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South of the Border

by Paul Smith


Once there was a song that begins/
South of the border
Down Mexico way. . ./
I can’t remember the rest of it but it had to do with this crooner/
congratulating himself on his megatransect of what lie South/
and how he swooned over a señorita/
where they took his money on the first floor/
and sent him upstairs where a little more was taken/
for a room and some more for a rubber and/
if there was any left after he got laid/
she hit him up for carfare home which was chambonada/
because this was home the Manhattan Club or the Café Amerićain
and now feeling soiled he waxes moonstruck instead/
of regret remembering instead the glow of her/
candle and the portrait of the Lady of Guadalúpe or/
the Virgin of Suyapa or the way she pouted after/
washing him off or perhaps how she wavered between/
indifference and neediness and he wound up concocting a tune/
to hallow his worldliness before going home/

But it usually happens otherwise though you are truly captivated/
captive to her scent her longing and the spell of your loneliness/
face to face with her willingness and there/
in a room above the Hotel Centrál you agree to a compromise/
the world will laugh at including/
a civil ceremony in the sala of her oven-like house/
where you learn her true age/
and receive a trove of wedding gifts bed sheets, towels and linens/
dry goods impossible to stuff in your suitcase and head/
back home with her in tow once a siren now a load/
that plays rancheros on your turntable having no idea/
what the music is saying


Paul Smith writes poetry & fiction. He lives in Skokie, Illinois with his wife Flavia. Sometimes he performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago. He believes that brevity is the soul of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should be cut in half immediately.


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