Suicidal in Paradise

When I see driftwood, I think shipwreck.

And I don’t think I’m alone. Here –

in the company of a hundred sunburnt shoulders.

I’m a freak among this fitness.


An animal is at its most vulnerable

when its belly is prone, so I button up

my bowling shirt and wave away a Mai Tai.


(Seagulls have been circling

my stress-sweat for hours.)


I scour the beach for horseshoe crab shells

fragrant with roe, for valuable shrapnel,

for neglected SOS’s of pebbles and pearls

and for the skeletons that laid them.


Haven’t these people noticed those overhead coconuts

and the measly feathered hooks on which they sway?


Haven’t they heard that you can’t drink seawater?

That we’ll have to survive by sucking on fisheyes?


Anyway, an island is a prone place,

surrounded on all sides, inescapable.

And I don’t know how to love

a thing I didn’t pay or suffer for –

it’s a virtue where I come from.


There are parasols here for sky-born cancers,

blankets to stay the hurricane breeze.

They make repellants for repellant things

and undertows to punish the reckless.


It’s night now, no lifeguard on duty.

The blackness is spattered with galaxies.

And what bats at those tombstone buoys?

What awaits me in that brackish underbelly?

This poem was originally published in the Summer 2019 Issue of Rumble Fish Quarterly.