiser, but definitely more compelled to think of things in extended metaphors.
What have we learned? That there are a million ways look at the great and weird place that is South Florida. That a poem can be a prayer, a complaint, an act of sentiment or nostalgia, a joke, or a revelation. That what form a poem takes doesn't matter really, as long as it takes you somewhere.
We hope you enjoy this weeks selections as much as we did.
We look forward to diving in again next year.
by Chris Bergh of Big Pine Key
this is where I hide
from the seeking eyes of other black-clad boys
in the shade of a white concrete crypt
shuddering as the soil stirs
and a cicada nymph hoists itself
up the weathered cross
bursts its earthly hull
unfurls its wings
screaming for his mate
into the same August heat
that once touched old Conchs and young
congregated among the early marble markers
to tuck the Captain’s flesh and bone
down into the riven limestone
a bed for fossils of the antique sea
that built these Keys
and then begat this thin and salty loam
The where: Key West Cemetery
by Stephen Schaurer of Miami
O, O, O, Miami
I should have used the men's room
before I left the restaurant
where we sipped cocktails in glasses
as big as lampshades,
and now, a few blocks up Ocean Drive
through a flow of torches and tables,
this is where I ask a drag queen
for the nearest restroom.
She tells me she's Geraldine, Queen of South Beach,
as she takes my hand, pulls me into the pulsating neon,
down a corridor where she gentles me through a door—
a unisex powder room with a urinal, thank god,
and I could just kiss her, but I don't.
The where: A bar and grill on Ocean Drive, South Beach
by C.M. Clark of Miami
They fall oblique. The head’s pin tufts bobbing. They
fall rough. Could be buffalo scruff, this
duck baby down. They are alien meat. Perpendicular,
the wing joints conniving in emerald or aqua, splaying
a murky diet of mindless plankton,
algae sunbathing upstream. This
is where water takes shape, the creaturely mass
setting up housekeeping, canal flow
engineered to massage something
ungovernable. Living perched
on oolitic limestone, we wait
the sea’s slouch upland. This
is where we risk joining fluid
and feather. Flesh and fur. Taking our chances.
The where: The C100A Canal in South Dade
End of the Road
by Chris Todd of Big Pine Key
This is where
He ran me to ground
This is where
He cornered me
This is where I kneeled
And hands were laid on me
And prayers were said
And vows were taken
And bread was broken
And wine was shared
And a new life began
This is where each Spring
We meet in the dark
And greet the risen sun
And greet the risen Son
And break the bread
And drink the wine
And thank him for the death
And thank him for the life
And thank him
The where: On the water at Big Pine Key
Jaime Rodriguez of Pompano Beach
He caught the 99 east, towards the Aventura mall, during roll call.
Nike sweatshirt, headphones, Lebron without the basketball.
He thought the hoodie, would protect him from dude.
But in class, Hoodies are suspected and pursued.
Since Arizona, was chopped and screwed.
Only empty bags of skittles residue.
Why are you following me, suspicious activity?
Zero policy shot 10 days through his chest cavity.
THIS IS WHERE you got me.
The where: County Line Road in Miami, where Trayvon walked.
by Judith Rybicki in Miami Beach
Ahhhhhhhh Mr. Can Man
6 huge bags of crushed cans on his bike trolley,
“Hey Mr. Can Man lighten your load,”
213 lbs of crushed cans, crushed cans,
This is where I heard him at midnight 5th and Ocean,
alarms, screams, hip hop and the crush,
I peeked out from my window there he was,
crush, crush, crush, crush,
what five miles to cash it in?
213 lbs of crushed cans, crushed cans
$90 not bad for 2 weeks work,
Hola Ramon da me un coco frio,
Aye Linda, si, si, si!
The where: Lummus Park
Manuel Ortega of Miami
This is where my life started
nine years after it began
January 21, 1971 Miami, Fl.
On my first day of life
I was taken to a small Super Mercado,
apples, that’s what I remember,
apples, red, green, yellow apples,
hundreds of them,
too many to eat all at once.
Where does life begin?
Is it with the first taste of forbidden fruit?
For hours without end under the hot Cuban sun
the bearded one spoke of forbidden fruit
and the more he spoke, the more we wanted it.
January 21, 1971 Miami, Fl.
I tasted forbidden fruit for the first time,
and I thought,
this must be paradise.
The where: A Miami Super Mercado
by Rebecca Springer of Boca Raton
Maximum daily withdrawal $200.
I feel like a thief, certain that the security cameras are recording my nervousness, "That's not her money!" "Why is she here every morning?"
Thank goodness your password was obvious.
I can't believe I just came from the hospital morgue. This is where I get to see you last?
The where: Unknown
by Lindsay Koehler of Fort Lauderdale
The Everglades even swallows up the buzz of two engines.
Chalky dust billows behind the first rider.
Leaves slap visors if you get too close.
The heat and tricky ruts make the narrow road all-consuming.
This is where the black dog that was not quite a dog:
Loped out from the slough,
Shared the road for a few bounds,
Melted back into the brush.
Took little notice of the motorcyclists whose reality was exploding.
We tried to share
The tale of Our Bear;
Nobody was impressed.
The where: Jane's Scenic Drive
by Alex Symington of Key West
The Dalai Lama could be my compadre
The Buddha would smile on the two of us
We could sit out in front of Five Brothers
And drink Cuban coffee and laugh
His Holiness loves to laugh
But Shel, this presumption…
My one-sided dialogue…
It has been in my head since you died
We didn't meet, but this is where we would be friends
Key West, our town
You and I would talk about politics and pirates
We would joke about conch royalty and cuss
You would be shirtless and grinning
I would be happy you were my friend
The where: Five Brothers in Key West
by Amanda Valdespino of Miami
We are told to hold a rope that will lead us to a campfire,
And my fingers cling to every fiber of braided nylon.
And in my mind I can hear the soft steps of a deer,
The wings of an ibis rustle,
The whiskers of a panther twitch
Nearby. I bump into my fellow classmates,
See their silhouettes shudder with each unfamiliar noise
And feel our backs bump as if dominoes;
And I sigh. This is where
I just want lamplights, busy highways and blinking gas prices.
I don’t want to look up at the stars, I want tall buildings.
With Grey Goose billboard ads pressed against the side,
Yet now I imagine alligators grinning in the dark,
And I realize in the dark I hear nothing at all.
The where: Unknown