Old Town St. Augustine,
Millennial New Year
Next door to my café, the gravestones looked like budget horror. Strangly Spanish moss. Above, the steeple walls were speckled pale coquina, mollusk mulch, but coral-topped. The ghost unscrews a lipstick. Eye of the beholder, maybe. Maybe it was my heart ascending strangely, at millennium’s verge. I picture, sort of, Touchdown Y2K — me clowning in the end zone, gladrag’d, smug. My choice, this venue. These canary Vettes and straw high-heels. Slush in my booze. At least I wasn’t in a mall. Yet I’d always hated Jimmy Buffet. I spent, what, a week? Allergic, squinting, pasty. That churchyard there, I did keep coming back… that’s me, at brunch beside the Pit. On the mind’s cave wall, that’s how I like to paint myself, a hero leaping round the fire, with spear and drum and memorable chants. As I recall, however, brunch and after included nothing ritual, unless you count the flirting. Servers showing off their hips, those honored bones. And Jacksons, too, dead Presidents, some mighty talismans. The worship grows more feverish when it’s not your money, when the 20s come from Mom. Burn holy in your pocket. Then, other bars, other bones. Painted nails along the rails. Flip-flops’ crusted straps, the shell and coral fixed as if in amber. Oh high-sung Margaritaville, bring out your dead! This in “old St. Aug,” of all the so-called cities. Clown apocalypse, that’s more Orlando’s style. Talk about a spectre wearing lipstick. But here, my only parent left had units left untenanted. Wasn’t like I did a bad job, either. Wasn’t like I was some legendary tomcat. It’s been years, but I remember also taking Mass. America’s first parish, right? As for my pick-up lines, they showed restraint. No word about Jim Crow, the ‘60s riots…. Instead I talked an earlier End-of-Times, done up like Disney’s Lion King. That’s how I put it, not a bad line, meaning De Leon, conquistador in rouge and paint. The Fountain of, etcetera? But the watering holes he visited, he left polluted. Spanish pox’d. Strangly bug. Timucwa never knew what hit ‘em. So — I hardly left a trail of fire, did I? Hardly failed to realize where I was.
John Domini’s poetry has won the Editors’ Award in Meridian and appeared elsewhere. Emerging Writers Network called his novels from ’07 and ’08, and A Tomb on the Periphery, “back-to-back stunners.” There’s more at www.johndomini.com.