Back Down to Paradise

31 Jul

The road runs parallel to the old railroad tracks
for a little while; tracks laid down by sweaty laborers
all of them dead from time and malaria and vicious hurricanes;
then it kind of winks at you and slithers on down,
around the grassy Keys, above them, through them,
like a mischievous child in the summer evening.

I go through little towns, fast, cutting the heavy, humid air
with this dull, steel, silver blade of a sedan.
“Ziggie’s Crab Shack and Oysters.”
“Wild Bill’s Conch Fritters, Fish, and Steaks.”
“Bar, Lounge, Open.”
The signs rush by the open window making swish sounds.
Motorcycles, mopeds, barflys on bicycles, beards and long hair
flapping in the breeze,
and children jumping rope on the side of the road.
Flagler never imagined this.
Or maybe he did.
Magnates always make their fortunes at the hands
of the proletariat.

They paved paradise with black tar
and opened up the floodgates to the businessman, the realtor.
These islands look like Disney World on Quaaludes.
And still the natives turn the cogwheels, keep the machine well-oiled;
still the natives are buying into the dream.
They have to, there is nothing left but mangoes and sunshine
and no man can feed the kids with that for too long.
So add the dangling carrot then.

Slithering around Big Pine and Ohio and Grassy and Shark Key,
watching the herons sunbathe on power lines above the old railroad bridge,
the one over which Hemingway made his trek down here so many times,
racing the pelicans, trying to catch the sun, moving West,
I come to the last island, littered with hotels and restaurants.
Everything is for rent here, except a car with manual transmission.
Where can anyone find that?

“Hey Mister, ya got a buck? No?
Awwww, how am I gonna buy that sailboat?”

There are no more sailboats.
They’ve been gobbled up by rich Midwesterners
with their white, delicate skin and transparent tooth fillings
and their manicures and comfortable bellies and trust funds.
They’re on display now, these fancy schooners, parading up and down,
gliding on calm waters by Mallory Square,
trying to outdo the sunset.

It is all right.
Time, if it exists, will cure everything.
I can outlast royalty, even in death, everything will be forgiven
but not forgotten.
The sailboat will rot and so will its owners,
but there is still whisky raging through the blood, and I am alive with the pelicans
and crocodiles.
I will raise the sails for you and move you through your time
properly and skillfully and honestly.

And in the end I will finish up in the same grave, maybe.
In the same graveyard, for sure; they’re running out of space on this island.
They have to mix the blood of the sinners with the peasants.
In the end, there is no distinction between the two.

In the end, we leave our meager thumb prints in the mud
and we pat ourselves on the back
for creating a plastic civilization.


7 Responses to “Back Down to Paradise”

  1. she 31/07/2007 at 11:19 AM #

    but, but, who would we be without all the carrots and plastic? oh people have no imagination.

    i love this.

  2. Lx 31/07/2007 at 1:02 PM #

    thank you.

  3. Anonymous 31/07/2007 at 1:14 PM #

    “Back Down to Paradise”
    Great contradiction.

  4. slyboots2 31/07/2007 at 2:37 PM #

    Two things:

    A friend with a sailboat said,”Owning a sailboat is like taking a cold shower while tearing up $100 dollar bills.”


    Have you ever seen a decent book of William Eggleston’s photos of the south? Man. There’s something about this post that really evokes his images.

    Well done, old chap! (a tip of the proverbial g & t in your direction- sweaty cold glass and all)

  5. Lx 31/07/2007 at 3:26 PM #

    thanks sly. nope, unfortunately i’ve never heard of eggleston.
    i’ll gladly take a g & t from you; i know you’ll make it right. no house gin, please.

  6. slyboots2 01/08/2007 at 12:36 AM #

    I actually have a big bottle of Bombay in the freezer. Not to worry- never the house gin. Life is too short.

  7. Lx 01/08/2007 at 2:41 PM #

    here’s a tip, if you like gin.
    the ny times did a huge study on
    quality of gins,
    and get this: Seagram’s came in 2nd best!
    it beat out all the fancy schmancy ones we buy.
    seagram’s is what? almost half the price of bombay.
    i’m a convert.

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