POETRY FESTIVAL

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Recherche Du Temps Perdu

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MY poem today is a remembrance of lost times, father, mother, grandmother, grandfather. Are we any bigger than they were? Somehow, we always feel smaller. Somehow, we must rise from our pauper space.

I thought it was the other way around:…
When one is no longer there, he will be
bigger than the space he occupied. I
cannot begin to gather the memories
grown rampant of those I have loved
and lost, they will fill my days to the brim.

How can I run with my father through
those fields with a wayward kite? How
can I sing those goodbye songs in my
abuela’s tremulous voice? Will I keep
in tempo with grandfather’s steps when
I find myself walking up the winding
stairwells, my little palms in his hands?
Will I tell those tales of enchanted
elves and flirting fairies as animatedly
as grandmother Teodora, and hold
my own grandchildren in thrall? How
large a space must I have to grow with
them while I keep this quiet watch over
the rhythm of days as we bravely wait?
I will not be able to fill these spaces you
have carved yourselves when you were
here—they overwhelm me with grandeur.
How will I cope with the largeness of your
presence now that you have gone from us?

Like the lad who threw himself on the snow
to create his winged likeness, I find my
snow angel larger than I am achingly small
engulfed by lingering memories of your
abiding love and immeasurable greatness.

 

 

 

* * *

His Love Affair (With Himself)

For all those who have learned to love themselves

Sit. Feast on your life.
– Derek Walcott “Love After Love”

Although this invitation will prolong our wait
in the cold antechambers that we surround
ourselves with, we will cautiously accept it.

Why not? Sitting here, staring at a kaleidoscope
of the many faces we have constructed to meet
other faces, I celebrate a love affair with myself.

Who else will do that for me? There were lovers,
and there were lovers, but they held on to their
own chisels to pare and scrape their own image

of what they could have and hold not unlike
a wild-eyed Pygmalion sculpting flesh onto his one
desire, a Galatea of his rawest wants and dreams.
I will sit and wait for the feast of all feasts
to be served on my table, my head on a platter,
my heart seasoning a bowl of hope, a soupcon

of little mercies that lovers often do: a salving
of hurts, a troth of endless fealty, a promise
that the image on the mirror is finally, only mine.

* * *

No Exit

How often do you frequent the malls and exiting without some expensive and often unneeded commodity? Well, the advertisements say it was a buy—50-percent discount. A steal, you scream. And off you go. (The mall–closest look at Hell)

Endless malls that have no exits
should be our closest look at hell:
too many nice-to-haves too little
time, no cash nor credit cards—
no unemployment cheques nor
bank debits, only foreclosure notes.

But what’s so nasty about Hades
with air-conditioned corridors?
That knock-off Louis Vitton purse,
or that Burberry bag slaved over
by starving waifs in Bangladesh,
you can do without—but in this
heat, in this beastly humid heat,
why does it matter if there is No Exit
from an endless mall air-cooled
by the taxes paid from mortgaged
homes that will soon become houses
grabbed by money-lenders and realtors?

Here, where lilac leaves hang limply
at the end of a dead dry day, I dream
of an endless mall that has no exit.
Like that homeless tramp snoozing
his hunger (or hangover) away near
MacDonald’s, I hope I never wake up.

* * *

Sundown Rhythms on Holidays
“Don’t you miss Marie, a wee bit? Don’t you?” She asks him. “Yup,” he answers quietly.

1. Temps Perdu
Her aches are different this time
around: not the knees, head, neck,
name it and she calls it heartaches.
There was a time, there was a time,
when sundowns were happy times.
They would gather around like birds
hopping on newly sprung rosebushes.
A sundown curtain call. A day is done
but not her day. She tiptoes into rooms
turning lights off, picking up left toys,
scraping stuck gums on study tables,
checking how snug a lass is tucked in,
a bar of a lullaby quickly hummed
to hush the toddler back to slumber.
2. Their Conversation
Tonight, she silently asks him: Why?
Why do they grow up and go away?
Seek their own levels of living and joy,
he promptly grumbles. Like we must,
while we wait in the crannies of quiet
corridors, find full quicksilver thrills
because we have earned them. Come.
Our bed looks so undisturbed, so neat,
when we should really be romping on it,
like those urgent times, lusty moments
stolen away from worries we promptly
forget as we gasp for air from frenzied
embraces under warm sheets. Hold on
she mutters: got to finish this program.
I missed it again last night when you
nagged me no end to visit Nirvana.
Why did you grow old? He asks quietly.

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