Mike Dayoub



Five million cariocas stuffed in cracks and valleys
Manhattans on Rio beaches
burn lights that glow the night sky
bright stars fade to memories

I borrowed a Honda and headed inland
looking for stars of the southern sky

two hours later I am on a dark road
strange frogs croaking and the bell of a cow.
Smoking brazilian, I gape up at the blanket
threaded by heroes and legends all foreign.
Where are my friends? my belt? my pitcher? my bear?
all to the north, a flight away
How would I find north from this place?
these stars speak Portuguese and I am a stranger.

back in Rio, I fret in my room. The streets below dance
rappers and reggae, samba and soul.
Every time I go out, I must wear the armor of Anglos:
only wanted by whores, hated by the men who know
how desirable I find their wives, their sisters

to be English in Copacabana is to be unwelcome.

but races blend so well here, all speak the same tongue
black white and mixed, such lingering lips and fast talk.
soka and steel, rhythms from far

I could retreat to Barra or other rich beaches, but here
in Copa, I can hear the jazz. The boy latches onto
the back of a trash truck,
coasts a ride on his inline skates. Going too fast, he lets go
and bumps a parked car so hard he starts its alarm.

dinners and families clatter apartments
stacked twenty stories high
in this beachlong skinny city. Birds from the forest
loud as the horns of taxis with F-1 dreams
Here is where the jazz is. For a plastic beach, I can
go to Hilton Head or Destin. But the jazz is here. When Botafogo
scores a goal or Santos, either, joy or oaths
rise from a hundred windows.

at two in the morning, fireworks boom. The drug war echoes
between these built canyons. Louder than shotguns, the blasts
are a signal: the drugs are here, come get them and sell them.

this is where the jazz is. I am afraid, but I still walk these
streets. Cuban cigars are so fine on the night beach.
I guard my pockets and flee thieves and beggars. If I get cut,
I'll be fucked --
stitches could come from a needle with AIDS.

but this is where the jazz is. And from anywhere in the city
Christ the Redeemer looks down on me. Arms open wide, he guards.
miles across the winged night sky, he guards.


Sam and I broke into the gym a few nights every week
after work R n R
through the window for some one-on-one

He was too strong, so solid
I couldn't keep him out of the key

My game quick and sleek but no match
for his moves inside -- he just wore me out

After we were done
the toilets locked, we pissed in the bushes outside

His perfect V back to me
he drummed a basso-profundo deep-sounding stream

Sweat rained from us both. I hated losing.

I stood glaring at his back
wishing I was him


big round thing, too hard to read, can't reach arms around the
block plaid adds illusion of a tablecloth, fear lost in folds emotions
better left unstirred big things once started can't stop steamrollers
each obstacle until final twist unanswered it trips into pathos
the moral redundant, winding gluttonous

Mike Dayoub
© 1996