El Cabana

for Elizabeth

Just knock three times and whisper low
that you and I were sent by Joe,
then climb the stair and you are there – you’re in
Hernando’s Hideaway.  Olé!

When I was eleven and you were twenty
the world began to spin faster
horizons that seemed firmly bounded
began to stretch and waver
shimmering like hot air or a blotchy mirror
as the old shellac 50s ground to a halt
scratching and crackling when the needle won’t lift
and the 60s swung onto the turntable.
Maybe the grownups didn’t notice   but
you and I   poised on the brink
of adulthood and adolescence   caught the scent –
coffee!

Just knock three times and whisper low
that you and I were sent by Joe,
then climb the stair and you are there – you’re in
Hernando’s Hideaway.  Olé!

On the shady side of the square   beyond
the furrier’s rich pelts and condescending airs
above the hairdresser and the greengrocer
climb a twisting stair and you are there
smoky haze    hazy lights   seductive smell
tiny tables   black steel legs  boomeranged laminex
ashtrays overflowing   half smoked ends
steel Vesuvius   hissing   gushing dark liquor
sexy    exciting   threatening   italian men
in white shirts   tight pants   sharp shoes
there was music    or was it just the steam   spurting
El Cabana.

Just knock three times and whisper low
that you and I were sent by Joe,
then strike a match and you will know – you’re in
Hernando’s Hideaway.  Olé!

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