By Roy Bentley
In the gift shop across from the ATM and
the Currency Exchange / Florida Lotto window,
and rather than succumb entirely to the tease
of the bobble-headed Plexiglas pink flamingos
and conch shell key chains, like the tourists who
simply hand over ATM-crisp twenty-dollar-bills
or a platinum American Express card, I’m passing
on everything—the U of F ashtrays in the shape
of open-mouthed, palm-frond green alligators—
except for handpainted greeting cards depicting
ibises preening in Key West. I won’t apologize
for being a sucker for wading birds or Key West.
By the magazines and half-price hardback novels
the wisdom of shrink-wrapped 2010 calendars
shouts that NASCAR is metaphor for what it takes
to live in the Sunshine State—Rubbin’ Is Racin’—
as if bent fenders and near-death collisions and
concussions are to be expected, a part of the price.
Think of all the lives intersecting in this place.
Think of the terrified Midwesterners on their way
to anywhere warm to drink a piña colada. I’m here,
waiting for someone, so I toss change into a fountain.
The fountain has a white lion’s head spewing a stream
of local Palm Beach County tap water. I’m wishing
for a better life. More money. More inexplicable joy
as destination, which it is. I throw in shiny quarters
because I know better than to be cheap with luck,
though nobody’s sure there is anything like God
or an afterlife, never mind that we walk around
in Paradise, which is always under construction
and offers both long- and short-term parking.
Roy Bentley is the author of ten books, and he has been a finalist for the
Miller Williams Prize. His poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, december, The
Southern Review, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner, among other publications.
His latest book is My Mother’s Red Ford: New & Selected Poems.