Mass at the Casa de Brigidas
The priest waved his hands
as though each of seventy-some parents
to his adept
and mobile fingers
Not a grunt
but a silent
lucky if they
even hear us!
as you respect God, Creator…”
the snares and dangers
–drugs and sex drives,
car wrecks, bomb threats–
He in His wisdom…”
upon adults by definition
but inside still really children
trying to cope
with angry spouses,
friends in trouble,
stock fraud coupes
here to gain Eternal…”
picking at guimpes’
Twisted on the cross
Christ, the martyr,
gazing past revolving fans
as we, the parents,
that we love them…”
and are loved
a little in return.
Beige curtains twisted into dancing shapes
as real as dreams. I rose, watching as they
seemed to touch, then part, then spin slowly
back to touch, fingertip to fingertip, again.
Rhythms floated in and faded as I crossed
the room to gaze towards sailboats anchored
in the bay. Come with me! Elaine once whispered
as we’d danced across a jetty. Pulled off our clothes.
Plunged into currents swirling alongshore.
Clasped each other’s bodies quivering from cold.
A truck edged past, its headlights flickering
across the fronts of dormant stores. Now get me warm!
she’d laughed and run and tripped. Rolled over.
Held me, shivering, as we’d surged past instant wanting
into places where the sea and sky were one.
Then rose, exhausted, strangers brushing sand
from heated bodies, trying to laugh
and walk back to the jetty, talk: My God!
We’re silly! I still feel like you’re inside me!
No thoughts then of schedules, children,
just the beach and palms and jetty.
Again I felt the wind assault our wetness.
Felt her fingers touch, then separate from mine.
Stranger in the Coffee Shop
to greet me
aside the danger
of too quick
a smile. The
her lips. “Odd
Sure.” She runs
to get a cup.
The cook peers
through a crack
above the grill,
a stack of pancakes
in his hand. An old
man coughs. “More
butter please.” I sip
my coffee, read
the paper as they nod
into safety, all being right
in their small world.
In the vacant lot down the hill
the leaves are turning yellow
and the long stalks of the sunflowers
have cracked and fallen.
Tiny butterflies—some black, some white—
flit through brambled summer growth,
brown and barren instead of lush and green.
A lone dove pecks at particles of seeds
beneath a tangled mat of inert vines
and the wind
makes rustling sounds.
A man with an atrophied arm pushes
a bicycle vending cart
down the gravel roadway
calling to vacant houses
that he has corn for sale.
Boatman in the Jungle
Hunched like a hewn
He listens to the water
lisp its power
His nerves the rhythm of an engine,
eyes the function
Of trick whirlpools, currents,
knowing beauty as a deck’s thin knife
that dissects green.
Robert Joe Stout is a journalist living in Oaxaca, Mexico, who has contributed nonfiction, fiction and poetry to a wide variety of publications. Much of his writing is focused on social and political themes involving people and events, present and past, that affect the United States and country in which he resides.