Walt McDonald
Traveling after Retirement


So that's how it's done, one hot hotel at a time,
towns jammed with tourists looking for magic
in mangoes, dancing, tangerines. In heat like that,

nobody bathes, or forgets to towel completely dry.
Saints and pilgrims glisten, percale shirts
sticky on every back and shoulder we bump,

clumps of bodies clogging sidewalks,
people grinning with somewhere to go.
Trumpets pump staccato tunes with guitars

in that cantina, the one we're shoved beyond,
caught like swimmers in a summer flood.
Old friends swore retirement could be

like touring border towns. Let go, they urged,
leave snow behind, and travel. The music's
everywhere, even cops with whistles, tone deaf

but loud, ignoring cars slung low that bounce
and shudder, windows up, so many amps nobody shouts,
each car a boom box, a bass jackhammer

and we're the bricks it's breaking up.
The car rolls by at last and music's back,
red-faced cornet with the same guitar,

different cantina but the same cop sweaty,
directing traffic, tweeting his whistle.
The crowd's a dance marathon, jostling past

the best discounts, store windows with rings
and imported watches, street jammed
with fox-trot sweethearts about to tango,

widows and other old couples with shopping bags
and cameras crossing a parking lot
and climbing aboard the bus.