The following poem by Ricardo Pau-Llosa appeared in Issue No. 13 of the Marlboro Review
NUDE BAR, South Miami
In pellucid curves she dances for me, a mere
foot or so away, on her difficult stool
and lucite pumps, between amber beers and buddies.
We're hypnotized by the girl
in the bill-laced garter belt
and the wholesome smile. Each move is frankly
equine, the just-woke toss of gold burnt hair,
the reared break of waist. It is no accident
that she is radiant, a milky flame
that triggers awe as much as lust.
For ten bucks we get a breath-shot view.
Buck naked and lost for a song's length in dance.
Call it that, a jolt and flare is dance
if set to music, much as desire, though stark
in the galley of this manly bar, is an honest
flash despite the knuckled stares, the flame
of all that want ending with an erect bill
folded and slipped between belt and thigh.
Case closed. The girl combs on her red,
gelatinous dress, long, side-cut and thread-held
to her snow-capped shoulders, just
covering her. Now she may walk the red
bar of ambers and greens. Only when she sways
to music can she discharge her raw duty. She mounts
again the lozenge of stage inside the bar
and newly bares her flesh to a thumping melody.
Through the clang of bottles among imploded males
who will not so much as brush each other's
shoulders, fans of dollar bills folded
in their delicate pockets, she hears the freed
crisp of a new tip, the swallow
of impossible petition.
She turns on her vertical bar, single petal
on a shiny stem, or clutches the horizontals.
There is nothing to show. The body,
all simple and music. This goes into that
like money into the belt's orbit.
Ricardo Pau-Llosa's most recent book, The Mastery Impulse, is due out from Carnegie Mellon in 2003. His previous two books are Cuba (1993) and Vereda Tropical (1999).