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ADELAIDE Independent Bimonthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Bimensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 




 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

AMERICANS ON HOLIDAY
By Donovan James

 

 

 

 

Americans on Holiday

 

Stomping atop cobble stone streets,
Capturing a filament of existence,
In a photograph,
Americans meander down
Thin and weathered
Cities like tattered scarfs,
Rivulets connect spats
Of old colony architecture,
Past dens emanating a musk
Of fried cheese,
The dim hum of tortilla’s smacking
Against stone,

Exuberant cathedrals drenched
In vibrant colors,
Lively merchant booths house
Plump women politely offering
Hand carved pottery,
And the ancient masks
Of Spanish gods.

Kids whizz past, the melody
Of laughter floating
Past wanderlust crows,
Careening upwards,
While statuesque old men
Perch upon canes,
Locals curiously observe
The odd sight of three
American men traveling,
Alone, out of season,
We flicker from one immediate interest
To another,
We are boys again,
Dancing along,
The broken arrow
Of time.

The earth breathes,
Thick white fumes from soil,
Humid dew stirs
Americans from an ethanol steeped
Slumber, the automobile whirs
Into gear, flings Americans down hills
Alongside wild horses roaming thick
Swaths of jungle, bubbling over
Cresting hills to a hazy horizon.

Grumpy chickens bark arguments
Over imposing tourists,
Oblivious hogs munch grass,
While mangy dogs cope,
With past lives
Of abuse,
Timidly rubbing noses,
Near tourists,
For food.

Voluptuous waitresses effuse
Kindness, caress well intentioned
Broken english,
And bestow decadent meals
Of hearty grains, stewy beans,
And succulent fish to sop up
A heathenesque mix of tequila and beer.

Americans on holiday,
Stumble down streets at dusk
Where the moon and night’s kiss
Reveals a hidden caste;
The present’s incarnation of
A hundred thousand years of thankless sacrifice,
Young women rearing children,
Birthing the seeds of every civilization,
Hoping to weather the storms of ideology,
The cacophonic winds of misogyny,
Sisyphean attempts to nurture,
A better world
Into being.

While men idle in alleyway stoops,
Warm beer pooling in bellies,
Hazy minds reside
In the stubborn canyons of tradition,
Charging privilege and wanton
Ecological destruction,
To future generations.

Endless bottles of beer quell
Existential angst, flickering
Thoughts of imperialism--
Reagan and the Sandinistas--
The lives of locals distilled
Into textbook paragraphs,
Making tourism a question of ethics;

We glimpse only slivers
Of the lives of others,
Random collisions where we confirm biases
Of kindness or cynicism,
Where we either,
Strengthen the stubbornness of grand assumptions,
Or rekindle that youthful mantra of humility:
We are certain of so very little,
All of us,
A tender fillet of vulnerability,
A fleeting cascade of strangers,
Where the spark of connection bursts
Over a joke,
A smile,
All space between us,
Perceptions and grievances,
Gone.

 

 

 

 


Hopeless Romantic

 

Dating without alcohol reveals
The Buddha nature of affection,
I drank to enliven
Tepid conversations,
Defibrillate a connection,
A time machine to the moments
Under the jurisdiction of lust,
The season of
Skin upon skin,
Fingers tracing lips, sucking
Her scent from fingertips,
Thrusts encapsulate base desires,

While immature sexual proclivities,
Dance,
In a carnal garden of lust,
Fueled by whiskey sours, ciders,
And joints whose journey from
Grass to flame to ash,
Spread damp thighs,
And fuel
Long nights,
Insatiable thrusts,
Until,
Morning light creeps across carpet,
Warms unprotected toes, her
Stretch elicits a long moan,
And she flings her arm over my chest.  

I want to be alone.

Over coffee we discuss
Nothing.
Runny eggs swim around a plate,
Mashed against undercooked hash
Browns, I give her a ride
Home, wondering
If it will always be like this,
A theft,
Of lust from false affection,

We will always
Just take what we can get?
Stealing orgasms from strangers,
The elusive shadow of intimacy,
Haunting,
Through glimpses of past loves,
Flickering,
Across consciousness,
An echo from a fairy tale,
Another life,
A lie.

 


 

 


Reunions

 

The hills remember,
As ephemeral memories fade,
Curmudgeonly insects brood
Over gravel paths and
A smattering of shrubs,
While feeble weeds eke out
Of exhausted soil.

The valley extends to an ocean,
Where huge granite warts
Protrude from sand,
An organic,
Moss entrenched lighthouse,
Peers back,
Fifty years to man,
A season to the mountain,
Patriotic engineers eloped
With the idea that’s ensnared men,
For as long as ape brains have captured time;
The romantic notion,
Of sand castles built from
God and country.

Man’s oldest pastime;
Scrawling stories upon stone walls,
To escape the event horizon of being forgotten,
I will die;
Therefore,
How,
Can I be remembered,
Forever?

Majestic modern structures carved
Upon a mountain,
Giant spheres encasing fragile equipment,
Scanning the sky with invisible lines,
Seeking the dying canary of civilization,
Careening missiles from across an ocean,
To destroy a miniature ecosystem of society;
Living quarters, a rec center, school
And a bar.

Fifty years later,
I come across the ruins,
Of Mt. Hebo Air Force Base,
A commemorative plaque,
Couple pictures, fifteen years and,
Four thousand people,
Distilled
Into three
Paragraphs.

Where are the memories that make us?
Moments grow into days,
Blossom into years,
Forever flow
From one to another.

How many humans have pined,
For the temporary stoppage of time?
To extend a beautiful moment,
To eternity?

A photo of four men
Holding a fish.  A sliver
Of a present,
Intertwining lives captured
In a picture.  All sorrows
Forgiven,
All mistakes,
Forgotten.

Fate manifests secret histories
Among tribes through time,
Imagine,
The unwritten stories behind this picture:
A suicidal daughter split open,
Upon a bathroom,
Corrosive affairs dismantling marriages,
Singed trust shifts to cynicism,
Or a man disowning his homosexual son,
Confusing persons, responsibility,
And love.

I look away.
Perhaps they were kind.

The valley still stretches into the ocean,
I peer across it, thinking
Of nothing.  I am no one,
Only the perception of the hills
Exists, the battered gravel,
Despondent birds meander across
A cloudless sky.

What does the mountain remember?


 

 

 

 

Eighty-Sixed

 

I’m dreaming of a vodka soda,
With bitters and a lime,
In a church basement ripe with the smell,
Of humans carrying the burden of irrevocable
Mistakes, regret,
And an impending sense of destruction,
That’s only one drink,
Away.

Musky curtains blot out dusk,
Restless feet kneed moth ridden carpet,
And a delicate dust fall waits upon hymnals,
As chair’s unravel, placed
In a circle, the seeds
Of nervous addicts staring
Across at each other,

Seen.

Condensed down,
Into a person.  
Not personified disappointment,
Or endless excuses,
Just a person,
With a future as free
As anyone else.

Coffee drips in metronome,
A reminder
Of the silent grains of sand,
Slipping unceasingly,
Through the hourglass of time.

Humbled humans file in,
Residual cigarette smoke
Seeps into the air,
Jittery fingers tap against paper cups,
Teeth grate teeth, rip
Apart hangnails, gulping
The distractions of Phone.

We are ripe with weaknesses,
Contradictions,
Insecurities etched into our souls,
Made deeper by the river of drinks
Over the years.

We begin with the guidelines,
A humble admittance that the unknown
Frightens us, that we aren’t
Who we thought we were.  We aren’t
Who we’d thought we’d be.

We aren’t,
this,
…are we?

With humility, we finally accept
All the things,
We tried for nights,
Years,
Decades,
To drown,
In that drink.

 

 

 

 


Eclipse

 

Light minute long geometry
Coalesces,
To cast a satellite sized shadow,
Across an organic spaceship.
Filaments of solar flares,
Dance upon blades
Of grass,
Cats scatter across living room floors,
Dogs whimper and nuzzle hands
To assuage inarticulate fears,
While humans find comfort in theories
And equations,
Analogous to their ancestors finding peace
In stories and myth,

“The Sun God Will Return,”
&
“Equations predict the eclipse
Will last 45 seconds.”

Human syntax wrapped around
Bottomless concepts,
Transmuted into distinct grunts and clicks.

“Just enjoy it,”
She says, eyes peering upwards,
“You don’t have to analyze everything.”
Her fingertips intertwined in mine
Gift an almost imperceptible squeeze,
Those eyes that haunt
And inspire,
Encased in
Black hole glasses,
Watching the original god
Disappear.

 

 

About the Author:

donovan james

Donovan James is an artist, philosopher, and writer who lives in Portland, OR. His work has appeared in Vox Poetica, The Chaffey Review, Commonline Journal, and Curious Apes.  He’s also the author of the poetry collection “Saudade.”

 

 

 




 




 

 

 

     
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