I am not now, nor have I ever been, a linguist,
just a thirty-something gringo mumbling in this hostel.
I want to find some girls to laugh and drink
and baby talk in Spanish. However all the other
dudes here are younger, thinner, and look seven times
more like Jesus. Spoon River says, every soldier has a woman
at his back. What about every Jesus in this look-alike contest?
I ain’t been laid in forty days and it’s starting to show.
An empty bed in a beautiful country
where you can buy twenty avocados for a dollar
is still an empty bed. I drink and pretend to blend in.
Chameleons pose in the open air café here. I wonder,
are these lizards like mice to the locals?
But they don’t seem to eat their way through the pancake mix,
so that makes them esta bien.
Waiting for the shower again, I dream a keyhole
big as my head to see the Danish girl, the Bulgarian girl,
the German girl and the lukewarm water falling from the heating
contraption with wires wrapped round the head into a socket above.
This girl’s soap, too stubborn to lather
right is now dripping into the grated
drain and I see the women that would have come
here with me if I’d given them my name:
the one in Turkey who hung on my back
as I walked away, the one who ran to Tokyo to teach English,
that one in Brooklyn moving through the book stacks.
Her cart wobbling and making too much noise,
she parks it and goes back to shelving, supple
fingers on the stiff spines and ordering titles,
stopping before she clicks on
How I Went All the Way to Guatemala
and All I Could Think of Was You Singing in My Shower.
Jason Braun currently teaches English and is the Associate Editor of Sou’wester at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He hosts “Literature for the Halibut” a weekly hour-long literary program on KDHX 88.1. He has published fiction, poetry, reported or been featured in Prime Number, ESPN.com, Big Bridge, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Evergreen Review, SOFTBLOW, The Nashville City Paper, Jane Freidman’s blog, and many more.