The Black Riviera
For Garrett Hongo
There they are again. It's after dark. The rain begins its sober comedy, Slicking down their hair as they wait Under a pepper tree or eucalyptus, Larry Dietz, Luis Gonzalez, the Fitzgerald brothers, And Jarman, hidden from the cop car Sleeking innocently past. Stoned, They giggle a little, with money ready To pay for more, waiting in the rain. They buy from the black Riviera That silently appears, as if risen, The apotheosis of wet asphalt And smeary-silvery glare And plush inner untouchability. A hand takes money and withdraws, Another extends a plastic sack-- Short, too dramatic to be questioned. What they buy is light rolled in a wave. They send the money off in a long car A god himself could steal a girl in, Clothing its metal sheen in the spectrum Of bars and discos and restaurants. And they are left, dripping rain Under their melancholy tree, and see time Knocked akilter, sort of funny, But slowing down strangely, too. So, what do they dream? They might dream that they are in love And wake to find they are, That outside their own pumping arteries, Which they can cargo with happiness As they sink in their little bathyspheres, Somebody else's body pressures theirs With kisses, like bursts of bloody oxygen, Until, stunned, they're dragged up, Drawn from drowning, saved. In fact, some of us woke up that way. It has to do with how desire takes shape. Tapered, encapsulated, engineered To navigate an illusion of deep water, Its beauty has the dark roots Of a girl skipping down a high-school corridor Selling Seconal from a bag, Or a black car gliding close to the roadtop, So insular, so quiet, it enters the earth.
From The Black Riviera, published by Wesleyan University Press, 1990. Copyright © 1990 by Mark Jarman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Poet Mark Jarman won the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and has authored many collections of poetry.
Date Published: 1990-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/black-riviera