John Domini

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
                     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,Earthquake I.D. and A Tomb on the Periphery, “back-to-back stun­ners.”  There’s more at