Kevin A. González

Cultural Stud

Who are you
tangled in the rap of Frenchies: Le Club,
plunking cigarettes backwards into your mouth,
your tongue a magic carpet
with one end tethered to the ground?
There is a pool table behind you
& two girls—topless—on their break,
cue shafts sashaying in & out
the smug gaps of their palms.
On stage, Extasis has more curves
than an ampersand, coiled
around the smooth metal pole,
barely an isthmus between floor & ceiling.
You know her waist is like the yellow line
on a bus, her nipples the knobs
for the tint of your dreams,
your mouth watering so much
the flood of want reroutes to your eyes.
You know you were born here.
This is Hato Rey, Puerto Rico,
& a Dominican waiter in a leather beret
insists you order another Scotch
because your ice has already melted.
There are traces of Breton
simmering inside the plush cushions
when Extasis abandons the stage
& you grab her arm
& tell her your heart is red velcro
& she just happened to be
walking by. You tell her
the past, baby, is a sour grape
we learn not to bite.
This is Frenchies: Le Club
in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico,
& you were born here.
She is Colombian
& drinks White Russians.
She wants to be
an American citizen,
& you are tired of being
a graffittied wall
forgiving the humid caresses
of your vandals. You tell her
its true: you have a token to feed
to the rusted turnstile of heaven,
but you have no WD-40
to make it turn. She is Colombian
& her lips stamp your cheek
like a passport, the aftertaste of Finlandia
napping under her tongue.
This is Hato Rey, Puerto Rico,
& you have to order another Scotch
because consumption
is the first policy of solitude.
The Dominican in the leather beret
tries to drown you in his shadow.
You know your busted wallet is empty.
You look to the girl for help
& she reminds you your ice has melted.
How could it not? you say
but she can’t hear you. The bass
throbs. Strobes bulldoze the darkness.
Behind you, the 8-ball
drawn into the black hole of a pocket
trails little bullets of light.

Kevin A. González
Poem, copyright © 2004 by Kevin A. González
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2004, From the Fishouse