Port of Spain
Midsummer stretches before me with a cat's yawn.
Trees with dust on their lips, cars melting down
in a furnace. Heat staggers the drifting mongrels.
The capitol has been repainted rose, the rails
round the parks the colour of rusting blood;
Junta and coup d'etat, the newest Latino mood,
broods on the balcony. Monotonous lurid bushes
brush the damp air with the ideograms of buzzards
over the Chinese groceries. The oven alleys stifle
where mournful tailors peer over old machines
stitching June and July together seamlessly,
and one waits for lightning as the armed sentry
hopes in boredom for the crack of a rifle -
but I feed on its dust, its ordinariness,
on the inertia that fills its exiles with horror,
on the dust over the hills with their orange lights,
even on the pilot light in the reeking harbour
that turns like a police car's. The terror
is local, at least. Like the magnolia's whorish whiff.
And the dog barks of the revolution crying wolf.
The moon shines like a lost button;
the black water stinks under the sodium lights on
the wharf. The night is turned on as firmly
as a switch, dishes clatter behind bright windows,
I walk along the walls with occasional shadows
that say nothing. Sometimes, in narrow doors
there are old men playing the same quiet games -
cards, draughts, dominoes. I give them names.
The night is companionable, the day is as fierce as
our human future anywhere. I can understand
Borges's blind love of Buenos Aires,
how a man feels the veins of a city swell in his hand.