zyskandar a. jaimot


            USES OF THE BANANA


(A treatise in horticulture funded by the United Fruit Company)


And I was serving tropical drinks

in that posh cafe

quenching arrogant souls

perfumed against the heat

all of us dying by degrees

And in you walked

your school years past

full of private boarding snobberies

where hired help tended

only the best cloistered gardens

camouflaging whispers

uttered by selfish tongues

cultured with proper generations of money

And I was serving tropical drinks

quenching arrogant souls

when you told me in that fashionable cafe

during the passing of a happy-hour

your boyhood recollections

of Central America’s bountiful harvests

all those "Great White Ships"

of your dear father’s fleet

and the power

of true Yanqui dollar diplomacy

Gathering fruit from a continent’s loins

your elegant arm outstretched

beckoning me to refill your glass

you said watching dark-skinned natives

carrying circumcised limbs

of banana trees up those rotting planks

deposited in the bleeding maw

of America’s dark hold —was difficult

And all the while

I was serving tropical drinks

perfumed against the truth

wondering about natives losing their colour

bleached away by a benevolent company

planting wreaths of pure pain

as you solemnly explained how one poor fellow

stung by a tiny green snake

dropped his precious cargo

Sliding in death — down that walkway


You plopped another oyster

of grey remorse into your mouth

devouring it like all the others

harvested without thought to feed only appetite

as you told me you would never forget that sight

full of imported rum

and the fresh snapped spines of bitter lime

in that fashionable cafe

all of us dying by degrees

patronized by your family’s yellowing wealth

passing a life of supposed happy hours

as you confessed to me it was such a pity

such a dreadful pity

about those poor fellows dying by degrees

and to charge this brief afternoon’s penance

to your chilling account of privilege.


Copyright © 2003 zyskandar a. jaimot.  All Rights Reserved.

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