"Guam is a Four-Letter Word"

If the air had not been so wet,
heavy and hot, stewing us bitter
like teabags in a massive coral cup;
if there hadn't been so many bugs
(no tiny jewels of nuisance but winged,
palm-sized and scrabbling blisters of disgust)
and shrews, lizards and wasps;
if the poisonous fish
(turkey and lion and rockfish)
hadn't been waiting just off Gabo-Gabo Beach
to squish out from beneath
our required and sodden sneakers;

if the toads like gangrenous and abandoned feet
hadn't slapped their way across the softening asphalt
to gather in the middle of the night, I was sure,
at the pre-historic stone altars hidden everywhere,
even engulfed by the trunks of gargantuan banyans;
then the typhoons, the tropical depressions,
the battered and broken acres of banana,
all of anything green growing or rotting as we watched;
slime of moss on the windows, the sidewalks,
along the sides of the roads and over the tunics
of shattered cemetery angels, rust staining their stumps
where their wings had been
bombed away,

if only the island didn't shake everyday, trembling
on her three skinny legs
as the crown-of-thorns starfish
chomped at her knees;
maybe if we hadn't felt so pale and alone
out on the endless cocoa sea,
we might have stayed awhile,
set up a five-and-dime in downtown Agana
or settled into our own Quonset aesthetic
deep in the swelter near Talafofo Falls,
carved out our own muddy divet
while teetering on the edge
of the bottomless Marianas Trench,
steaming and vast.

Written by authors permission:
J. Mark Beaver

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