Each week at #ThisIsWhere we try to avoid having a theme. But they just keep happening anyway.
It's oddly organic. With no larger agenda in mind, you pick out what you think are the ten best poems from the recent submissions. You read them over, and suddenly, like storm clouds parting, there it is: a theme.
Last week it was Miami Traffic Poetry.
This week it is the Unobvious Thing.
Sometimes the Unobvious Thing makes itself clear midway through a poem. (See Scott Fiore's "The Wall" or Stelios Serdenes "The Hatching".)
Sometimes it lurks at the edge of the reader's perception and never fully reveals itself. (See Jaime Rodriguez poem about the Convenant House, or Ms. Rudy D's poem about Tap Tap.)
But the Unobvious Thing always brings some resonance and mystery. It always keeps you thinking.
The one thing we can be sure of in all this: #ThisIsWhere is a joint project of the O, Miami Poetry Festival, WLRN, and the poets of South Florida.
If you would like to submit a poem, go here.
by Steve Pollack of Miami
Heaven had one thousand, two hundred sixty-five
All the icy air you could breathe and a magical screen
More vast than a South Florida summer
Then, a shortage of angels,
When they, those bastards, cut heaven in two
The twinning struck like hell fire in 1983
Down the middle of the 163rd Street Theater
In a misnamed suburb, neither North Miami nor Beach
This is where they downsized Hollywood dreams
The where: 163rd Street Theatre, North Miami Beach
Cuba & Miami: A Love Story
by Adrian Cárdenas of Hialeah
This is where the kiss is longer,
where I create a narrative that’s otherwise:
Mima and Pipo walk to our house to speak to us
about their sex life, making my mother and me
laugh. They sit on the rocking chairs next to the window
and he squeezes her thigh. Para, Miguel! a coy smile follows.
¿Que? he responds. My father waves at them
from the garden; they wave back. Everyone has moved on.
The where: Miami Lakes
by Elizabeth Coale of Miami
The old guy called me chicken legs in front of the apples
He said it to my face, but in Spanish so I wouldn’t know it
Except I had a translator.
Then I tried to buy this dessert thing
Quiere ese en una bolsa?
I didn’t understand the cashier
Because Diego went back to the car.
So I said ‘que’ because I know it means what.
This is where I came to get 99¢ manzanas
And experience another culture
But instead the cashier’s glaring
At this stupid white girl. I think next time,
I’ll just go to Walmart.
The where: A food store on Flagler
by Jaime Rodriguez of Pompano Beach
A Ministry of Availability from a tenement on Seventh.
Tigers and lambs, isn't that right Reverend.
Lighters and cans, and an AIDS epidemic.
They would only release me to the Cuv., in the care of, for the remainder of.
But, THIS IS WHERE it was.
Breakers and Vista Mar, the Sand Castle Motel.
Takers with, Kids in cars, the Boys Wont tell.
But, The smell, Salt to Sulfur, Where Lucifer Fell.
Lost and Sober, on the Harbors of Mariel.
The where: The Covenent House in Fort Lauderdale
by Scott Fiore of Fort lauderdale
The cracking glass would eventually shatter and resonate to the sleeping,
Metal was easily impressed, but emitted a faint, tolling bell.
Wood, organic, cushioned, but created splinters and a thud.
Sand catches delicately, but slowly covers.
Feathers would only engulf, silently, forever.
This is where I found my wall.
The where: Dania Jai Alai
by Katharine Doughty of Key West
This is where I will grow up I knew somehow
on this one block one way bookended by justice,
gutted at the corner of happy and healthy.
There, perpendicular, gaze trained on Mile Zero, I would drink,
partly because I like to watch the light changing.
Here a restaurant, fetish shop, nightclub, guest house gone straight,
Lawyers, artists, homeless, one seasoned sailor, and chickens
feed on Spanish Lime and Mangos that fall into the street.
This is the parking lot of the revolution.
Lady Ylang Ylang shakes her tresses into the night air
There are 100 mermaids sleeping under my bed,
Klezmer music outside the window at 2am.
Is this where, stumbling home, Hemingway rested?
Are these those baby shoes I found in the trash or my own?
The where: Appelrouth Lane in Key West
Stelios Serdenes of Hollywood
Between Oak & Elm,
Two tree-streets visited by Apollo
Long before they were named.
Golden sands, Calypso’s favorite.
On a cool September midnight,
After the departure nearby
Of a roaring jet going south,
Two big, black raisins pop out,
Ready for a long voyage
To the opposite direction,
On top of a loggerhead.
This is where the beautiful
Birth of a Caretta-Caretta
Can be experienced.
The where: North Hollywood Beach
By Ms. Rudy D of Miami Beach
my American man eager to please I took him
colors collide while Caribbean jazz plays kissed by the sun
we get the usual
sauce pwa, mais moulin, fish, rum
on the way home in his long black car
he touches me freely with pride
Did you feel the bass player's burning stare?
He loves you.
one year later
this is where I was married
The where: Tap Tap in Miami Beach
Serafima Fedorova of Miami Beach
This is where a man
stepped on a manatee
and died of a heart attack.
His obituary might be
written in Spanglish
next to an ad for a strip club.
And the tourists won’t know
that he was found naked,
straddling the ocean,
waterlogged like gossip columns
bloated like the yellow pages.
We will mourn him
in the burnt coffee of Monday.
We will bury him
in the smoke of our fathers' cigars.
The where: Unknown
Salt Silence/Silencio Salado
By Cesar Omar Cortes Montes of Hallandale Beach
This is where the beach opens its sand arms
to confess that my heart should be in the hands of the sea.
In the distance I hear the cars running fast along Ocean drive
fleeing from the sun, seeking shade to rest.
This is Hallandale beach,
this is where the silence is another way of talking
and where I prefer Keep this silence to say the things that I can not say
those words that are daughters of death and fear.
In this beach my silence is worth more than all the treasures
by shipwrecked men in a time without time.
On this beach I translate the language of the wind
and again I feel alive, terribly awake.
Aquí es donde la playa abre sus brazos de arena
para confesarme que mi corazón cabe en las manos del mar.
A lo lejos escucho a los autos que corren veloces por Ocean drive
huyendo del sol, buscando una sombra para descansar.
Esto es Hallandale beach,
aquí es donde el silencio es otra forma de hablar
y en donde prefiero callar
para decir las cosas que no puedo decir:
esas palabras que son hijas de la muerte y del miedo.
En esta playa mi silencio vale más que todos los tesoros
por los que hombres naufragaron en un tiempo sin tiempo.
En esta playa traduzco el idioma del viento
y vuelvo a sentirme vivo, terriblemente despierto.
The where: Hallandale Beach