(reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin)
in memory of John Stephen Reece
Down here, the sun clings to the earth and there
is no darkness.
All night, Dolores labors between the sea grapes
and the empty park.
The teenage boy locks his door and combs the obscene
The Cape Sable seaside sparrows’ population
dropped 25 percent. Females are
Gay waiters examine their haircuts in the mirrors.
Juan escapes from our prison; he duct-tapes Playboy magazines
to his rib cage.
Egas Moniz wins the Nobel Prize in 1949 for pioneering
The hairdresser measures his delicate architecture.
Dolores teases her blond hair a foot in the air,
her hair the one perfection
Consider the teenage boy again. His locked room is
a diorama of loneliness.
Weather. Weather. How’s the weather?
Juan sinks into the swamp thick with processed excrement.
The men in the gym slow down their repetitions, their
biceps grow; they are silent
All this beauty. Butterflies at the ankles. Birds,
Elizabeth Bishop was five when her mother went mad.
The men on death row are gathering in their silence,
not unlike the Miccosukee
The black prison guards shoot bullets into the dark
and swear at Juan.
Tonight the gym fills with strong male groans.
I keep vigil by the light of my 6o-watt bulb.
Long ago my cousin was murdered, drowned in a river
in St. Augustine.
In the summer, there is heat, silence and no people.
This is the weather of
When Elizabeth Bishop lived in Key West the sea breeze
brushed her with peace.
Even at Christmas, hornets hiss in the kiss of the
I hear Juan drown in the night, his mouth stuffed
When I come out at last from the dark I am committed.
At dawn the pelican spears the sea spastically.
Bethesda-by-the-Sea cools with the gossip of the
Florida is a frontier built by escapees.
Philomela held her cut tongue in her hand like a
In Lantana, at night, the 1950s pink tubercular sanatorium
glows with florescence.
When I came to this place I had nothing of the past,
no photo albums, nothing.
That night my cousin must have been scared, surrounded
by the muscles of men.
I press on the keys of the typewriter attempting
to record all those lost and
The Haitian ladies throw back their regal heads and
move down the sidewalks slow
Alligators swallow the summer light. The thick grass
eats the sidewalk.
Robert Fitzroy, the father of weather forecasting,
slit his throat with a razor.
In a room, in an institution, I was. Behind me, a
window with rain.
Lantana, where I live, is home to the National
One year I lived in a Moorish hacienda, built in
1924. The walls were two feet thick.
In the bluish purple bruise of dawn, Dolores watches
weather on TV channeled
Waves open and close like doors between these islands
At night I hear the electric chair whir.
In the store there was a man who was more beautiful
than his wife.
Easter in Palm Beach and at the Everglades Club the
ladies sit before lemon tarts
When the 1928 hurricane came it had no name.
It was dark and my cousin was alone. They dragged
him to the river.
In church we hear the jungle growing to meet the
Florida has no memory besides the monarch butterflies
who remember everything.
When the last day of summer comes, the locals walk
home wistful, discounted.