In a certain city of white tenements
and wind lashed blue banners I stand waiting
for a train in an empty station, the wind
sending scraps of paper tumbling down
the tracks; archives of lists, directions to..,
time tables, sacred texts scrawled on napkins.
In a certain city of white, tenements
and wind lashed blue banners I stand waiting
for a train and unexpectedly I think
of you which causes me to sway gently
as if bumped in line by an impatient passenger
and you hurry on and sit next to the window-
you now gaze out silently from my eyes
till the next to last station where you
exit with the other memories that have
their appointments and performances to attend.
On a different day in and a certain city of white,
tenements and slacked blue banners I stand waiting
for a train, in an empty station.
I think of a different day and remember us
which causes the platform to sways gently.
Suddenly I am aware of the beating of my heart.
If I were to write
The first man
The first woman
Would be born from
The heart of Cuba
Where angels live
Among us, rolling
Cigars. Wait for
Trains and drink
Coffee. In Cuba
Man and angels
Would be one family
The one hidden
To the other like two
Sisters caught by the
Camera just before
Laughing — one sister
With wings hidden
Under her dress.
See the shoeshine,
He is an Archangel,
His sword hidden in
A box. In Cuba
It would all begin.
From the Cane fields
Adam would rise.
Sweet and coarse
And Eve, emerge from
The beating of a drum
We would all dance
And carry dolls—
and wait for the moment
As if it were a summer
Storm moving toward
Us — filled with letters
Unexpected the trees
tell us something urgent,
threatening to blossom at the first
sign of our acknowledgement
of who we really are. Off
toward a distant horizon;
rumbling. In the air the presentiment
of rain – a sudden warm gust of wind
the last surrendered sigh of the last
sunset of the last day of everything
that has gone before.
the first gentle
tears of the first rain,
of all the days
to come, fall
on our faces.
After Maria Elena Cruz Varela, for Linnea
Say that I am welcomed, that I have gone mad
that sadness is a country finally conquered
by the fragrance of flowers, that the dawn runs
in circles in my heart like a tiger & will leap
from my hands to grasp her waist one more time. Say
that the history I ransom, with salt & time, is mine
& mine alone. That it is good to be spent, and to blaze
like a match & say to her in my bed, that my name is
the only name that matters, that the sea will find her
wandering in desert, that the falling stars she gathers
will be a gift for her daughter’s hair & tell her that
my heart was born in her gaze, that it is good to set
the caged birds’ free. Say that we have bound our wounds
with light, that we are good, that we are free, that we have paid
our debts & that our entwined bodies have become luminous.
Let me tell you of the home I will build for you my love. I will build
you a fine home where the front door is made of laughter and when you
knock on the door it giggles and asks the knocker to stop knocking,
because being a door made from laughter, it tends to be ticklish, and
it would be greatly appreciative if they, the knocker, would be so
disposed as to use the door bell.
Once inside our home, visitors will be inclined to notice the special
wallpaper that runs down the length of the West facing hallway. This
is a very rare wallpaper that I will have to travel far and wide to
find, it being made of butterflies. Every visitor will attempt get
closer to look at the patterns of this paper, and as their curious
noses get closer, the butterflies will become startled and being held
to the paper by only the whispers of love, they will take flight; then
all of a sudden the front room of our home will be swarming with
butterflies of so many colors, like flying flowers from a botanist’s
illustrated book. I can see it now.
Once the flutters stop fluttering, our visitors will find their way
into the main room which is centered on and large dinning room table
with a menagerie of chairs encircling it and by a lovely kitchen.
The table is large so large there is a coin operated telescope at one
end. Most visitors will be startled when pressing their eye into the
eye piece they are able to see their long lost loves smiling and
dancing around the table. At the other end of the longest table,
there will be another coin operated telescope, this one looking back
and them. Everyone will be startled love, when they see their younger
self looking back at them.
Now let me describe the chair at the head of the table. This chair
will be made by peculiar craftsman that I have found living in a
village in Algeria. it will be made from the light of the setting sun
that set in Skikdah, on a certain day when joy was especially
prevalent. We will need to invent special spectacles so that the
ornate designs that I will have carved into the sun chair by the
smiles of summer children playing in the sea refusing to come home
when they are called by their parents, can be appreciated without
The chair at the other end of the table, will be, of course as you
know, made from the moonlight that cast shadows across our faces the
night we first met; that same moon that all the flying fish tried to
coax closer to the sea with their aerial acrobatics and their daring
feats of flying that made you say,
Now to the chairs sitting on either side of the table, these I will
make of worn stone that I will borrow from country fireplaces; those
stones that have been polished smooth by generations of stories about
love, and adventure, those stones that warmed every imagination till
the last ember popped and closed its eyes, tired as the rest of the
And then there will be the kitchen. Here will be hearth and heart of
our home, where the cabinets will be made of the same material as the
front door; they being cousins, and of course as you have always said,
“What kitchen is worth its salt with out laughter?”
I see you wrestling a hot wind back under a pot, since our stove will
work by winds, zealous Zephyrs from Greece and Solicitous Siroccos
from the Saharan sands and Leveches out of Libya, their
mischievousness not always appreciated when they are supposed to be
warming the butter. You will smile and flinging the little zephyrs
under the pan. You are the Queen of the home I will build you.
While you cook for our myriad of guests, I will show them the rest of
our home. I will show them the room that is just for old umbrellas
and the room just for birdsong. I will show them the library filled
with our writing and with low voices singing love and stories never
heard before and where angels will chase each other among the folios.
I will show them the attic made of glass so that in the end all of
life’s secretes will be revealed. I will show them our bedroom and
they will be impressed by the soft and billowing bed I have made for
us, from your nights dreams and our love sighs. And of course the
headboard will also too be made from the same material as the door
that delights with its random laughter.
From our room to the spare bedroom, this room will be well welcoming
to anyone who wants to stay over, even with the small cloud sulking in
the corner. I will tell our guests about the rules of the home where
the inappropriate use of thunder and lightening from a small cloud
indoors is never allowed, especially thunder and lightening that is
meant only to torment the cats. Young clouds are in need of an
appropriate time out from time to time.
Oh the home I will build for you and the room we will build for our
child, ahhhh this room cannot be described my love, because there are
no words in any language to describe this room. I have looked in odd
and diverse Encyclopedias, corresponded with architects of mysterious
buildings and dark women of letters, and to no avail. Let it be as
the Gypsy King said
“Let music not words be the way to show what the beauty of this room will be.”
Alas, can you hear it my love?
Lastly I will build our garden. Many will be impressed with the
fountains and the peacocks whose hundred eyes of their feathers will
tell the future of our guests and by the fireflies and humming birds
that will chase each other around the yard. The yard will be filled
with the sound of small chimes, each flown around by dragonflies and
the tinkling caused by their constant play of near misses and proofs
of daring. And this, this will only be possible because of you my
love and your patience, for the hummingbirds, fireflies and
dragonflies will, eventually after much deliberation, will always do
as you request.
Many will be speechless and will not know what to say when they
visiting the home I will build for you and fewer still will understand
that this is not just a home, but is my portrait of you.
Habana – I must leave you!
because the night clanks through
your dark streets, mechanical
and the night is dragging itself sparking
against the stones of the streets and its sparks
are only an approximation of stars,
Because of your numerous eyes I have
sold my typewriter; and scribble these
line inside my head. Everyone’s fields
have started to burn, even my field is aflame
with the books that I have written or should
have written, tonight the hills have an eerie glow
of war, while the inside and the outside
of apartment walls argue, jealous of the other
not knowing the difference hasn’t mattered
for years. I am tired of all this! Habana,
I must leave you. Hurry we must pack
our shadows, and our shirts. O how our words
have become palsied, ours has become a sad
language of gestures and daily white flags.
Hurry we must leave before our words fail us
we must leave my love, everyone has gone before us,
by grave or by sea even the moon has left
as a stowaway on a borrowed boat.
Balthazar’s father is sitting in the chair with its back to the front door, weeping. This makes Balthazar very uncomfortable. He walks slowly past him, opening the screen door slowly and once past the threshold, takes off in a flash. The screen door slams back against the door frame with its tinny thud. Balthazar’s father shaken by the sudden noise hurriedly wipes the tears from his eyes, “Balthazar is that you?” But Balthazar is already across the lawn and entering the backwoods. Walking through shadow and light Balthazar thinks of adults crying. He never saw an adult cry before, not one and was trying to understand why he ran. Maybe it’s because, he thought, that once you grew up and were an adult, all that crying stuff would be over. He thought about it a lot and had been pretty set on the idea that being sad was a kid thing. Maybe he was wrong after all and that was too much to imagine.