Port of call: San Juan, Puerto Rico
The black iridescent bricks are their own city,
a paved concentricity, circle and swirl,
dip and trip, they lead no where but here.
You duck into the “Basura Blanco” exhibit,
black and white photographs of ping pong balls
impaled upon yucca, a seven foot Popsicle stick,
your culture, your folk art –not whittled
but machine pressed and super-sized. Step out
onto the blue adoquine cobblestones again,
a maze of ruts and alleys, in and out of tiny shops
of what were once crumbling colonial walls,
crime that nearly crushed old town in the 40’s.
Today Coach has an outlet near Mofongos R Us.
Lift your camera-hulked lanyard from your chest,
frame the furnace slag pathway, its whorls and ridges
are thumbprint smudges left in the narrows. Press
your ear on the still pulsing brick, to the sound of furnace stokes,
can you smell the coke plumes streaked inside the tiny universe?
It’s this cauldron that burns the city. A fire
that belongs to a pirate past. You toss your shiny lucre
throughout this aged metropolis, treasures to trot home,
barely aware of the monkey’s paw. You may have stumbled
upon the wilderness just before Dante’s first circle, the vendors,
the drunken mumblers, the sea dogs, outside that giant,
floating sleep-away mall–the Norwegian Gem.
What does it mean to be white, blinking under a straw hat?
Zinc oxide on your pale face, guided by nothing but greed.
Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer. Her poems have appeared in Prime Number, Memoir, Thrush Poetry Journal, Occupoetry, and elsewhere. Bridger is co-curator for the Open Bard Poetry Series, “Editor-in Sheaf’ of Ridgway Alley Poems, and a contributing writer at Telluride Inside and Out.