I rarely write poems of my own, but when I do, I will put them here.
In those days we went to beaches on bicycles,
or in somebody’s surf-wagon;
Later we walked, crossing grassy dunes,
or rode in cars
(from the top of the Coast Range or the Serra do Mar,
you see the ocean)
We have gone by boat, returning at sunset
(the sky a glowing bowl over the Gulf, with porpoise jumping),
or along a glinting river, trees blurry in vaporous heat;
And by train, from Sants to Sitges or Cadaquès—
But lately I go by truck, bus, and collective van
From the southern beaches the oldest bus drops you in Miraflores
An Avenida Arequipa van takes you downtown and home
(En Uruguay bajo, you say to the driver as you get on)
sharp Pacific water
From the market at Sutiava in León, Nicaragua,
a school bus drives to Peñitas;
at sunset again, walk down a country road to pick up the route;
once in town, stroll sandy across the square, behind the cathedral
as in Bahia,
having hitched on a truck from Piatã, while
in central Havana a 1954 Chevy packed with people
glides east to a glassy sea;
Now on Maraval Road a man in gray
dredlocks boards the bus
With him a butane tank
And the driver, why you carry that?
Because I am a working man.
(I am calypsonian, says the Indian neighbor,
my name is Lord Renegade.)
In peals of laughter we turn and top the hill.
The sea comes into view and the
green water with rocks.
I wrote “Collective Van” in June, 2006, about a van ride I took from Port-of-Spain to Maracas Bay in Trinidad, West Indies.
Poema en Prosa
Familiarity begins at the airport where you identify your gate from far off because everyone has a cardboard box tied with rope, and is already dressed as they would dress at the destination. You leave at night and fly for hour upon hour, watching the map as you traverse almost half the globe.
The stamp in your passport is large and once you have it, you walk out to old fashioned smells of diesel fuel and leaded gasoline that give way as you ride out of town to earth and fresh cheese. People wear somber colors in one language and brightly embroidered clothes in another.
Although it is a primitive point of view I still think of flights south as going downwards, curving with the earth, entering a secret dimension as they pass the Equator, going home.
“Poema en Prosa” was part of a blog post.
CENSORED FOR PURPOSES OF DISCRETION. “Esperpento” was an e-mail whose recipient said I had a flair for dramatic dialogue, although I do not know that it is any better than, or even as good as some other dramatic dialogues I present in this weblog. It is not easily anonymized so I cannot reproduce it here. I must create full characters and a full text so as to write a new Confederacy of Dunces as an esperpento, giving credit and part of the royalties to the student whose original idea that was. Hint to me for later, when I do archaeology on myself and/or truly become a creative writer: search all files for the word esperpento.
Luxury, Calm, and Voluptuousness (late June 2008, after coming home from Peru)
Really, I think a more idiomatic translation of the Baudelaire line would be luxury, calm, and pleasure, but I find ‘voluptuousness’ to be more precise. My garden is overgrown; I am weeding it and cutting it back. I do not get enough outdoor exercise and gardening is wonderful. After an hour or two the very color of the air seems to change, glowing with life, and the slanting sun comes in through every pore. Opulence is standing in bee-buzzed air not mixed with vehicle or factory smoke.
Flash Poem (2016)
My mother’s scarves gathered dust when they weren’t worn.
Early on I washed some I might wear
to make them mine,
and clear the smell of death from me.
It has been two years.
How long will the unwashed scarves hold her smell,
her perfume and that of her closet in a house also gone?
(I think that to be a New Yorker style poem this needs significant pensive and experimental expansion before the last two lines. That way the reappearance of the scarves at the end will be more clever, and they will not be the only element.)