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La Muchacha

15 Apr

Gisela la muchacha
called me Niña Lupita
though she was only
two years older than I

While she cooked and cleaned
I watched TV, after school
learning Spanish from telenovelas
Gisela, watching from the kitchen

Two teenaged girls, learning about life
the haves and the have nots
campesinas longing for joy in the big city
poor girl in love with the patrón, or his son

No one wants to explain
to a 13 year old gringa
why she’s not supposed to befriend
the 15 year-old maid

I knew Gisela had dreams
and they weren’t my laundry
she had no skills, and no money
her prospects were grim

How can you tell a girl like Gisela
get an education, when there’s none to be had?
And grow up in front of them
with a life laid before you?

I still remember Gisela’s shy smile
she’d hide it behind her hand
and after she left,
I tried to understand

to this day I still struggle
with the unfairness of it all
and it’s still hard to not be friendly
with the muchachas

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Guayaquil, a city of over a million people in Ecuador.

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La Gringa

13 Apr

Mirame a los ojos y dime de donde vengo
quienes son mis padres y cual es mi nombre

Lupita Maria, me dices, bella como tu madre
pero disculpame, como diablo se pronuncia

el apellido de tu padre? y cuando
abres la boca nadie te entiende

People look at me and ask
where do you come from?

and I know there will never be
a simple answer to that question

my face does not match
my name does not match

my voice does not match
it’s a trifecta of confusion

you must be Native American
I say I am of the tribe of New Jersey

But you don’t have an accent,
what exit? they smirk

105 and 109, I reply
with authority and pride

So where did Lupe come from?
It’s my mother’s name

Is she Mexican?
No, she is Ecuadorean

Oh, that explains it
the Incan connection

your English is so good
I’ve been speaking it since birth

but their eyes have glazed over
and they will never really know

who I am, and most importantly
where I come from

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Audacity

12 Apr

Audacity:

is an acquired taste, 16;
is the difference between dreaming and doing, 16;
means the same in French, 18;
not to be confused with aspiration, 18;
served her well, 26;
she had been accused of having too much, 21;
the perfume she wore, 19;
was her brand of courage; 28;
was her middle name, 35;
you can still see it in her eyes, 44.

 

audacity

Audacity:
a : intrepid boldness (Merriam-Webster)

Today’s prompt over at NaPoWriMo for Day 12 is to write an index poem. I invented mine, and included page numbers that actually reference certain points in my life, to add a little biographical flavor to it. My index is in alphabetical order.

Sevenling: Dances with words

10 Apr

I love the way you rub
parts of words together, the friction
of a tango, a waltz, a samba

It’s not so much
about the vowels, or the consonants,
but the implications in between

You spin me right round, baby, right round.

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A Sevenling poem for Dverse. Just something new.

 

Legacy

7 Apr

At twelve
my teacher said
“Your story has promise.”
I never forgot, her words fueled
my dream.

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A cinquain that I wrote yesterday at a workshop with Yvette Hyater-Adams in Jacksonville, FL during the Jax Poetry Fest. This form is really interesting in that it uses 5 lines, with each line having a different syllable count. Generally, the form, which was devised by Adelaide Crapsey, encompasses a story arc, where the first line talks about beginnings, the second line is about pursuit of aspiration, the third line has a twist or a conflict, the fourth a resolution, and the fifth provides insight.

Amaneció / Day Broke

6 Apr

(English quasi-translation below)

Llegó el alba
tocándonos el hombro y
como cuando jóvenes ignoramos
la vieja chaperona
del amanecer

sentí tus caricias
tus manos en mi pelo
mientras tus labios piadosos
devolvieron mi aliento, poco a poco
regresándome al presente

fueron los pájaros
quienes nos delataron
sonando la alarma
mi cabeza en tu pecho
el sol amenazándonos a través de la persiana

llegó el alba
desvaneciendo mi sueño
pero aún siento
el sabor exquisito
de tu boca.

Sunrise on the south end of Pawleys Island

Sunrise on the south end of Pawleys Island

I woke up in the most tantalizing way this morning, and that blissful dream is the basis for my poem today. I am writing it in response to the prompt for Day Six for NaPoWriMo, which is to write an Aubade, or a poem about the morning. Mornings are special to me, I love their freshness, their promise, and the newness of day. I love experiencing the morning with the birds singing brightly, and a stillness that is almost palpable as the trees wake up to start their day.

I wrote it in Spanish originally and the quasi-translation is below. I call it a quasi-translation because there is an extra line and some variations that I think work better in the English than in the original Spanish. This is another example of how the English counterpart of  verses originally composed in Spanish complements and completes the poem. In a true translation, I would never do this and just keep the lines as close to the original as possible. [Last edited June 13, 2017]

 

Day Broke

First light arrived
tapping us on the shoulder
and like teenagers we ignored
the elderly chaperone of dawn.

I felt your caresses
your hands in my hair
as your merciful lips
restored my breath, bit by bit
returning me to the present

It was the birds
who sounded the alarm
my head on your chest
sunlight slicing through the blinds

Dawn broke through
it scattered my dream
yet, alone on this bed
I can still sense the exquisite taste
of your mouth.

Down with the Sails

5 Apr

Wild nights Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Down would come the sails
Naked in the moonbeams we
As our Wild nights should be
Our secret luxury!

Futile the calling winds
My Heart seduced in your port
Done with the Compass
Done with the Chart!
My Q flag a flying
My wheel lashed up short.

Rowing in a blissful Eden
Ah rocking in time with the Sea!
My heart tugs at the anchor
Open your arms to harbor me
Might I but moor tonight
Dear sir, In thee!

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It’s a poetic arts & crafts project for day five of NaPoWriMo. Today’s prompt is to choose a poem by Emily Dickinson, then deconstruct and reconstruct it. I chose Wild Nights – Wild Nights! (no surprise there). I incorporated a little bit more of the ‘sailboat in port’ metaphors. I was never fully satisfied with her original poem to begin with, so this was a nice chance to doctor it up a bit.

What it is Not

1 Apr

What is it not?
No one ever asks but
it is not five times seven times three
it is not forty degrees north
seventy four degrees west

it is not found
like a penny on the sidewalk
or passed over, or let go altogether
because budget cuts
because the market these days

it isn’t able to be deleted
like a voice mail we didn’t listen to
or muted
like a conversation that bores us
it is not fruitful to ignore

it isn’t about giving leftovers to a stranger
on the corner, with no teeth
it isn’t about saying yes
and meaning no, not really
and it is not your very favorite song

it won’t bite you
nor whine in your ear all night
and you can’t hold it, so
you didn’t expect it
to purr in your hand

and despite your best intentions
to appear nonchalant
it won’t ask you to stay
nor will it give you a choice
either way.

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National Poetry Month is here! The challenge of NaPoWriMo is to write a poem every day for 30 days. There are prompts all over the web to help you accomplish this. I chose to use today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo.net, which was to write a poem of negation. Sounded fun and interesting to me, so I gave it a shot. Hope you like it, and join us this month in writing poems every day.

Click on the button to hear me read this poem out loud:

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