Mark Novak


(One Night In San Telmo)

In el Plaza Domingo, backpacks y carteras were centrally strewn
In the warm summer air, beneath burning beams of February's moon.

Tangueros in meld use working legs to brush high, stilettos aside,
And navigate for cock-like position in artistry and dangerous pride.

And you -Rooster.  Foreign to this history, to this cultural Mecca.
Foreign to the look, to the tongue, to the morays of milonga.

But O, -the bird can fly!  Ne'er was he ever caught to have feather clipped,
And competed ruefully to earn respect in the land from which he has shipped.

Bring it Alpha!..  He did not flap this distance to be pecked by the likes of you.
He can scratch with the best, and all his life, had resistances to force through.

From Mexico City, dark eyes smolder through the smell of perfumed, sweated pack,
To lock vision with the exotic and formulate el cabasero's momentary compact.

Bodies draw in, embraced in the hold, in the moment the potential unfolds
It's wings, and Pugliese's mournful strains cry out and call for the emotive.

And the legs swing.  Inside-Outside-y Entre, like serpentines in coil,
As the tanda plays on-"Ay!", she pants in her heaving blouse of voile

"Your tango is muy diferente, than the other hombres aqui."
"Gracias, Señorita.", A fine feather stroke to a bird's internal preen.

"Eso!", she moans in the tanda's last cut, and bodies break contact,
And the moment is done. -Dancers recede to repeat their covert acts

Of attraction. -Out come the scarves as baileros set to dance
La Cueca. Fully, -6,455 miles he has flown, -all for this experience..

And upon the midnight hour the chime calls out its happy, warning toll,
And just like that -he marks half of a century, -Rooster, -Feliz Cumpleaño.

It can get no better; the knowledge, training he has sought to undergo,
So he bids the plaza adieu, to return to his room en el corazon de San Telmo.

Midnight delight, ice cream cone in hand; in a reverie and easy sauntering stroll
On the homeward path, when intercepted from shadows, -tres hombres malos.

Aggressive language leaps, laughably past comprehension. "Steer clear
Of dark streets, -take taxis", was the advice of the hotel doorman, -Rooster.

A dangerous instance, he is surrounded on the cobblestones by the Argentinians.
Pointedly again, The Devil Demands! -"Habla Despacio", he pleads. -Experience..

It's what he seeks, and his wish is now at command. The first blow glances
And the second one lands.  His fight is brief as El Diablo swinging, plants his

Balled fist into the face. In a moment they are on him, hits batter like rain
As he curls and covers, helpless to do anything but call out in vain.

Sheets of Spanish voices roll as rapids above the thunderous beating.
Hand explores pockets, -a kick to the ribs, -his final thoughts  now fleeting

To the sorrowful scene, when his brood is brought to the light of this violent moment-
When by the scruff of his neck, muscled arms severely lift, setting a shriveled poet

On his feet. -The Chicken shudders. -Feather torn, scratched, clucked and fucked.
And the hombres malos run the bird across cobblestones, hard into a parked truck.

Blood drops drip to the street, he turns to face The Devils; choiceless desperation,
He raises his fists, preparing for the second wave. "VAMOS!!" Says an irritated Satan.

An opening is offered, a break down the street, reaction doesn't think twice,
Legs and elbows swing, Cluck And Fly Chicken!! Run Hard For Your Life!!...

In the safety of distance, he curses his luck, vacant pockets and cold circumstance.
Bloodstains on San Telmo's cobblestones. -Rooster.  Now, he has his Experience...