Famous/Infamous
FROM A TOWN NEAR AN OCEAN

The beach is wide and white and the ocean is so loud.
Some birds screech as they pick at a big dead fish,
as their sharp beaks pierce gleaming gray entrails.

The Germans are drunk and have gone from beer hall
gaiety to haunting, maudlin songs. And they are crab red
by now in the strong sun. Iíd say second-degree burns.
Iím not much better off. My skin washed off in the shower.

The jelly fish are tiny. Thereís only pain for a few minutes
after the stinging. And then thereís men on the beach
selling Coke and Coronas, cold. Others sell statuettes of holy
victims complete with all the wounds, realistic and poignant.
A little girl licks a wooden figure nailed to a small cross
as a woman, possibly her mother, pats the girlís sparse hair.

A limping man sells flowers, red, and I recall the shooting in Texas,
the spray of roses on the back seat of the limousine,
the blood smeared on the widowís pink skirt.

I go back to the village. Rainbows squirm in oily puddles.
Contented guards with M-16s laugh as they patrol
the periphery of the jail. An iguana balances on a strand
of barbed wire, scanning. The guards twirl their rifles and smirk.

I didnít see who hit me in the mouth last night. Maybe
it was something about that woman at the table
nearby, her invitations, her insinuations, her movements
to slow dance music, her shiny legs. My lip was split.
I worried about bugs, infection.

But the emergency room was crowded with shivering children,
bent old women, and workers with blood on their knees.
Blood on their faces. A throng of nurses crowded around victims
of a big wreck lined up on squeaky old gurneys.
I left without treatment. The lip will heal.

I saw the news. Nixon waving from that helicopter.
Gone. Good. The western sky is rosy tonight.


Copyright 2006,  Robin Lindley

Robin Lindley was born in Spokane, Washington. His drawings and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and books. He has history and law degrees from the University of Washington. Robin has worked as a railroad laborer, library assistant, public health analyst, law teacher, government attorney, and attorney-investigator with a congressional investigating committee. He is now a writer and visual artist in Seattle, where he lives with his wife.

 


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