Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo

Heart Diseases on Asymptote!

23 Apr Meme-type graphic depicting a woman in distress with the overlay of text "Caracas is a woman with a chest full of bullets. I am a foreigner next to so much lead." From "Heart Diseases" by Oriette D'Angelo, translated from the Spanish by Lupita Eyde-Tucker. This image is property of Asymptote Journal.

 

The past year, in addition to working on my own poetry, I embarked on a project translating the work of Venezuelan poet Oriette D’Angelo, who has been exiled from her native country since 2015. D’Angelo’s first book of poetry, Cardiopatías, won an award in Venezuela that same year.

Five of the poems from her award-winning book appear in the Spring 2019 issue of Asymptote, translated by me! To see how the world is embracing Oriette’s work brings me a ton of joy. Please jump over to Asymptote’s website and check them out, and if you like them, please jump back and let me know!!

Meme-type graphic depicting a woman in distress with the overlay of text "Caracas is a woman with a chest full of bullets. I am a foreigner next to so much lead." From "Heart Diseases" by Oriette D'Angelo, translated from the Spanish by Lupita Eyde-Tucker. This image is property of Asymptote Journal.

“Caracas is a woman with a chest full of bullets. I am a foreigner next to so much lead.” From “Heart Diseases” by Oriette D’Angelo, translated from the Spanish by Lupita Eyde-Tucker.

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Guest Poet: Isabel Alvear

21 Apr

The Park Awakens

Inside the park, dirt churning
The sandy soil moistly warming
The earth readying, fortifying
Nurturing, gathering power
Pushing up daffodils and lilies

Deep inhale, the smells of spring
Heat gathering as nature’s strength
Returns to give life, permeates
All through Jackie Robinson park
The dogs following her vigor
Gather scents feverishly, salivating
Zig-zagging, nuzzling the earth

Oft times like forensic scientists
Dogs are like the original CSI’s
Of the human domestic experience
Lifting one paw whilst noses buried
Smelling all creatures’ messages
Like the tulip bulbs splitting open
Like the worms actively moving seeds

Pollen floating through sun-rays
The park cheerful with mating birds
Budding branches gently quivering
Under the weight of their vibrating
Chests, and nature yawns, stretching
Awake under winter’s uneasy slumber
Spring’s dominance now commencing

©April 2019, Isabel Alvear

Spring is coming on strong, and this poem illustrates that heady sensation exquisitely!

August

16 Aug

This night is
a fuzzy, fleshy peach
which I aim to take a bite of
just knowing that
it won’t be long
before I am covered
in sticky, sweet juice
dripping from my fingers
running down my arms.

This night is
a sultry dream
a far-away jazz tune
brought by a wayward breeze
an offering laid at my feet
a promise I intend to keep.
This night
is ripe.

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Morning Pages

26 Apr

Writing morning pages
is cream skimmed off the top of
my thoughts, or pond scum.

Writing morning pages
is the pool boy, whose long net
catches leaves and dead bugs.

Writing morning pages
is your hands cupping my face
your eyes deep in mine.

Writing morning pages
is the clack clack of these thoughts
Ding! then hard return.

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A flock of haiku for the home stretch of National Poetry Month.

Ode to Sr. Mosto

14 Apr

My Algebra teacher
is 84 now, alone in the house
he grew up in, downtown
mother and sister long gone

I’d love to sit in his parlor
listen to him talk about
how 50 years of math
brought him purpose and joy

I’d rejoice at recalling his
infamous sayings, his booming voice,
weaker now, yet still resonant
with encouraging authority

And secretly, I’d hope for a pop quiz,
to prove to him I finally did learn
how to locate life’s unknown variables
only using x and y

photos_cuarto_curso_mosto

My Algebra teacher, Sr. Mosto, with me (in the sweater) and two of my best friends in 1987.

32 years ago, my Dad informed our family that we were moving to Ecuador for two years. He had been recently hired to be the new Director General of the American School of Guayaquil. I had mixed feelings about going, and leaving my Jersey shore world, but then again, I was 12. I asked him what it was going to be like, going to a new school, with all my classes in Spanish. He said, “You are going to have Mr. Mosto as your math teacher. He is an excellent math teacher.” Honestly, at the time, those words didn’t exactly excite me 😉

He was absolutely right, though. Sr. Mosto had a very clear way of explaining math. I still remember the way he formed his numbers in chalk on the board. He had flair, he had presence, discipline, exactitude, authority, efficiency, and an absolute command of algebra. He rarely got angry, and could handle a classroom full of 50 junior high students (yes, 50) AND give them an excellent base in mathematics without ever having to raise his voice. He simply and kindly commanded respect. Although he never received any formal training in teaching, he was one of those people that were born to teach. He taught at the Colegio Americano for well over 40 years, only recently retiring in 2008.

Mr. Mosto never married, and lived with his mother until her death. Now he lives alone, and at the age of 84 has medical issues, but remains alert and lucid. He pretty much has everything taken care of as far as his physical needs go. I know this because just last week, a fellow ex-alum, Tzely Shalev, got in touch with him. As he spends most of his days alone, with a godson helping him around the house, Mr. Mosto told her that he would love to hear from his students, and maybe some could even come visit him. So, she started a Facebook group and within a day had 1,700 members. Barely a week has gone by and now the group has about 2,600 former students, just from our school alone (he also taught evenings at a few other private and public schools).

Mr. Mosto has received hundreds of messages- and best of all- visits from students! On Wednesday a group of friends from my graduating class visited him and even gave him a tablet with data service so he could see all of the messages we had posted on his Facebook group, and set him up with a Facebook account.

When I look back at the teachers I have had that truly formed my intellect and gave me time-tested tools, Mr. Mosto holds one of, if not THE highest spot.

The outpouring of love and sincere desires to help from so many of my fellow alums is absolutely beautiful. What I am most grateful for is that the opportunity to do this has happened while he is still with us, when he truly needs it the most. All of this has filled my heart with indescribable joy.

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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Nazca

12 Apr

En tus ojos nacen cielos
nos miras desde arriba

con tu dedo largo
dibujas sobre la tierra

trazas lineas vagas, garabatos
dando forma a tus ideas,

el desierto tu papel periodico
esta tierra tu cuaderno borrador

Y si al final estas satisfecho
solo basta una palabra: Nazca!

 

Líneas de Nazca, Nazca, Perú, 2015-07-29, DD 52

In your eyes skies are born
you watch us from above

with your long finger
you doodle on the earth

tracing haphazard lines, scribbles
giving form to your ideas

the desert is your newsprint
this land your sketch book

and if at last you are satisfied
only one word is necessary: Be born!

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.

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