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Tropical, Exotic

by Janet Parlato

Islands' edges in dreams

are always rounded

instead, volcanic rocks

tear your flesh to the bones

to swim face to face

with colors and flukes

watch blowholes spray through 

golden light, dolphin’s 

language clicks like castanets

but bird and fish and mammal

bellies, bellies split

stuffed like children’s duffels 

Technicolor plastic heaves 

along in its own sea,

hobbled with fishing line,

drowned by tangling nets

Tiki, zombie, marimba taxis

with pedals and pink hibiscus

hear sun in the steel drum’s

xylophone hum over the rumbling

slap and skid, arrivals and departures

runway tires on the ground

damp with desperate tears,

coups, machetes, dengue

looking for donkeys, sombreros

in all the wrong places, avoid 

gleaming citadels, funnel ghosts

of human cargo north and south

where sugar ain’t sweet, 

cotton ain’t soft, and rubber

drips ivory blood in vats

make useful condoms for the 

child sex trade chop them in 

half remove their tusks,

aphrodisiac gloat over the folded neck

of a harmless giraffe while 

vapors from the muzzle cools

we stroll the marketplace 

to bulge our bags with 

trinkets, admire the bargaining

but psychically swat 

away small pleading palms 

because they might 

above all, and this is a very 

important avoidance 

for a foreign traveler, 

fill us with regret

About the Author

Janet Parlato is a writer and artist living in Connecticut with her husband, Steve, their children, Ben and Jill, and a needy little dog named Austin. Her work has been published by Brides Magazine, Silas Bronson Playreaders Theater, Freshwater Poetry Journal, Paper Nautilus, Common Ground Review, Cathexis Northwest Poetry Magazine and the 25th Anthology of the Guilford Poets Guild. She was recently interviewed by Kaleidoscope, a Journal for Women Writers.

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