Excerpt for Tropica by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Copyright 2017, Erik Ash

Smashwords Editions

Table of Contents

Odes to Tropica

Tropica in Clouds and Steel


Tropica’s Flight

Bejeweled Beaches

Tropica’s Palace

Ghosts on the Water

Tropica in the City of Salt and Rust

River Tramp

Tropica’s Squalor

The Barmaid

Tropica in the Hovel

The Riverside Ballad

Tropica in the River

Odes to Tropica


Tropica of luscious lands,

verdant beauty blushing from every pore.

Her waves lap upon the sand.

Her sweet dew sparkles upon the floor.

Rivers of hair cascade down her face,

blue… green… teal… curling rainbows of water;

a gentle, rushing, frenzied pace.

Cool nourishment drips upon her.

Caressing her body with sparkling sand

burning under the sun of her gaze.

Blissfully grasping the palm of her hands,

this balmy instant stretches for days.

The sweet citrus of her scent

ensnares and flares every sense.


The smooth reflection of clouds in the river,

gently lapping on a mellow day.

The thunderous rush of its stormy timbre,

a cool wind in a sweet bay.

The dolphins weave and play,

thrashing in the lazy flow

with dreams of tumultuous spray

while aquamarine ballads crow.

The city glimmers across the banks.

The smell of salt; death and life

wafts so thick and so dank,

stirring up thoughts of joy and strife.

Across the electric water Tropica traipse,

breezily burdened with thoughts of fate.


Staring in the swampy water,

through the sickly green of the algal depth.

And seeing all the struggling squalor,

I sigh a wretched breath.

Ducklings paddle and queak,

their yellow fluff burning under a cruel sun

while their parents beckon on murky trees.

An elder’s plight is never done.

Cranes twist their graceful necks

in swirling patterns against the plume

and croon for a mating peck.

A gentle lover, a gentle boon.

Tropica whistles a juicy tune

And all the green Earth smiles and swoons.


The sun blazes upon the beach,

frying the sand into shards of boiling oil.

Palm trees burn beyond shade’s reach,

roots screech in the fiery soil.

Dank, humid air fills the lungs,

drowning in the scorching heat.

Bleary-eyed, dripping with sweat flung

across the skin on scorching streets.

Gas rises from the boiling swamp,

drenching the wind in a fetid stench.

Crocodiles soak in the waters and romp,

a thrashing, vicious wretch.

Tropica soaks in the fierce light.

The piercing rays content all fright.


The wisps of the whispering willows

weep in the wind.

Birds sing crescendoing trillows

while lovers seek nests to tend.

A thick bed of life scurries under shadows,

under the trees’ gnarled limbs,

sulking in the murky shallows.

Red in tooth and red in sin.

The fetid scent of the swamp

drifts through the air

marinating the noxious soup.

This far deep, it’s dangerous to care.

Tropica meditates under the thick leaves.

Nature trembles as she breathes.


Soft, the rain falls upon the blushing plants

as the waves blossom into loving swells.

Wind hunts down the breeze and supplants

verdant serenity and gentle bells.

Musky rain pelts my skin.

Grumbling from a darkening sky,

a pouty mood, anger hurling within.

The mighty gators leap, tiny lizards cry.

The luscious plants, dripping wet,

bask in the nourishing mud,

casting out their nurturing nets

as fruiting flowers bud.

Tropica touches the dew.

All the lands drink in her brew.


The trees drip weeping soliloquies,

splashing upon the greedy grass.

The flora clashes with enmity,

their sulking tendrils grasp and clasp.

The river grows pregnant with mad desire

as the banks grow moist and slick.

The gentle flow bursts with white fire.

The brackish waters mix into pungent milk.

Puddles expand on the streets,

ominous holes in the concrete filth,

watering the urban spelunking seeds;

Splitting through the cracks with nature’s will.

Steely ferocity glows in Tropica’s eyes,

as the world takes cover from her sighs.


The ocean swirl

and the waves heave.

A great, bubbling broil

churns the snarling sea.

An oppressive grey crushes the air.

Threatening winds curl and sway.

Cower and hide, lest you fall in the snare

of its violent cry, its enraged bray

Lightning like a demon’s tongue

snakes across the sky.

Thunder like the apocalypse drum

beats fear in every eye.

With a wondrous tantrum boiling in her throat,

Tropica roars a melody of pounding notes.


The winds howl with hate,

torturing the screeching palms.

The sea teeters on a tantrum of fate.

The rain beats with the chaos of hellish drums.

Homes rip apart at their flimsy seams.

Glass shatters, splattered with projectile debris.

Shattered miseries and shattered dreams,

a roiling mess of soiled seas.

Lightning flashes in an electric ocean,

the tropics tremble under the thunderous roar.

Blue fire ignites the wind and floats

across the city in a glamourous soar.

Tropica is blazing in loathsome rage,

twisting apart this serene cage.


In the eye of the storm sweeps a calm wind.

Tropica stands upon the coast, foaming with flotsam.

Whispering our wickedest sins,

She pledges to never be so loathsome.

Shattered shards of wood litter the ruins

amongst the wheezing scent of the broken breeze.

Tropica kicks the broken glass and woos

the darting animals cowering in the seas.

Tropica, lady of salt and juice,

where the stinging water meets the broiling sun.

She sucks the sweet milk of exotic fruits

and frolics in the debris of erotic fun.

Her glittering twilight kingdom of the tropics

shines with terror and scalding promise.

Tropica in Clouds and Steel

Where the celestial meets the terrestrial,

Tropica awaits, sunglasses askew in coquettish charm.

She sits at the wheel of a rumbling jalopy,

rusted and whining in the burning humidity.

Blaring down the highway,

reckless and ferocious,

while music swirls with feckless regales

of sleepy drug-fueled tales.

It seeps through her speakers,

thick with beauty and sadness and fear,

like the roiling clouds of a lazy storm.

Tropica hums the melody

with nuanced perfection.

Driving through the sleepy outskirts

of scrounging laborers

writhing in rage

under the shadow of wealth.

Rabid dogs and feral cats prowl the unkempt fields,

stalking through the sticky air.

Children weep,

crushed under the weight of a rusting wheel.

Tired TVs flash in sagging homes.

Tropica steels herself forth.

These sights,

tropical and rusting.

These scents,

sweet and fetid.

These people,

burning and burnt.

This is all her domain.


Snoring, boring, silence roaring,

an ominous chorus, ever mourning.

Death tears at the aching mooring,

holding murky court every morning.

Beneath the night’s inky water

lies an abyss, a horror.

A prison, a morgue.

A warden, a coroner.

In death, we all rot in our lonesome corner.

Death stalks your slackening breath,

pressing deep upon the breast.

At every breath,

in every depress and every crest,

You can never stop, never rest

lest you be trapped in its rotten nest.

It’s death.

It’s death.

Tropica’s Flight

Tropica spent her life on the run,

running from the shadow of boredom,

the specter of sadness,

the lingering scent of death.

All she wanted was warmth and fun.

Every day and every night,

every gulp and every bite,

Death stalked the shadow of her sight.

During every nightly dance,

embraced in a holy trance,

Death prowled on, ever on the advance.

Tropica could feel Death in the din.

Her sea skin grew chilled and cracked thin.

her eyes weary,

crusted and bleary,

salty breath wheezing.

One bitter summer,

in the moist, drooling air,

Tropica raged against the specter,

End this pursuit, stay this plight!

I shan’t go into that endless night!”

And so she fled across the continent,

across the parched deserts

and rocky mountains,

across grassy fields

and rusty dens,

across lurching rivers

and wretched fens.

Until she reached the ocean sands,

that endless blue expanse.

She built a fortress on that land,

keeping Death at bay,

basking in the sun

and the sweet scent of bursting fruit

in the massaging breeze.

Tropica tended her new domain

and it waxed thick with life.

Yet Death still pursued,

like a creeping fungal ooze.

Bejeweled Beaches

Beautiful bodies scintillating in the sun,

muscular and stretching,

oiled and sparkling with lithe sweat.

Slim bits of bright cloth

doth cover their pulsing parts

that glimmer like stars

in the ocean.

To lick the nectar

quick and deep.

To breathe its fair and pungent air.

To run rowdy and naughty,

let the juices spill over my body.

Sighing and longing,

I’m forever drowning

in my corporeal, corpulent form.

Tropica’s Palace

Tropica built a palace in the shallow seas,


with a bombastic coral sheen

while whales sing

a choral march.

Soaking in the sun-bombed waters,

pampered by balmy fragrances.

Sipping giggling cocktails in the shade,

listening to the tall tales of mermaids.

Tropica lived in joy,

surrounded by beautiful toys

and the sweet flesh

of ripe fruits,

supple and sensuous

in the undulating waves.

But Death massed his forces,

throwing a heaving tide of poison

against her royal buttress.

Her halls filled with smog and gas,

fires raging through her crumbling holdfast.

Tropica slipped quietly out the back

and waded into the river,

into the rusting city.

Ghosts on the Water

Broken stakes of a forgotten pier

jut out from the grey water.

Joyous afternoons in the family boat

bob along with bubbling soda and beer.

Memories of ancient tankers,

hauling their rusted masses against the current,

groan in the deep wind.

The piers lie fallow, but the city yet shines.

New lives still hustle,

still bustle in the streets,

while the memories,

the ghosts,

dissipate in the breeze.

Tropica in the City of Salt and Rust

Tropica swam among the sickly dolphins

and the mangled manatees,

choking in the brackish brine

that grinds against the lungs.

Where concrete meets the sea,

the threshold between sea and shining city.

The twisted metal of dead piers

and their wretched peers

screech with burdensome fears.

Slurping waves lap upon the shore,

suckling upon the rust and stone.

Sick lives and sick lines,

snorting poison in the penthouse.

Drinking noxious brews

of sugar and sultry booze.

The sweet scent of sex and laughter

hangs in the humid night,

the delight of frenetic sprites,

a lethal, seductive bite.

And crasser still in the slums downhill,

bodies rage and rave,

to retching riches they sang.

Tropica sank into the city,

absorbing its sights and sins,

reveling in the sweet nothings

that bubble within its din.

Soon Death swooped down

upon the town,

a plague of nauseous death.

Starving and bleary.

Weepy and fearing.

The city was set ablaze.

in a mangle of neon flames

Tropica took once more to flight,

to find those free explorers

who huddle in boiling light

while their hopes and loves fade

in the hopelessness of night.

River Tramp

Clothes stained with salt

and balking at affection,

the tramp lies sprawled upon the river

and quivers at the future.

Tankers lurch across the grey waters

where pirates once tramped

and camped,

guzzling thick gulps of wretched rum

and retching in the balmy woods.

The tramp imagines himself a buccaneer,

a romantic notion with a grim veneer.

A train rains across the rusted bridge

where the homeless once roamed

in epic tramps.

Stumbling on a trash-strewn beach

in the shadow of grumbling industry.

Ballooning graffiti makes a mockery

of jumbled memories and broken crockery.

The tramp raves about this vicious injustice,

the empty solace of screams in deafening wind.

Tropica’s Squalor

Tropica was ripped by the squalls

of a squealing world.

Tattered and soaked with burning rain,

begging for life, a bit of pain

in the unending sprawl

of trash and fraud.

Throat thick with boiling bile

in the shadow of crumbling buildings,

moldy and scorched from forgotten fires,

a tomb for the living,

a monument to the saved.

The wailing free.

The murderous brave.

Living in the shade of fear,

perpetual specters of rape

sneering in the opulent drapes.

No heroes in capes.

No stars of fate.

Just lives drowning in beer.

Shuddering in the crushing heat,

whimpering in the wind and deceit,

Tropica’s life began to flee,

a spree of horrors,

vignettes of terror and mockery.

She fled into a broken hovel,

shaking and disheveled.

The Barmaid

A pruned barmaid

in a pruned bar

in a pruned town,

like the shriveled husk of a fish

basking on a barren beach.

There is a quiet din in the nauseous stupor,

a familiar plague amongst the denizens

in this den of inertia.

The barmaid pours

glass after glass of crispy beer.

Sickly gulps in the sickly air.

The regulars boast of drudging affairs

and the drudgery of work.

Lives of honest, quiet love,

with firm-handed fights

and stolid bouts of sex.

They float in assembly line dreams

after nights of beleaguered drinks,

drenched in humid sweat.

The barmaid soaks in it.

Decades of misery.

Decades of love.

Decades of dreams.

The stench of it has seeped into her

like cigarette smoke in clothes.

Her tired eyes dart about,

looking for the grasping hands

of her tipsy chicks.

She craves the contented feeling

that comes from being wanted.

Her skin is wrinkled

with the crinkles of inebriated laughs

and an endless sun.

Her whole life blinks

in the flickering lights

of this groaning tavern.

It was sad.

It was joyous.

It was exhausting.

And it was good.

Tropica in the Hovel

The music played a creeping dirge

of old, forgotten blues.

Tired birds with mocking words

hummed the broken tunes.

Flickering neon in a simpering haze

begged for a simple gaze.

The TV blared erred narratives,

a story too dead to explain.

Tropica asked for liquor,

a flicker of light in the stale night,

too tired to run

too weak to fight.

Nothing left but pale and blight,

Tropica wept into her cup,

I’d rather be afraid of death

than welcome it with ease.

I’d rather beg and kick and scream

than live with serenity.”

Tired faces gazed upon her,

knowing nothing could be done.

There’s only one thing one can do:

Live till life is done.

Tropica retched her body forward,

stumbling out the door.

Her body shaking, soul aquiver,

to look upon the endless river

once more.

The Riverside Ballad

The old man sits on his porch,

strumming his guitar

while the fat river churns,

filling the air with its salty scent.

Aching memories twinkle

on his tinkling strings,

the beauties of his young life

and wife

and lovers rife

in the groan of his throat.

A solo symphony to the cartoonish palaces

where machines whipped around his childhood head,

now dead and alone

in sparking pulses.

A million forgotten faces cry out

amidst the scent of fried sweets.

He croons of past fights and houses,

an endless string of labors

for a golden prize that never came.

His guitar vibrates with weddings and beddings

and memories of joyous terror,

His daughter’s birth,

when she entered this world,

fleshly red and weeping

in the sterile chaos.

And her tone

when she gestured to her womb,

ecstasy and stress mingled

in the creases of her face.

The current of life never ceases.

And now he sits on his porch,

hair white with worry and fright.

Strumming his guitar

while the fat river churns.

Tropica in the River

And the river flowed on and on,

eroding flesh and dreams

and memories alike.

Weather beaten

in the heat

and the torrents of the blistering rain.

Convulsing on the street,

shocked with a current of joy and pain.

While a bursting chorus sang

hymns of hope and loss.

The time had come,

the setting of the sun,

Tropica waded into the stream.

Baptized by desire,

an extinguished fire.

Bursting from the ash,

organic at last,

Tropica joined the Great Expanse.

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