Disintegration of Purpose at Cocoa Beach, Florida (Part 1)

By Michael Derrick Hudson

A pelican divebombs the same shimmery-shammery silver stripe
of the horizon. The pale yellow and presumably

bloodless crabs scuttle to their holes, terrified by my shadow

all over again. Again! They’ll never figure it out,
but of course every moment for them is nothing but the fretful

expectation of imminent death. They’re expendable. Fecund.

Edible. Fuck ’em. So where’s my hero? My old conquistador
my Castilian grandee terrible with purpose . . .

Señor! Over here, por favor! But what if he did come, feverish

and bedraggled, this Spaniard wading hip-deep through the surf
cumbered by his mildewed ruffles

and waterlogged boots, in silver salt-pitted
spurs and a rust-bucket helmet? He’d spout nonsense, bragging

about the usual claptrap: solid gold wigwams, diamonds bigger
than pumpkins and an obsidian-eyed princess

festooned with raccoon tails. There’d be those outrageous lies,

poison darts tinking off his armor while tramping the Everglades
and living these five hundred years fetched

off death’s front stoop by a few quavering, toothless sips from

the Fountain of Youth. With the point of his cutlass he’d scratch
the beach with treasure maps and schemes, telling tales

of the cannon-shattered fo’c’sle and those desolate, bone-littered
passageways. I’d put up with it for as long

as I could. ¡Hola! History stops here, Señor! Everything does!

Such disappointments! Such long afternoons! It’d be awkward
for a while. We’d resort to elaborate

and old-fashioned courtesies: doffing
hats and stiff little bows, hastening forward to fling out cloaks

over each other’s mud puddles. But we’d grow fond again, our

foreheads practically touching
when we lit the other’s cigar. And he’d come round to thank me

after the seventh or eighth Bloody Mary. He almost always does.


Michael Derrick Hudson lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  His poems have appeared in Poetry, Boulevard, Columbia, Fugue, Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, Triggerfish Critical Review and Washington Square.   He was co-winner of the 2014 Manchester Poetry Prize.  His poems won The Madison Review 2009 Phyllis Smart Young Prize, River Styx 2009 International Poetry Contest, and the 2010 and 2013 New Ohio Review contests. 

Originally published in NOR 8

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