When Juan was still Jonny not John Johnny
on the death certificate, like the birth
certificate seven years late, this time
due to going up and coming back down
talking to Nell as well as Manual,
his original father pronounced it,
why he never knew, his sister said
What does it matter? and that settled it . . .
When all that was more true than it was now,
dying was no art. Now doctors kept you
pumped full of virtual life, this pill, that
machine, surgery, with no hope in sight
and nothing said that had the word future
included. All that would come, Juan was sure,
all you had to do was wait. Sun goes down,
moon lets the clouds go by before looking . . .
When he traveled faster than speed of light
up the lanes of paradise, they called it,
it was the great rush junkies talked about
being in on earth, yet who did they see?
Manual, who now knew his successor,
Manuel, and had to be nice to please
God, well, his father before the last one
with the same name, told him about the war
before he woke with the light in his eyes,
the voices murmuring, excited now,
and here he was back on the dying earth.
He thought of Colin dying, of Carlos
missing, of names on the Wall Paolo knew,
and if they were dead they were lucky now,
now you had to go back and back and back
till you got killed or they let you retire.
Jon Jonny nee just plain Johnny Flowers
loved more women than he could ever count,
but none like Marie save Irish Cathleen,
and Mother Mary! they all loved him
but if he said so that would make it true.
The name Jonny could go to fucking hell,
and so could Johnny Flowers. He was Juan
Flores and made love now nightly with one
who got to name herself Adore, so old
she knew everything came from the gris-gris,
the ju-ju her mama called it, so why
did he worry lovemaking would kill her . . .
Like as not it would kill him first, even
though he was twenty years younger, his heart
beat twice, even more--he wasn’t counting--
where hers beat once when blood made the circuit . . .
She was his lifelong answer in Crescent
City, the Big Easy, New Orleans,
and he was never going back where home
was on his driver’s license, Hawai’i,
No matter now it was long out of date.
And he wasn’t going to play that game.
He would listen to Adore, share her bed,
make amends to get his one-way ticket . . .
(5 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander