The moon’s a doubloon over the bay where we live in our houseboat. Bunny razzes
I’m a busboy on account of my black moustache, because of my cowlick and skin coat,
because my name, she knows, is Sergio Al-Ekaterinoslav, but I say,
I’m no busboy, Bunny, I’m a yachtsman. She says, Somos mismos, sailor, when we’re
necking in the blue shade of the blue tarp bluing the deck, seeming inveterate
as market forces, unassailable there as the Federal Reserve. Still, I
tell her I bathed as a tyke in floodplains outside Jalandhar and stewed later in
tenement flats and thought once of drinking from a rifle. Life frightened me, Bunny,
but now my day labors are ended, all my water buffalo are in escrow,
my laundries automated and taxi cabs dispatched, I’m the crack proprietor
of seventy-six motels between here and Virginia. Now I get paid, I get
paid, and get laid, which isn’t alien to the arc welder, the cocktail server,
or stone mason, to the lavaplatos, dhobi whalla, or gunnery sergeant
second class, but what they call a mountain in the valley, Bunny, we call a hill
on the mountain. What they call a prayer in their temple is an algorithm
in our commodities exchange. Better a loose tycoon, I say, than the wick in
a worker’s lantern. Better a natty cummerbund for a tool belt, our wine flutes
sweating in a tuxedo heat. Better not bother conserving our resources
for the next life. This is the next life! she says. No reckoning is coming. No,
only New Year’s is coming and Oscar night and Derby Day and the balloon-drop
ballyhoo of the delegate conventions I’ll do up dashing in linen suits
and pocket squares, in blazers and chinos. I’ll pass dapper as a Dixie lawyer.
If anybody asks, Where is he from? Bunny, tell her Baton Rouge, or say South
Carolina. If anybody asks, Where’s he really from? meaning the Rangoon
Nebula, meaning the seventh moon of Guadalajara or the ice planet
Karachi, tell him I come in peace or I pledge allegiance. Tell him, those tyrants
beat their keep tonight, and widows wail in wilds where the nascent widows wail, but I
let Allah triage the bodies in his Red Crescent stations, let Abraham play
arbiter, Jesus raise the dead, I’m not a tyrant, Bunny, I’m a citizen,
that land is their land, I lie with you now on the bay in our houseboat I dream in
English, algorithm, algorithm, let no cussing widow wail at me.
Jaswinder Bolina is the author of Phantom Camera, winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize in Poetry from New Issues Press, and Carrier Wave, winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry. He teaches in the M.F.A. program at the University of Miami.
Image from Flickr via Kimb0lene.