Pagan Sandwich

Oleh Lysiak

On the Merida night train to Palenque the Chibougamou blonde,

too good to be true but good to her word, delivers in the sleeper.

The Chiapas full moon shimmies and shudders across mercurial skies

in a pagan sandwich between the solstice and the New Year.

Fresh hongos hum stoned jungle carols on a banana leaf tablecloth

below Palenque’s ruins. A Frisbee’s whisper slices purple juicy night.

Palace stairs in Guatemala City I scam a ride south in a Toronado

up against a Detroit cop’s brassy blonde daughter; arroz con platanos,

macaws and cheap hotel rooms in the “tenangos”, Huehue, Chichicas,

to Mangua where stacked post-earthquake corpses burn in los calles.

In Panama a close-cropped porky Winnebago jockey, polyester slacks,

slick white shoes and belt claims the key to life is being the right man

at the right place at the right time. My blonde bails but I have the key,

a bag of Panama Red and a ride on a cutter sailing west, ancient

Brit skipper on a getaway with his wrinkled paramour. We part

in the Galapagos: bananas, king fruit, giant avocadoes, tortoises,

marine iguanas, blue footed boobies; cactus fruit and shark for lunch.

I kiss Miami’s tarmac after flights from Baltra to Guayaquil to Quito

to another blonde in West Palm Beach; age twenty five I’m sauteed

in come and go blonde sauces. I hook a ride in a black Cadillac,

black driver, black cigar. You drive I’ll sit in back, he laughs.

We part below Chicago. I thumb to Rocky Mountain rocknroll

road warrior gathering: pickups, tipis, domes, we dine on road kill,

poached venison, rice and beans; replant America in a sprint

toward our amen hallelujah fates. Come winter we disperse. Spring

sprouts fresh tales and treasures from the previous town’s dump

or exotic distant shores. Viscous, pungent Asian oils trade even up

for crystal Mississippi moonshine. Rules that apply to everybody else

don’t necessarily apply to us. Time grinds down our illusions.

Kids change perceptions of mortality. Friends move away or die.

With luck sweet clarity replaces stoned delusion

and what might have been construed to be mistakes in truth

are really stepping stones to grim enlightenment in our own time,

in our own fashion.