What we see seldom asked
who considers the gaps in between
those tucked-in places our field of vision
ignored crudely splattered forced into display :
this is another was to say “landscape.”
sable palms frame a green composition
which is really a myriad-pocketed schema
which within its pockets the wind lies
murdered by us for whom nothing but
the margins seem to sway to create
an event in time which only happened
to this viewer myself say
at the car-park at my girl’s kindergarten.
Both composer and spectator
make-up any given moment alive
Both victim and perpetrator–
actor-spectator—both seer and non-seen
Now back to my green-framed landscape
where the mundane miracle...
De veras que soy atrevido porque soy licenciado en Literatura Inglesa, y solo me han publicado en ése idioma…pero daría el huevo izquierdo por poder escribir con soltura en Español. Me identifico culturalmente como Cubano, pero los Cubanos en Cuba no me acceptan como uno de ellos. Nací acá, en NY, pero por supuesto el Americano me rechaza. Y me pregunto: no soy mas cercano a un guajiro de Batabanó en casa del culo del perro, que con alguien de Mississippi, Alabama, Wisconsin, Kansas, etc? Estoy cansado de vivir en el guion, pero me tocó el emblema “Cubano–Americano”…a otros le trocarían la Era Especial, y a otros La Guerra de los Diez Años, y mas atrás, a otros el genocidio de Diego Velázque...
Just this morning it happened: June’s plague.
Squirrels by the dozen descended from nearby trees
choice yellow mangoes left violated, bitten on the vine.
Mosquitoes similarly stung a feast on my ankles
and beside me, turned my dog’s butternut flank red.
I drank a cup of coffee followed by a glass of water.
And I remembered a woman who sits zazen with us
All she does is tell us about how her husband left:
how she wants to die and then kill him–unaware
of her irony. I wonder: am I any different?
The ants that march by me in single file
each one carrying a crumb from last night,
the coffee that wakes me, the blood I let
to mosquitoes swarmed at my ankles,
the squirrels’ mango...
I would also be St. Kevin, and ignore what keeps us from working with him, from emulating his example. I would work to a loss of self–a no-self–only gesture. Not for reward but to strive for the thing itself. To become the thing itself. To tree.
ST. KEVIN AND THE BLACKBIRD
And then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so
One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a crossbeam, when a blackbird lands
and Lays in it and settles down to nest.
Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,
Is moved to pity: now he...
I am more than what I decide to get done today
part mole on my grandmother’s cheek
some belittling gesture my grandfather made.
The indignant patriot before a righteous machete charge,
I was in his cold coffee this morning.
My aunt’s secret Charleston dances, when she decided to cut her hair short
the raindrop that fell into my mother’s eye at her wedding
my father’s ashes leavened with regret for having left Cuba,
and the pair of shoes he got when his mother died.
I’m standing between two mirrors back and forth,
forward and aft, as on a ship, and focus past
the echoes of my ancestors reflected to a point
just past the horizon….
…I am an unseen decision made in the dark.
The dead just...
front cover, In the Shadow of Bois Hugo: The 8th Lincolns at the Battle of Loos by Nigel Atter, Peter Simkins (Foreword)
Atter’s book covers the story of a battalion going first into action in the Battle of Loos, France in 1915. The Lincoln’s (Lincolnshire County’s) 8 Battalion is an example of what was even then being called Kitchener’s Army. This was the first nationwide enlisting effort in Britain, personified by Lord Kitchener in his personal appeal for more men, in reaction to the fact that the original BEF was all but gone by 1914’s end. There was a critical shortage of manpower on the British front facing the German trenches from Ypres snaking southwards to Artois.
Day old bread and this morning’s coffee
tastes like opportunity all over again
I know the milk is off by now, the coffee saccharine
the bread’s crust limp with rancid butter
but so is my forgotten To-Do list from much earlier
written in tired pencil, no room for error
its eraser long since gone
thus goes my life I’m tempted to say
and another day drips off
I didn’t visit my ailing mother
and my father’s ashes still lie here, in an alien country
one that showed itself to him with as much promise
as my to-do list did me this morning
I feed my daughter fried zucchini and finish this poem later.
All I ever am is one man with one day to fill right.