Danger comes easy

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The best beer I ever drank was a Sol tallboy
from a styrofoam cooler in a neighborhood park
in Merida. It was Carnival in Mexico
but that particular block party could have been simply
someone’s birthday. Still, a teenage boy
sold me the can, ice cold, almost

frozen. There was a parade that day — floats
for hours blasting pop music. Drag queens
in tall wigs and short skirts threw kisses
like candy. You wouldn’t think there’d be
so many queens in Mexico, or maybe it’s no
surprise. And ordinary, too, how the police

watched the parade from military transport vehicles
wearing helmets and assault rifles like sashes. No cause
for alarm. An officer chatted up a clown. A boy
with white shoes and complicated hair
rolled his marquesita cart closer
to the crowd. We’re born innocent

and then the world seeps in, salt water stinging
our wounds. Danger comes like that, easy,
from unexpected sources. We never understand
how little we know until the next wave brings us
face to face with drag queens and rifles,
the Caribbean ocean, a hundred varieties

of bananas. We think we know about bananas;
suddenly what we thought was a banana
all that time was just subterfuge
and marketing and we either give up
or we set off in search of the truth. Cold beer,
strange beauty, narrow scrapes

in far-away places, road maps
to who knows where. Tonight I stood
for ten minutes watching fireflies rise
in an abandoned lot. Passersby slowed to see
what I was up to. I am an interloper now —
middle aged and soft, so therefore dangerous.

Ask me how my day was, ask me
what I think of anything. I’ve come this far
through the parade crowds and the invisible war,
through a thousand shades of Caribbean blue.
I’ve caught all the kisses my pockets
can hold. I will not holster

my words anymore.

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