I / Morning
The captain buys gasoline and bait
and ice and the Sunday New York Times
and sits himself down on his fighting chair to wait
for a charter he knows damn well
will be good and late.
How do, Jim? He starts up and looks
like someone caught reading something obscene
but it’s only the Sunday Review of Books.
The rims of his Ray-Bans are silver
as 15-O marlin hooks.
No worries. He checks down the dock,
up it and down it, just Sunday morning,
nothing to go to church about, no shock
of an asteroid one day away,
just the tick of the clock.
He looks up again as a car
turns off Roosevelt towards him, real slow,
then drives past. So Fuck it he lights a cigar,
has a six-pack on ice in the galley
and a girl in the Green Parrot bar.
II / Afternoon
Along the street
Cubans in sea-green denim
lounge and sweat. A battered Ford
is slewed on the sidewalk
like a lobster pot; its radio
sparks the air with nylon static.
Petronia Street: the washing hangs
and rots. The stray cats hiss
and arch their backs and sniff
at wire-screened windows locked
against the heat. The lifers scratch
their balls and check
the jai alai scores. O Caro Mio
crackles in lace-trimmed lycra,
sweats and screams.
III / Evening
Miss Margharita turns her chair
to let the sunshine dry her hair.
The kids ain’t home but she don’t care
- they probably gone fishin’.
What sunshine’s left is filtered through
the palm trees on the avenue,
but what ain’t much will have to do,
and what’s the use of wishin’?
Wishin’s wished we owned a store,
a nothin’ fancy sawdust floor,
with flush-tight fly screens on the door
and whitewash on the ceilin’.
Just take a look across the street:
Miguel’s as dumb as sugar’s sweet;
Consuela don’t know twit from tweet
- they don’t have paintwork peelin’.
Miss Margharita strips a can
and waves the ring-pull like a fan.
The sun’s gone down; the moon’s a man
- but what’s the use of wishin’?
Born in London, Michael Paul Hogan is a poet, journalist and literary essayist whose work has appeared extensively in the USA, UK, India and China. His poetry has been featured in over thirty magazines and in six collections, the most recent of which, Chinese Bolero, with illustrations by the great contemporary painter Li Bin, was published in 2015.