Dried fish and sacks of sugar,
rice and beans piled high on sheets,
crushed coffee, frying platinos,
coconut dulces and lemons.
Haitian contraband t-shirts from America,
shoes for an army mis-sized and tattered,
hand-stitched trousers and woven jackets,
straw hats with flowery bands about their middles.
Old women twirling strands of tobacco,
leaves burning in hand-carved pipes;
campo men haggling over burros,
looking longingly at domino bars;
soldiers swaggering with heavy guns,
forcing personal paths through the crowd;
shoe-shine boys tugging at my shirt,
offering to buff my sneakers for a peso.
The massacre of chickens, their feet pedaling
in buckets upside down;
the waiting of mules, picking at the scrabble
on the church lawn;
the chanting of flies, Te Deum hymns to the sun
and strips of meat.
The town I visited in the Dominican Republic had a regional market, which was the most amazing crossroads of goods and services. I had never seen anything quite like it, though I’d read about places like it in Bowles and Burroughs. In my neighborhood now I visit places like El Mercado Central and the Midtown Global Market that have a good mix of things, but no open-air poultry abattoir nor dried meat rotting in the sun.