John the Baptist · Lorraine Caputo

Short-cut hair cascades from
her turned-to-one-side head
resting upon her arms.
The evening rain drips off the tarp,
running in thin streams
into the empty streets.

Her dreams are disturbed.
Perdone, señorita,
a cigarette, please

With eyes still sleep-hazed,
she takes the cinco reales
& holds the lighter flame out.

With the smoke drifting away
with each step of that person,
she lays her head back down.

The shower has stopped.
Sparse lamplight gleams
off the block street.
Tamales, elotes,
a woman yells above the
clatter of her wood handcart,
corn-on-the-cob, tamales.
Her calls, the rattle
fade into the distance.

The rain begins again,
slipping off the tin roof.
Water pools in one end of the garden.
The song of marimba & choir
fills the night.

In front of this house
a serenade has arrived
for Padre Juan on his feast day.
Umbrellas, sheets of plastic,
cardboard are held aloft
shield the wooden instrument.

Into the sala off the courtyard
they are invited.
The music continues
with guitars & bass & dancing.
Padre Juan smiles a little-boy’s-smile
as he prances, hands in air.
The trombones & trumpets,
the bass drum & snare
arrive late.

After an hour or so,
the celebrants leave
Confetti plasters the tile floor.
The marimba stands silent & safe.
Rain still drips from the sky
& from the mandarin tree, the roses
in the courtyard garden.

Under the sparse lamplight
on a corner of the night,
six horsemen lean in their saddles,
awaiting the corrida of
John the Baptist’s head.

Poet and travel writer Lorraine Caputo’s works appear in over 180 journals on six continents; and 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.