-- for the Prometheans

Here’s a Gillygaloo
Her eggs are made of air
And are perfectly square
Use them as dice to gamble
Or just scramble
She looks like you

This one is a Thermal Pig
Still hot from the Big Bang
He wants to sit on you
But whatever will you do
When he fries your thang
And melts your igloo?
He, too, looks a bit like you

This one’s a Pinnacle Grouse
With only one wing
Lifelong he circles a single mountaintop
Searching for his house
Will he ever stop?
Will he ever be through?
Maybe he resembles you

Let me introduce the Hoo-hoo Monkey
Most loveable of creatures
With peacock tail, elephant’s trunk and other endearing features
Warning: he smells pretty funky
This time of the year
Like you, I fear

Look up in that tree
And you will see
A pair of Weeping Me-Me’s
Wisely, they bury their tears in the dirt
And dig them out
In times of drought
Or when they’re sad or hurt
They remind me of thee

And last in our zoo
We have the Fruity-Bootie Bird
Just for you
A rare and intelligent species
He eats only his own feces
And smells, logically, like a turd
Invite him in
Invite him in for a laugh and a word
Your identical, umbilical twin!

                                                -- New York, December 21, 2010

Pastorale for vuvuzela

I miss you before and after I miss you
Amethyst taste of you

The experiment of your lips on Earth

Your fingerprints everywhere  

Off you go in slo-mo
Fine spray billowing from the waterfall of you
You evaporate

Oxygen for the life of me

Sesame seeds at the bottom of last Spring's picnic basket

And the words we left to their own devices in the meadow
In the juggernaut of time

Light laughing in its own language
For the sheer joy
Of August 3

                                                -- New York, December 18, 2010

Q and A: itching and scratching

Q. "If it itches, scratch it." Is that basically your philosophy?

A. Yeah, but "philosophy" isn't really the right word.

Q. What's the right word then?

A. Profession.

Q. What strategy do you use for a typical itch?

A. No such thing as "a typical itch". Each one's unique. Each has a first and last name, a birth and death certificate.

Q. That's not very helpful. Examples, please.

A. The best itches quickly escalate, going from your little toe, say, to your entire body in a matter of seconds. Sometimes even the earth beneath your feet itches. Sometimes you have to scratch the dark side of the moon, make the ocean cry. Sometimes you have to scratch your brain to get at an itch on your ass.

Q. What was your all-time favorite itch like?

A. It happened on January 3, 1993. Backs of my knees. I'll never forget it. I wept with gratitude. Almost got me into the Guinness Book of World Records. Showed up on seismographs halfway round the world.

Q. Any special scratching techniques you want to tell us about?

A. Well, that's kind of personal.

Q. This is off the record. Not for attribution.

A. Okay, sometimes only a book of contemporary poetry will do the trick. A Cuban domino. A fun house mirror.  A tuning fork. A perfect stranger. In emergencies, a red shoe.

Q. How long have you been an itcher and a scratcher?

A. Put it this way: I had a backscratcher with me in my mother's womb.

Q. What advice do you have for beginners?

A. Don't just rush into itching and scratching. Consider other career options. But if it's your true calling, go for it. And don't just scratch yourself. Scratch other people's itches too. Be generous with your talent. Nothing worse than a selfish scratcher.

                                                                      -- New York, December 12, 2010

Frijoles negros para Idelfonso

Yo sé yo sé
Mis frijoles no sirven para nada
“Son de bala,” decías

“¿Como va a hacer frijoles cubanos un yanqui?” decías

Cuando éramos dos náufragos de amor
Y me dabas refugio en tu islita
Pero el día de hoy

Aquí en Nueva York

Este gringo que te quiere
No te va a hacer caso

Te voy a preparar frijoles negros
Y te los voy a mandar al hospital en la Habana
Donde estas decidiendo si vale la pena vivir

Anoche puse a remojar  los frijoles 
En lágrimas

Pero cuidado, nada de llanto
Eran lágrimas de las carcajadas

Que provocábamos el uno al otro

Hace 35 años

La mitad de una vida

Ahora los tengo hirviendo en agua
Con una pizca de bicarbonato
Truco que me enseñaste para el ablandamiento 

Y mientras tanto
Preparo, también con lágrimas, el sofrito mágico:

Cebollas y mucho mucho ajo
Picadito con amor y saña

Ajíes verdes del coño de su madre

Hojita de laurel
Cilantro que no había entonces

Tomates y concentrado de tomate
Todo echado a la sartén al rojo vivo
Con aceite de oliva
(recuerdo una vez que tuviste que pedir prestado de la vecina de al lado
una taza de aceite medio pasado)

¡Huela, amigo, huela esto, que te va a salir la baba!

Ya es tiempo para mezclar el sofrito esquizofrénico  
Con los frijoles ablandados
Agrego sal
Pero cuidado

Menos sal que tú echabas
(Pero no por eso te voy a juzgar por debilidad ideológica)

Bueno, pasan un par de horas
Horas en que recuerdo a los dos caminando por el Malecón
 Tu, casado y divorciado como 30 veces
Con 129 hijos dispersos por el mundo
Dándome consejos que, idiota que soy, tomo a pecho

Y me cuentas del documental “Buscando a papa” que estas terminando
Con ternura y pasión

Esto hace siglos en otro mundo

Creo que los frijoles ya están listos
A probar….
Mmmmm, pero falta algo mi hermano
No puedo mandarte algo insípido

Bueno, ya se lo hay que agregar:
Una pizca de azúcar
Dulce como la caña de tu dulce patria

¿Y que mas?
 Ya sé:
Mi bata de baño

La mismísima bata que querías mandar

Al basurero de la historia
Por asquerosa
Prenda que he conservado medio intacto todos estos años
Añejándose para esta ocasión

La echo al caldo de brujas
Media hora más
Y listo, coñooooooo!!!

Estos frijoles que te mando
Por el mismo arcoíris mensajero
Con que me comunicaba con Ana la pecosa

Estos frijoles te los mando para que vivas carajo
Te los mando para que no olvides ni por un segundo
De la sabrosura de la vida
Y de tu contribución a ella

Te los mando para que
Con Rebeca y con Mariana
Te sientes a la mesa a comer
Un hombre libre y entero
En la casa digna que construiste con sudor y sangre

Te los mando
Al fin
Para que entiendes de una vez para siempre
Que mis frijoles negros
Son mil veces mejores que los tuyos

Idelfonso asere monina
Hermano del alma!

                                                -- New York, December 9, 2010

My fundamental and elemental ones

My fundamental and elemental ones
Present and gone now forever

This Gordon and this Dan
This Scott and this Gigi
This Sandy
This Milton and Moe
This Manolo
Roque and Carlos
This Andy
This Ben, this Phuc
This Paul, Joel and Grace
This Jim and this Gladys
This Irving and Sylvia
This Ruth
This Fran

These rudiments, quintessences
They went and took
Early retirement

Se los llevó La Calaca

They bought
La Flaca's
Permanent vacation package

They had too little and enough
They dirtied their hands with the stuff
Of the world

Present and gone now forever

They barricaded themselves behind their foreheads
Opened their hearts
Offered their jugulars to the wolf

Present and gone now forever

They and their ferocious dreams of betterment

Present and gone now forever

They were the golden ones
Who lived forward and understood backward
Who stood up
Stepped right up

Each a material fact of immaterial energy
Particle and wave
In the improbable world

Present and gone now forever

Oh how they squeaked and they howled
They grunted
They sang their beating hearts out
Couldn’t stop laughing or crying

Perforated and flayed
By the world

Each of them
These vessels of oh and ooo
Of ugh and duh and huh

Each had the honor of whispering
In the pomegranate orchard of midnight
Each bathed in the waterfall of things
Each made noise and had secrets
Each made music and trouble

Present and gone now forever

Each with birth and expiration dates
Off-label uses
Dying to live
Hanging on for dear life

They burned their fingers on the sun
Charred minute hands signaling through the smoke

My beautiful and rowdy friends

They lost and found their keys
And then they threw themselves away

They who were my explanation of life

These newborns
These clowns and rulers
These hummingbirds

They slipped out of the house
Before dawn
While we were sleeping
They drove alone to their appointments with pain

Enough of the respirator and the feeding tube of the world!

They broke with the caste system
Refused hush money
Ran away to join the circus of their own lives
Built a house of dignity out of water and breath
Bought La Flaca’s permanent vacation package
Laughing at the law of gravity

Present and gone now forever

They were bad just enough
Their goodness was good and good enough

Their names
Cleared now by these words
Of all wrongdoing

Gone now and present forever

                                                            -- New York, December 3, 2010