To read the most recent poem and recommendations regarding the Keys and Ft. Lauderdale click here. The pictures are also larger. The visit occurred in November, 2010.

KEY WEST - The Keys & Ft. Lauderdale area

Click here to go immediately to recommendations.
Key West Beach Scene
Taking in the sun
Truman's Little Whitehouse
Mallory Square -waiting for the big event
Sunset - The Big Event

The Jokester

Like lemmings
We fill the streets of Key West
Making our trek to Mallory Square
To honor the nightly ritual
Of watching the sun sink into the sea.

"Hey, hear a joke for 75¢!"
Asks a nearby voice.
A man, skin as dark as leather,
Sits with his hand lettered sign
That guarantees a laugh for the fee.
"Help me make my Lexus payment."

Intrigued I stop
Wondering who is this soul.
What has led him here
On this day our paths crossed.

The joke, a simple one,
Brought laughter to my face.
"Hey, where are you from?"
As I hand over a dollar.

"Ohio," my reply.

A pause, "I am from Shelby."
And I from nearby Galion.

Like long lost friends we talk,
He once a counselor who lost a lover
The weekend in Key West turns into years.
We speak of the Tigers and the Whippets
Arch rivals for decades.
While we reminisce,
A far off look glazes his eyes.

After awhile I bid farewell
To continue my short walk to the sea.
As the sun’s final light extinguishes,
I think of the jokester
And the different journeys
That brought us here today.

Comments: Key West is filled with individuals who have "dropped out" either running away from or running to something. The culture of the community accepts the Hemingways and the Trumans – the jokesters and the retirees. I met others who talked of their life altering experiences that eventually led them here. Each had his or her own story. Part of this journey was to listen to those stories but also to write my own. (Ed.: In November, 2004, I returned to Key West and tried to find the Jokester. He was no longer there. According to a couple locals, he left a few months ago.)

The Conch Train - Great way to travel
A long time local
Truman's Little White House
Hemingway Home

The Land of the Mangroves

Travel as far south and then west as the highway goes
To the Land of the Mangroves – Key West.
Eons ago their roots intertwined creating this tropical island.

Today, thousands of every ilk arrive
To discover a bit of the magic.
The bronzed and the beet red mingle and intermingle
Forming less permanent unions.
The prolific bars filled with raucous revelers
Gyrate well into the early morn.

Opposites, Hemingway and Truman
Were drawn to these legendary shores
Where a short stroll leads from the Atlantic to the Gulf.

Be forewarned!
Dally not too long,
Less the seeds take root
Forever tying you
To the Land of the Mangroves.
Comments: Comments: Geologists believe that the Keys were originally formed with the help of the Mangrove trees that are still ubiquitous to the area. Eons ago the roots intertwined, died, and regrew trapping sediment and encouraging the continued growth of coral. Over the centuries the Keys formed, all 800+ of them. Yearly, tens of thousands visit the Keys, the vast majority ending up in Key West. Evidenced by the behavior most are there for a good time. As described in the first poem and reinforced in this poem, some come to live the legends of which there are an abundance. In the 1800's pirates ruled the area until the military brought some stability. Another sort of legal piracy quickly evolved. Many of the Key West citizenry known as 'wreckers' began to live off the bounty from the frequent shipwrecks that ran aground on the surrounding coral. Eventually, with better navigational charts and instruments that occupation ended but not before turning many of the locals into millionaires. Later, the sponge industry came and went. Today tourism is the mainstay. If you take time to talk to some of the locals, you will find many who came for a vacation but never left. Hence, the last three lines of the poem.

Staying cool
Old home and flowers
One of many fine restaurants
Image that led to the poem

The Bouquet

The flowers of the bouquet
raise their faces to the Key West sun
absorbing for a final time the life-giving rays.
Each still willing to share its beauty.

The marble stone encases the remains
of a life once lived.
The bouquet hints of one still loved.
Soon the flowers will wilt
and return to the earth
much like the one they now honor.
Comments: As we walked the side streets of Key West we came upon the community cemetery. Because of the coral soil base, most of the encasements are above ground. One such white encasement intensely reflecting the tropical sun had a lone vase of flowers setting on it. The poem came from that moment of first seeing.

One of the evening street entertainers
Typical residential scene
The scene can be pretty wide

The Panhandler

The gentle waves roll in from a placid ocean,
.......the sun already 30º above the tranquil scene.
A Key West breeze, still mellow,
.......wipes the sleep from my eyes.
An occasional walker or gull invades my home.
The motorized sand groomer, doing its daily ritual,
.......groans across the beige carpet preparation for the day visitors.
The lone piece of furniture is already occupied by strangers.
But soon, the picnic table will be mine again.
An early morning swig of rum braces my body for the day.
The collapsed cardboard walls were unnecessary
.......for only stars shone through the night.
Soon, I will mount my bike and head to Hemingway’s town collect from the gawkers rations for survival.
For now, I’ll turn my home over to others.
But tonight, while the parties continue on Duval Street,
.......I will return, joined by a few neighbors and guests,
.......and dream of what was to be.

Comments: In a recent visit to Key West, I stayed at the Sheraton Suites just across from one of the beaches. Each morning I rose to do tai chi, some beach yoga, and journaling. One morning I sat at a picnic table and wrote. As I took in the scene, I spotted a man, obviously homeless, still asleep against the brick wall separating the beach from the sidewalk. Looking further, I saw that he was not alone. Hence, this poem was written from his perspective – at least, how I imagined it.

Click here for more pictures of South Florida including Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach,
and the Keys.
Click here for recommendations regarding Key West, the Keys, and Ft. Lauderdale area


Page 2 of the Keys and Ft. Lauderdale

Back to Travel Page

Beauty 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 home Travel