Thursday, May 12, 2011

A California Suite: Poem by Peter Ramos & Paintings by Sharon Shapiro

Sunset, Strip

Our scuffed and unmatched luggage
              in the sun, beside the Chrysler and all
that fine bleached sand for miles, beyond which
              …the cold Pacific—whispering, blue-midnight

                                                                        a dirtier heaven shot through
                                                                        with palmettos and roadside cacti,
                                                                        with yucca plant and scrub—brown hills
                                                                        winking lights, come down

here beyond Wilshire and Culver City,
Santa Monica, Venice. A repetition
of cotton stucco, electrified
pastels by dusk, a thousand pink motels

                                                 AIR-CONDITIONING. POOL. COLOR TV. And you
                                                 blowing on your toes while I waited—the room-key
                                                 in the ashtray, the daybeds rolled back—
                                                 in the living-room swallowing beer. Come out Sugar
                                                 and see: your brightly painted feet
                                                 sink into bone-white shag. Turn over
                                                 on the sofa while I tongue your fresh burn.
                                                 Show me all your tan lines.

Soap up
your skin, your pinks
and browns and rinse—my pretty pinup
horrified or shocked by currents, by telephones
your swollen mid-century areolae.
Ripple-suck, water echo, bright laughter in the tub.

                                               You opened the sliding door and walked out
                                               of the cold blown-air, the news drifting
                                               from portable radios of a starlet
                                               murdered, of armed robbery
                                               starring some billionaire’s daughter.

That clear blue wobbling
           glass I’d almost drink—its ripples
flash and crackle
           in the sun, scintillating.
You tell me to show off
           my bikini and dive in.
But the deep end gapes. Already
           I can feel the cold water rush
over and up to my neck
           as you stand above me blacked-out
by the sun, laughing when the world tips,
           tumbles and spills until I fall down
into my deck chair dizzy.

Now you want a ring
and a chapel. No dice.
We’ll make the scene

here without it. Let the kiddies run
wild, half naked by the pool. Look up
and tell me to get over all
my old fashioned hangups.

Peter Ramos’ poems appear in Indiana Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Verse, The Chattahoochee Review, and Poet Lore. He is the author of one book of poetry, Please Do Not Feed the Ghost (BlazeVox Books, 2008), and two chapbooks: Watching Late-Night Hitchcock & Other Poems (handwritten press 2004), and Short Waves (White Eagle Coffee Store Press 2003).

For over 15 years, Sharon Shapiro’s paintings and works on paper have been exhibited in numerous venues across the country, including shows in Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Her work has been the subject of two major solo exhibitions with catalogs, one at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA (2007), and the other at Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA (2004). More recently, she was included in Playful Things: Examining the Role of Female Identity in Contemporary Art, a four-person exhibition at the University of Central Missouri documented by a hardbound catalog (2010). Shapiro has a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art (now SCAD), and is currently based in Charlottesville, VA.