Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Welcome to Paradise
     For R.F.

It’s glut & the throat
bloat again on this cut

glass morning—sailclouds
jab the wavetops

as we sludge sand
still brimming

from last night’s
buffet: skewered

jumbo shrimp-&-sausage,
fried oysters, fried snapper,

the special tuna inside
mango marmalade.

Because I said I’d try,
but didn’t, the lone tentacle

O-ing from the island
of my bread plate.

All hospitals are named for a saint.

As Ben and I sunned, his grandmother
—barely post-stroke—ate

by the tube in her gut,
bright flowers on the shelf

on her “good side.” “Gorgeous!”

the nurse in her native gold
tone spoke Caribbean hoops.

The brochure read, Welcome to Paradise!

Over dinner, we tried to find decision as the sea voiced-over
           our voices

oily tiki torches illuminating
only us.                                                                       

           We found her
on the floor, who knew

how long she’d been there, her fist
a curling claw.

When I return from the shore, she reaches unexpectedly
for my hand.

Sweet, sweet.
Lauren, Lauren.

The soft-shelled crab’s shell is soft.

Evolution or greasy preparation?

Go ahead, soothe your belly
with some other armor—

devour an animal’s heart,
lick the plate clean.

He went back for seconds
as I tried not to think of the

mercury pool
soaking my precious

middle, me toxic
as the barnacled sponge.

Good, good.

St. Vincent is filled with skepticism.

His halo is a mechanical
scoop glowing metal 

used just to dig the damn thing out.

As a rule, intact eyeballs
on roasted whole fish

are what saveurs spoon

The distant palm trees shrivel.

We stop
before a 10ish boy who wants to show us

his capture: jellyfish
clumped in a yellow castle pail.

“Each one has three separate bodies,”

he brags, the visored heads
of his parents beaming behind him.

“Beautiful,” I go

“But dangerous,” he corrects,
glancing back to the faces.

The button to lift
her bed up

and see the whole arrangement

is marked with a peeling-down

Afforded me  . . .                                                           

           —she starts, unstuck now

           as the eye & the ocean

           narrows & swells—

                       . . .  You have afforded me great pleasure.

The room fills with silence,
with room for nothing else.    

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