Merry Summer Solstice!

Merry Summer Solstice!
El Sol

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

To April's delights, Nizar Qabbani, and National Poem In Your Pocket Day 2015! Put a poem in your back pocket on Thursday, April 30th ~

I Want To Write Different Words For You

I want to write different words for you
To invent a language for you alone
to fit the size of your body
And the size of my love

I want to travel away from the dictionary
And to leave my lips
I am tired of my mouth
I want a different one
Which can change
Into a cherry tree or a match box
A mouth from which words can emerge
Like nymphs from the sea,
Like white chicks jumping from the magician’s hat.

Nizar Qabbani
Translated from the Arabic by K. Frangieh and Clementine R. Brown

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Here's to poetry that surrounds us, and to Richard Blanco!

The Island Within

   for Ruth Behar

I’m still thinking about your porch light
like a full moon casting a foggy halo
in the frigid air last night, the bare oaks
branching into the sky like nerve endings
inches away from the frozen stars,
the pink gables of your Victorian home
protesting yet another winter for you
captive in Ann Arbor as you practice
mambo by the fireplace. I’m following
your red-velvet shoes to conga beats
and bongo taps taking your body, but
not your life, from the snow mantling
your windows outside, 1,600 miles
away from Cuba. I’m tasting the cafecito
you made, the slice of homemade flan
floating in burnt sugar like the stories
you told me you can’t finish writing,
no matter how many times you travel
through time back to Havana to steal
every memory ever stolen from you.

You’re a thief anyone would forgive,
wanting only to imagine faces for names
chiseled on the graves of your family
at Guanabacoa, walk on Calle Aguacate
and pretend to meet the grandfather
you never met at his lace shop for lunch,
or pray the Kaddish like your mother
at the synagogue in El Vedado, stand
on the steps there like you once did
in a photo you can’t remember taking.
I confess I pitied you, still trying to reach
that unreachable island within the island
you still call home. I thought I was done
with Cuba, tired of filling in the blanks,
but now I’m not sure. Maybe if I return
just once more, walk the sugarcane fields
my father once cut, drive down the road
where my mother once peddled guavas
to pay for textbooks, sit on the porch
of my grandmother’s house, imagine her
still in the kitchen making arroz-con-leche
maybe then I’ll have an answer for you
last night when you asked me: Would you
move to Cuba? Would you die there?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Here's to National Poetry Month and April in all of her yellow dresses ~


I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

Translated from the Polish by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh 

Check out what they are doing in Miami, at O, Miami ~