In Panama the kid...

called a place "home" that is not a place anymore

made pea shooters from the long, hollow stems of papaya leaves, and cut long stalks of yellow bamboo with a machete to build forts that could withstand papaya bombs

Boy Scouted on a trail built by the conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa, camped in old Army surplus canvas pup tents with bullet holes from unknown WWII battles, and dined on k rations, complete with little packs of chocolates and cigarettes

kicked huge venomous toads across the lawn until they were skin-bags of bones and mush, back into the sewer from which they came

ate bunches of guinups and boxes of Chinese plums, never worrying about the rat hairs the mothers warned were in there

had a nice little Panamanian maid who spoke no English and made big pots of arroz con pollo while stirring a hormonal stew that could only be eaten by hand

paddled a cayuco in Gatun Lake and surfed at Rio Mar and Tits Beach, so named for its voluptuous break, only to find the car trunk burgled and unwarranted blame laid on his skinny shoulders

ran barefoot across blistering black iron sand that you could pick up with a magnet

saw both oceans on a clear day from the top of Baru

got wasted on lil green devils and Panama Red and yearned for that girl, you know the one, the blond with the heavenly rack and the horned rim glasses

saw a friend, no more than a budding teen, run off into the slummy wilds of Panama City, never to come back, because he got wasted on Manchild in the Promised Land

waited for the little Panamanian pin boys to set up the pins before bowling the next frame

never considered the strange blessing of it all


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