La Cinta Costera

Lover’s drive, or the Cinta Costera, is a seaside road in Panama City. When I fell upon it in 2010, it was newly constructed. Heat and humidity never failed to find their way to the ocean drive, where on truly tropical days, not a soul could be found until the evening hours, when the city would cool from daylight sunbursts. Basketball and football games on the stone courts and joggers were the mainstay but the life of the drive were the couples that sat perched on the concrete embankments that lined the 2 kilometer stretch of road.

Hand in hand and arms around shoulders, the couples were usually young locals freshly in love or in the process of wooing a significant other. They were seated all across the drive, from the residential street that bordered one end to the rough and tumble neighborhood that was located at the other. Pelicans hovered overhead, their large orange beaks holding the freshly captured fish from the waters below. The lovers paid these birds little attention, fixated upon each other, whispering and holding hands. The ocean water stretched far into the pacific horizon where mostly large container ships planted for their turn to cross through the Panama Canal. Waves would splash against the boulders placed at the beach front during high tide while the dark sand of the ocean floor was visible from the shoreline during low tide.

The busy evenings on the Cinta Costera in the dry seasons would see the traffic piling up on the parallel main road. The cars were at a good distance in order to keep the runners moving without having to directly ingest the fumes from the street.  The lovers, in worlds of their own, and focused only on each other were without distraction. The children screamed and played in the parks unconcerned. The traffic would come to a standstill in the evenings as residents left work and rushed to return home.

Patrolling the drive, the military police were a presence on busy days. Their purpose was to watch and observe but they hardly involved themselves in the lives of the locals on the water front. Skyscrapers surrounded the streets that lined the Cinta Costera, mostly residential buildings housing the well to do of Panama City. With the neighborhood of Paitila at one end and Chorillo at the other, the beach drive was a connecting path between the richer and poorer parts of Panama City.

On weekends, ice cream and drink vendors would push their carts around the courts in hopes of enticing young people to buy their cold refreshments. The children would line up after their games, dropping their dollars into the hands of the vendors in exchange for much needed cool beverages. Saturdays and Sundays were when the streets were truly alive. The countless lovers spent their free moments in each other’s company, stealing kisses and caresses while whispering sweet nothings.

The disparities in local life were bridged at the Cinta Costera. The white collar classes of the large Jewish neighborhood of Paitila and the working class crime ridden blocks of Chorillo were merged on this two kilometer strip. Regardless of their living conditions and status, the young hearts of Panama City thrived on the Cinta Costera, where time was reserved for the many lovers that disconnected from the world and engaged with each other.

For her

You are but greatness
in the form of cells
of molecules and particles
of all that is well

Sleeping and waking
eating and drinking
the rest are just moments
to stop incessant thinking

Moments of seeking
of dreaming and speaking
to solve what we’re seeing
but with you, just being

Burdens

The escape of words that control the understanding of our lives
held in to boil over the angst of our existence
thought over, measured, and released
the burdens in our soul lightened
the words that harm us
now hurting others

To wish to have held them in longer
laying suffering upon my own heart
now I stand victorious, unburdened
with a guilt that flows through my wretched soul

Day Dreams

Lost in daydreams of wealth and worldly gain
only to awaken to pain staking sweats and gasps of lonely breaths
marching along these steps to be swept of my feet
by the tides of life that wish nothing but to crack my concrete

Sick, stifled and belittled by visions so grandiose
sniffling, unable to reach for my daily dose
the ghosts of success undressing me to dry tears
to the hunger and wants of life that I hold so near

Provoked by dreams until my life is revoked
with torrid ambitions, my actions provoked
I cannot sit still and I will not lie down
I must move forward to my crown on high ground

A Working Man

The piles of pressure
mounted upon the working man’s shoulder
of mountainous worries, of worldly woes
lugging humankind across treacherous tracks in searching and in discovery
fitting the structures of a simple life
in the form of friends and family

The given handed out no more
the complexities of life gravely misunderstood
a bitterness manifesting, a silence ingested
tested by ticking patience, graded by the moments spent in contentment
without reason to resent
seasoned to contend with times changing
rearranging priorities
to savor the minority of moments that are spent in satisfying breaths

Endings

Lapping ourselves in repetition
catching words in the wind
“the end is near” they warned
yet we live it again and again

The morning, the night
the naps in the afternoon light
past the fright of never waking from our slumbers
half asleep through shaking thunders

Blunders and error that cost us great
now marked off as the will of fate
never wishing to be separate in our standing
a peace of mind the only demanding

There was no time to look back
there was little that we could do
we played the game put forth for us
until there was little left to prove

Now we wait
between the hard lines and warm breaths
amidst the warnings and bold threats
the same old sweats and cold bets

One day we will end
and that day will be tragic
or we could start today
and live away our little lives of magic

The Dice

A roll of dice to determine a birth between treachery and safe life
a safe flight to seek space without war
a safe night to see a space full of stars

But bombs drop and babies are born
just as worn bodies take on life from dusk until dawn

The dice are rolled and stories are told
and it is mere luck where our births unfold

Nature (a view from my train seat)

Long lush scenes of nature so green
in August rain, the forests that flash past my window pane
for miles and miles, the pastures and fields
unveil and reveal, cover ground forever between cities of steel

Leaves and branches dropping into trenches and gutters
a buttered view
uttered between cool breaths of unfettered dew

The green happening wrapping around the speeding metal tube
as free as the trees and petals of which we once knew

Mirrors

My mirror is a teller of tales. I usually hope these are tall, handsome tales but generally they are well rounded and to the point. I wish to see the same potential in the mirror that I hold in sight for my upcoming day but like the inclement weather, there is no worse friend than a mirror that tells truths to no end. I must appreciate its honesty. I have no control over this glass that wishes me well, that shows me swell, that can reveal only my outer shell and scars that have not faded all so well.

It speaks of flaws, it showers me with confidence, and it keeps me young. I feel well looking into this mirror just as my sickness shows none too clearer than in this image of errors. Why must we trust such a reflection? I may draw a scene but only may I rarely capture its true essence; what it actually is. I have a mirror for validation, a mirror to chart my dilapidation, and a mirror so firm in my state of trepidation.

In mirrors, we trust. The reflection of vanity, the insanity to fulfilling a dysmorphic reality, I find it a tragedy for those who see themselves as less than they are. The stars distant despite their bright appearance are left to be admired, shamed only for lack of confidence. We are all caught out in the wrong when the long, beautiful figures in the reflection appear not to belong in our eyes. We are the product of lies. The truth is that we are acceptable despite the harsh realities that capsize our tiny vessels of confidence.

I have made a good friend of my mirror, as truthful as I allow it to be despite the morning peek that was once a calamitous endeavor bearing marks of escapades and nighttime tremors. As I now look within, I take back what is still mine, despite rain or shine, I will be me whether fat, thin, bald, or hairline only slightly reclined.

Cabinets

A desperate search for words in cupboards
nowhere to be found, no traces and no sounds
minds emptied of priceless prose
bookish breathing stymied by lifeless blows

Where have the words gone?
who has carried off the poetic throngs?
Subdued by the future gone wrong
and the goodbyes of life so long

Now carrying this cabinet emptied of it graces
intent on filling it with life’s stories and faces
places to go and people to see
to get back the words of cupboards so free