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M Apr 2018
Lumipas ang labindalawang taon
Nang tayo'y huling nag-kasama
Ako'y nilayuan, iniwasan
Dahil akala mo ay gusto kita

Ngunit kaibigan lamang
Ang pag tinigin sa isa't isa
Oo't ikaw ang huwaran
Sa bawat lalaking hinangaan

Hindi nasagi sa isip kailan man
Na ang tunay na mithi ay ikaw pala
Kaya't siguro nga, tama ka
Tama na ikaw ay lumayo at lumisan

Ako'y umibig sa isang tsinito
At ika'y nabighani ng haponesa
Nagkaroon ng sariling mundo
Mga kasintahan ang siyang naging pruweba

Mula elementarya at kolehiyo
Patuloy akong umasa at nag tanto
Kung ang ating mga destino
Ay muling magtatagpo

Sa loob ng labindalawang taon
Ikaw ay may mahal paring iba
Malapit man sa'kin, ika'y malayo parin
O giliw, hanggang pangarap na lang ba?
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
That night
the beach was full of fires,
and the waves rolled in mysterious,
foam-laden,
from the ancient lands.
And on the beach
full of fires and magic
we burned our paper wishes,
for that night they might even come true.
Then, because we were unwilling to wait
the last few minutes, we ran
a little before midnight
into the mysterious, ancient, pagan sea
and submerged ourselves in the foam.
You rose up,
shouting amid the waves
with the joy of that night.
When fireworks shot into the sky,
and some, falling to the sea,
exploded there again
to shoot from the very waves,
you also leapt up, shouting
with the energy of that magic night.
And later, when we were almost
the last remaining in the sea,
we went up onto the beach
full of fires and love.
Noche de San Juan, 23 June, a celebration of midsummer, made into a Christian festival.
The best way to write a piece in two languages is to do both versions at the same time, so there are a couple of places where the Spanish is not a literal translation of the English.
Note: the "you" who leapt up in the sea is plural and female, as the Spanish version makes clear, and the "love" in the last line is of a general nature, not romantic at all.
Victor D López Dec 2018
Unsung Heroes

Although I stand on the shoulders of giants,
I fail to see much farther than the bridge of my nose.
The fault in mine. The shame is mine.
For I am unworthy of you, my beloved dead.

Emilio (Maternal Grandfather)
Your crime was literacy,
And the possession of a social conscience,
That made you yearn to see your beloved Spain remain free,
And prevented you from suffering fascists lightly.

You did not bear arms,
For you abhorred all violence,
You did not incite rebellion, though you
Rebelled against the foreign and domestic enemies of freedom.

As best I can tell you were an idealist who,
In a time of darkness,
Clung passionately to the belief,
In the perfectibility of the human spirit.

You would not abide the lies the regional papers carried,
And translated news from American and British newspapers,
About the gathering storm,
Sharing the truth freely with all who would listen.

You gave speeches, and wrote speeches delivered by others, in support of a doomed
Republic collapsing under the weight of its own incompetence and corruption.
You were warned by friends of your imminent arrest and offered passage back to the U.S. or to
Buenos Aires where so many of your friends had already found refuge.

But they would not get your wife and nine children out,
And you refused to leave them to their fate.
They came for you, as always, in the middle of the night,
These cowards with stern faces hiding behind machine guns.

They took you prisoner, not for the first time, to the Castillo de San Anton,
A fortress by a most beautiful, tranquil bay,
Where they tore out your nails, one by one, and those their
Gentlest caresses while they asked you for names.

You endured, God knows what there, for months,
And were sentenced to be shot as a traitor at La Plaza de María Pita.
But the Republic had friends, even among the officers of the fascist forces,
And one of them opened your cell door on the eve of your execution.

You had contracted tuberculosis by then, yet, according to grandmother, you
Managed to swim miles across the bay in a moonless night, to safety in the home of
Another patriot who risked his life and the lives of his family to hide you in
His root cellar and made a trip of many miles on foot to find your wife.

He found your home and told your wife of your unexpected reprieve,
And asked her to send some clothing and some shoes to replace your ***** rags.
You eldest daughter, Maria, insisted on accompanying the stranger back on foot, taking
Clothing and what provisions she could quickly gather and carry to you.

From time to time you accepted the hospitality of an overnight stay
In the attic or hay loft of a
Republican sympathizer as these were not hard to
Find in the fiercely independent
Galicia under the yoke of one of its own. But mostly you lived in the woods, with active guerrillas for years.

You lived with all the comforts of a hunted animal with others who would not yield,
Your only crime consisted of being on the wrong side of a lost cause.
I hope it brought you some comfort to know you were on the right side of history.
It brought none to your wife and none to your youngest children.

As you paid the long penance for your conscience, once a month or so, after some
Time passed, you visited your wife and children. You were introduced to the little ones
As an uncle from afar. They did not know the bearded wild man who paid these visits
In the middle of the night and left wearing dad’s old, clean clothes.

The older ones, Maria, Josefa, Juan and Toñita, all in their teens, told the little ones
That their “uncle” brought news of their dad. The younger children, still wearing the
Frayed cloaks of their innocence, accepted this, not questioning why he stayed in
Mom’s room all night and was gone before they awoke the next morning.

Your grief at playing the part of a stranger in your own home, of not embracing your
Children on whom you doted, one and all, for their protection and yours, as there were
No shortage of fascists who tried to ply them with pastries and candy,
Seeking to use their innocence as a weapon against you.

Your parents were relatively wealthy business owners who farmed the sea but
Disowned you—perhaps for your politics, perhaps for choosing to emigrate and
Refusing to join the family business, or perhaps for marrying for love in New York City
A hard working girl beneath your social station in their eyes.

You lived just long enough to see Spain delivered from war,
Though not freed of her chains.
You were spared the war’s aftermath.
Your wife and children were not.

No books record your name. Most of those who knew you are dead.
Yet flowers have long perpetually appeared on your simple above-ground burial site in
Sada that holds your ashes, and those of your eldest son, Juan, and second-
Eldest daughter, Toñita, who died much younger than even you.

Your wife has joined you there, in a place where
Honor, goodness, decency, principle and a pure,
Broken heart,
Now rest in peace.
You can hear my reading of this poem and some sample sonnets from my Of Pain and Ecstasy collection in a simple YouTube book trailer by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FXkhtOltEc&t=6s
Brody Blue Oct 2018
Around the clock
     By lot we rot
To rags and boneless
                            Candid
As the hour and
     The second hand
Seem both locked-up in
                            Handcuffs.
We lost our mules
     To Arkansas,
In parts we saw 'em
                             Vanish,
While we both stood
     In silence, blood
Cov'rin' ev'ry
                              Canvas.
If they'd only had
     The medicine
And met us in
                              Ratón,
This mess we're in
     Would fester some,
Then just as soon
                              Pass-On;
But now on the edge
     Of the tiresome sea,
Each pledging
     The other to
                              Stone,
Push and shove
     Our hand in some glove
In one fast move
     Will be
                              Gone.
Meanwhile, the tides
     (Poised by Poseidon)
Rise and
                              Disappear;
Hound dogs bay
     Beyond the bluff;
Bandits watch the
                             Pier;
And I look thru
     My lookin' glass;
You, into your
                            Mirror,
Both only saying
     Anything
The other wants to
                             Hear.
Though ev'ry dime
     Was lent, we spent
Them all to keep us
                             Floatin'
As autumn rolled
     Past summer's fold;
Now, winter holds the
                              Ocean.
No matter how
     We stack the deck
Our cards cannot be
                              Chosen
So the ones at hand:
     Take 'em fast!
Before the river's
                              Frozen;
But,
     Taking too fast
     Won't make it last;
Watch out!
            Don't crash!
                             Bewarned!
A ******* gets faster
     In the late second-half
Dry,
     In the eye of the
                             Storm.

At midday
     You insinuated,
Beneath the noontide
                            Sun
That I'm someone
     Who multiplies,
But will divide by
                            None;
Who swears he can
     Be counted on, yet
Never counts past
                             One;
Who cannot tell
     All he's lost
Apart from all he's
                             Won.
Who to and fro
     And back again
Has witnessed ev'ry
                              Sky,
From Anchorage, to
     San Juan Hill;
From Bangor, to
                             Hawaii;
Who, facing off with
      History, compiled
On the
                             Sly
A litany of victory
     By trickery,
Where
                            I:

                 Took on one sun
                       Won by one
                                           Handsome
                 Rook took from
                        His high-hilled
                                           Mansion
                 Took ev'ry bird,
                        Turned word into
                                             Anthems;
                 Took the book
                          And shook out
                                              Ransom;
                  Met Set head-on,
                         Left 'im severed and
                                              Scrammed,
     ­             Put roots to soil
                         And oiled the  
                                               Cams;
                  Ran and ran after
                         That sure-footed
                                                Ram;
                  Stood under the light
                          With the swarm of the
                                                ******

And you ain't wrong:
      Life is long;
But time is swift,
      Adrift and
                             Blazin'
But you'll get burned
       If you don't learn
Advice is better
                             Taken
But
     Taking too fast
     Won't make it last;
Read!
       It's written in
                              Red:
A ******* gets faster
     In the late second-half;
'tleast, that's what
      The last one
                               Said...
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
Aquella noche
la playa era llena de hogueras,
y las olas entraban misteriosas,
cargadas de espuma,
de los paísos antiguos.
Y en la playa
llena de hogueras y magia
quemamos nuestros deseos de papel,
porque esta noche tal vez se podrían realizar.
Entonces, poco dispuestos a esperar, corrimos
unos minutos antes de la medianoche
en la mar misteriosa, antigua, pagana,
y nos sumergimos en la espuma.
Surgisteis vosotras,
gritando en las olas
con la alegría de esta noche.
Cuando subieron fuegos en el cielo,
y algunos, cayendo en la mar,
estallaron de nuevo allí,
entre las olas mismas,
saltasteis tambien, gritando
con la energía de esta noche mágica.
Y más tarde, cuando éramos casi
los últimos quedando en la mar,
salimos a la playa
llena de hogueras y amor.
Spanish version of San Juan Night.
Both versions written at the same time, a more effective way of writing in two languages than to write one and then translate it.  So there are a few subtle differences.
refresh mesh Jul 2017
Vladimir whispers comfort to me:
Holly
Holly
Holly
Holly
you should shed your scalesss
on some cheap trolley railssss
Just go, take your passport!
Hold me 'round your neck for sport.



Smouldered by a motley
Who ****** up my good wing
Denying me proxy
Intaking the most vital thing

The wind is my only real motivation
Inciting a remedy verse
It feels like the strangest locomotive sensation
You find me livid and ready to burst

I notice the finality of some tension approaches
Wait! do you feel the need to breathe?
Are we all indebted to these crimson coaches
While god pushes the sky down on you and me?

I want to wait out their tussles and be grateful
But I pay Her in ****** taxes
I want to dry out my muscles and be helpful
But I'm stuck on a flooded axis

Dreaming of San Juan
Where I tracked predator dung
The search goes on
Where we lost one failing lung

Lead me to the classroom globe
Let me decide when to Disapparate
Give me mother's recipe for a ribosome
I'm sure my trash will eventually dissipate

Erasing
A swing
Defacing
Her ring
Good advice
A Henslo Feb 2018
Ik merk op: “De maan die minnelijke Don Juan!
Of wellicht (ik geef toe, erg straf)
Is het de luchtballon van Pape Jan
Of een dwaallicht waarnaar wij turen
Om arme zielen *** bos in te sturen.”
     Zij zegt: “U dwaalt wel erg af!”

En ik weer: “Iemand ontlokt aan het toetsenbord
Die gevoelige nocturne, muziek met het vizier
Op nacht en maneschijn, die vaak gebezigd wordt
Om de eigen leegheid vorm te geven.”
     Zegt zij: “Sloeg dat misschien op mij, zo-even?”
     “O nee, ik ben de leeghoofd hier.”

“Gij zijt, mevrouw, een ware grapjapon,
Van hyperbolen nooit gehoord,
Voor dolende gevoelens geen pardon!
Met uw hulp nuchter en rigoureus
Wordt malle lyriek in de kiem gesmoord––”
      En–– “Moet alles echt zo serieus?“
English Dutch transposition A. Henslo 2017
Original text by T.S. Eliot (1920):

CONVERSATION GALANTE

I observe: “Our sentimental friend the moon!
Or possibly (fantastic, I confess)    
It may be Prester John’s balloon
Or an old battered lantern hung aloft
To light poor travelers to their distress.
  She then: “How you digress!”

And I then: “Some one frames upon the keys    
That exquisite nocturne, with which we explain  
The night and moonshine; music which we seize  
To body forth our own vacuity.”
  She then: “Does this refer to me?”    
  “Oh no, it is I who am inane.”    

“You, madam, are the eternal humorist,
The eternal enemy of the absolute,  
Giving our vagrant moods the slightest twist!
With your aid indifferent and imperious
At a stroke our mad poetics to confute—”    
  And—“Are we then so serious?”
"my boy's got me tongue tied in two different languages
he's calling me baby on mondays and sinta 'til sundays
he's got me looking for him in between eskinitas
and cathedrals from quezon avenue to intramuros
all i see are his eyes
and 7,107 islands in the palms of his hands
and i never knew love could be so hard
when your words ran faster than your heart
makata is what they call you
a master of poetry and performance
you called me your greatest work
and you are a master of fiction
manileño is what you are
my boy's got manila's grime and glory
pulsing through his makata veins
he's got makati's lights burning through his irises
he's got the danger of manila beating in his chest
he's got the cries of san juan lodged in his throat
he's got the rhythm of the city in every step
my boy's still a boy
hijo is what you think you aren't
he's got three stars on his back
and he thinks he's the sun
he thinks he can change the world
himagsikan is what he wants
a revolution beginning with him
but tell me makata, manileño, hijo,
my boy
how are you going to save me?
how are you going to love this country?
my boy's tongue tied in two different faiths
my boy forgot to save himself"
Victor D López Dec 2018
Victor D. López (October 11, 2018)

You were born five years before the beginning of the Spanish civil war and
Lived in a modest two-story home in the lower street of Fontan, facing the ocean that
Gifted you its wealth and beauty but also robbed you of your beloved and noblest eldest
Brother, Juan, who was killed while working as a fisherman out to sea at the tender age of 19.

You were a little girl much prone to crying. The neighbors would make you cry just by saying,
"Chora, neniña, chora" [Cry little girl, cry] which instantly produced inconsolable wailing.
At the age of seven or eight you were blinded by an eye Infection. The village doctor
Saved your eyesight, but not before you missed a full year of school.

You never recovered from that lost time. Your impatience and the shame of feeling left behind prevented
You from making up for lost time. Your wounded pride, the shame of not knowing what your friends knew,
Your restlessness and your inability to hold your tongue when you were corrected by your teacher created
A perfect storm that inevitably tossed your diminutive boat towards the rocks.

When still a girl, you saw Franco with his escort leave his yacht in Fontan. With the innocence of a girl
Who would never learn to hold her tongue, you asked a neighbor who was also present, "Who is that Man?"
"The Generalissimo Francisco Franco," she answered and whispered “Say ‘Viva Franco’ when he Passes by.”
With the innocence of a little girl and the arrogance of an incorrigible old soul you screamed, pointing:

"That's the Generalissimo?" followed up loud laughter, "He looks like Tom Thumb!"
A member of his protective detail approached you, raising his machine gun with the apparent intention of
Hitting you with the stock. "Leave her alone!" Franco ordered. "She is just a child — the fault is not hers."
You told that story many times in my presence, always with a smile or laughing out loud.

I don't believe you ever appreciated the possible import of that "feat" of contempt for
Authority. Could that act of derision have played some small part in their later
Coming for your father and taking him prisoner, torturing him for months and eventually
Condemning him to be executed by firing squad in the Plaza de Maria Pita?

He escaped his fate with the help of a fascist officer who freed him as I’ve noted earlier.
Such was his reputation, the power of his ideas and the esteem even of friends who did not share his views.
Such was your innocence or your psychic blind spot that you never realized your possible contribution to
His destruction. Thank God you never connected the possible impact of your words on his downfall.

You adored your dad throughout your life with a passion of which he was most deserving.
He died shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War. A mother with ten mouths to feed
Needed help. You stepped up in response to her silent, urgent need. At the age of
Eleven you left school for the last time and began working full time.

Children could not legally work in Franco’s Spain. Nevertheless, a cousin who owned a cannery
Took pity on your situation and allowed you to work full-time in his fish cannery factory in Sada.
You earned the same salary as the adult, predominantly women workers and worked better
Than most of them with a dexterity and rapidity that served you well your entire life.

In your free time before work you carried water from the communal fountain to neighbors for a few cents.
You also made trips carrying water on your head for home and with a pail in each hand. This continued after
You began work in Cheche’s cannery. You rose long before sunrise to get the water for
Home and for the local fishermen before they left on their daily fishing trips for their personal water pails.

All of the money you earned went to your mom with great pride that a girl could provide more than the salary of a
Grown woman--at the mere cost of her childhood and education. You also washed clothes for some
Neighbors for a few cents more, with diapers for newborns always free just for the pleasure of being
Allowed to see, hold spend some time with the babies you so dearly loved you whole life through.
When you were old enough to go to the Sunday cinema and dances, you continued the
Same routine and added washing and ironed the Sunday clothes for the young fishermen
Who wanted to look their best for the weekly dances. The money from that third job was your own
To pay for weekly hairdos, the cinema and dance hall entry fee. The rest still went to your mom.

At 16 you wanted to go to emigrate to Buenos Aires to live with an aunt.
Your mom agreed to let you--provided you took your younger sister, Remedios, with you.
You reluctantly agreed. You found you also could not legally work in Buenos Aires as a minor.
So you convincingly lied about your age and got a job as a nurse’s aide at a clinic soon after your arrival.

You washed bedpans, made beds, scrubbed floors and did other similar assigned tasks
To earn enough money to pay the passage for your mom and two youngest brothers,
Sito (José) and Paco (Francisco). Later you got a job as a maid at a hotel in the resort town of
Mar del Plata whose owners loved your passion for taking care of their infant children.

You served as a maid and unpaid babysitter. Between your modest salary and
Tips as a maid you soon earned the rest of the funds needed for your mom’s and brothers’
Passage from Spain. You returned to Buenos Aires and found two rooms you could afford in an
Excellent neighborhood at an old boarding house near the Spanish Consulate in the center of the city.

Afterwards you got a job at a Ponds laboratory as a machine operator of packaging
Machines for Ponds’ beauty products. You made good money and helped to support your
Mom and brothers  while she continued working as hard as she always had in Spain,
No longer selling fish but cleaning a funeral home and washing clothing by hand.

When your brothers were old enough to work, they joined you in supporting your
Mom and getting her to retire from working outside the home.
You lived with your mom in the same home until you married dad years later,
And never lost the bad habit of stubbornly speaking your mind no matter the cost.

Your union tried to force you to register as a Peronista. Once burned twice cautious,
You refused, telling the syndicate you had not escaped one dictator to ally yourself with
Another. They threatened to fire you. When you would not yield, they threatened to
Repatriate you, your mom and brothers back to Spain.

I can’t print your reply here. They finally brought you to the general manager’s office
Demanding he fire you. You demanded a valid reason for their request.
The manager—doubtless at his own peril—refused, saying he had no better worker
Than you and that the union had no cause to demand your dismissal.

After several years of courtship, you and dad married. You had the world well in hand with
Well-paying jobs and strong savings that would allow you to live a very comfortable life.
You seemed incapable of having the children you so longed for. Three years of painful
Treatments allowed you to give me life and we lived three more years in a beautiful apartment.

I have memories from a very tender age and remember that apartment very well. But things changed
When you decided to go into businesses that soon became unsustainable in the runaway inflation and
Economic chaos of the Argentina of the early 1960’s. I remember only too well your extreme sacrifice
And dad’s during that time—A theme for another day, but not for today.

You were the hardest working person I’ve ever known. You were not afraid of any honest
Job no matter how challenging and your restlessness and competitive spirit always made you a
Stellar employee everywhere you worked no matter how hard or challenging the job.
Even at home you could not stand still unless there was someone with whom to chat awhile.

You were a truly great cook thanks in part to learning from the chef of the hotel where you had
Worked in Mar del Plata awhile—a fellow Spaniard of Basque descent who taught you many of his favorite
Dishes—Spanish and Italian specialties. You were always a terribly picky eater. But you
Loved to cook for family and friends—the more the merrier—and for special holidays.

Dad was also a terrific cook, but with a more limited repertoire. I learned to cook
With great joy from both of you at a young age. And, though neither my culinary skills nor
Any aspect of my life can match you or dad, I too am a decent cook and
Love to cook, especially for meals shared with loved ones.

You took great pleasure in introducing my friends to some of your favorite dishes such as
Cazuela de mariscos, paella marinera, caldo Gallego, stews, roasts, and your incomparable
Canelones, ñoquis, orejas, crepes, muñuelos, flan, and the rest of your long culinary repertoire.
In primary and middle school dad picked me up every day for lunch before going to work.

You and he worked the second shift and did not leave for work until around 2:00 p.m.
Many days, dad would bring a carload of classmates with me for lunch.
I remember as if it were yesterday the faces of my Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, German, Irish
And Italian friends when first introduced to octopus, Spanish tortilla, caldo Gallego, and flan.

The same was true during college and law school.  At times our home resembled an
U.N. General Assembly meeting—but always featuring food. You always treated my
Closest friends as if they were your children and a number of them to this day love
You as a second mother though they have not seen you for many years.

You had tremendous passion and affinity for being a mother (a great pity to have just one child).
It made you over-protective. You bought my clothes at an exclusive boutique. I became a
Living doll for someone denied such toys as a young girl. You would not let me out of your sight and
Kept me in a germ-free environment that eventually produced some negative health issues.

My pediatrician told you often “I want to see him with ***** finger nails and scraped knees.”
You dismissed the statement as a joke. You’d take me often to the park and to my
Favorite merry-go-round. But I had not one friend until I was seven or eight and then just one.
I did not have a real circle of friends until I was about 13 years old. Sad.

I was walking and talking up a storm in complete sentences when I was one year old.
You were concerned and took me to my pediatrician who laughed. He showed me a
Keychain and asked, “What is this Danny.” “Those are your car keys” I replied. After a longer
Evaluation he told my mom it was important to encourage and feed my curiosity.

According to you, I was unbearable (some things never change). I asked dad endless questions such as,
“Why is the sun hot? How far are the stars and what are they made of? Why
Can’t I see the reflection of a flashlight pointed at the sky at night? Why don’t airplanes
Have pontoons on top of the wheels so they can land on both water and land? Etc., etc., etc.

He would answer me patiently to the best of his ability and wait for the inevitable follow-ups.
I remember train and bus rides when very young sitting on his lap asking him a thousand Questions.
Unfortunately, when I asked you a question you could not answer, you more often than not made up an answer Rather than simply saying “I don’t know,” or “go ask dad” or even “go to hell you little monster!”

I drove you crazy. Whatever you were doing I wanted to learn to do, whether it was working on the
Sewing machine, knitting, cooking, ironing, or anything else that looked remotely interesting.
I can’t imagine your frustration. Yet you always found only joy in your little boy at all ages.
Such was your enormous love which surrounded me every day of my life and still does.

When you told me a story and I did not like the ending, such as with “Little Red Riding Hood,”
I demanded a better one and would cry interminably if I did not get it. Poor mom. What patience!
Reading or making up a story that little Danny did not approve of could be dangerous.
I remember one day in a movie theater watching the cartoons I loved (and still love).

Donald Duck came out from stage right eating a sandwich. Sitting between you and dad I asked you
For a sandwich. Rather than explaining that the sandwich was not real, that we’d go to dinner after the show
To eat my favorite steak sandwich (as usual), you simply told me that Donald Duck would soon bring me the sandwich. But when the scene changed, Donald Duck came back smacking his lips without the sandwich.

Then all hell broke loose. I wailed at the top of my lungs that Donald Duck had eaten my sandwich.
He had lied to me and not given me the promised sandwich. That was unbearable. There was
No way to console me or make me understand—too late—that Donald Duck was also hungry,
That it was his sandwich, not mine, or that what was on the screen was just a cartoon and not real.

He, Donald Duck, mi favorite Disney character (then and now) hade eaten this little boy’s Sandwich. Such a Betrayal by a loved one was inconceivable and unbearable. You and dad had to drag me out of the theater ranting And crying at the injustice at top volume. The tantrum (extremely rare for me then, less so now) went on for awhile, but all was well again when my beloved Aunt Nieves gave me a ******* with jam and told me Donald had sent it.

So much water under the bridge. Your own memories, like smoke in a soft breeze, have dissipated
Into insubstantial molecules like so many stars in the night sky that paint no coherent picture.
An entire life of vital conversations turned to the whispers of children in a violent tropical storm,
Insubstantial, imperceptible fragments—just a dream that interrupts an eternal nightmare.

That is your life today. Your memory was always prodigious. You knew the name of every person
You ever met, and those of their family members. You could recall entire conversations word for word.
Three years of schooling proved more than sufficient for you to go out into the world, carving your own
Path from the Inhospitable wilderness and learning to read and write at the age of 16.

You would have been a far better lawyer than I and a fiery litigator who would have fought injustice
Wherever you found it and always defended the rights of those who cannot defend themselves,
Especially children who were always your most fervent passion. You sacrificed everything for others,
Always put yourself dead-last, and never asked for anything in return.

You were an excellent dancer and could sing like an angel. Song was your release in times of joy and
In times of pain. You did not drink or smoke or over-indulge in anything. For much of your life your only minor Indulgence was a weekly trip to the beauty parlor—even in Spain where your washing and ironing income
Paid for that. You were never vain in any way, but your self-respect required you to try to look your best.

You loved people and unlike dad who was for the most part shy, you were quite happy in the all-to-infrequent
Role as the life of the party—singing, dressing up as Charlie Chaplin or a newborn for New Year’s Eve parties with Family and close friends. A natural story-teller until dementia robbed you of the ability to articulate your thoughts,
You’d entertain anyone who would listen with anecdotes, stories, jokes and lively conversation.

In short: you were an exceptional person with a large spirit, a mischievous streak, and an enormous heart.
I know I am not objective about you, but any of your surviving friends and family members who knew you
Well will attest to this and more in a nanosecond. You had an incredibly positive, indomitable attitude
That led you to rush in where angels fear to treat not out of foolishness but out of supreme confidence.

Life handed you cartloads of lemons—enough to pickle the most ardent optimist. And you made not just
Lemonade but lemon merengue pie, lemon sorbet, lemon drops, then ground up the rind for sweetest
Rice pudding, flan, fried dough and a dozen other delicacies. And when all the lemons were gone, you sowed the Seeds from which extraordinarily beautiful lemon trees grew with fruit sweeter than grapes, plums, or cherries.

I’ve always said with great pride that you were a far better writer than I. How many excellent novels,
Plays, and poems could you have written with half of my education and three times my workload?
There is no justice in this world. Why does God give bread to those without teeth? Your
Prodigious memory no longer allows you to recognize me. I was the last person you forgot.

But even now when you cannot have a conversation in any language, Sometimes your eyes sparkle, and
You call me “neniño” (my little boy in Galician) and I know that for an instant you are no longer alone.
But too son the light fades and the darkness returns. I can only see you a few hours one day a week.
My life circumstances do not leave me another option. The visits are bitter sweet but I’m grateful for them.

Someday I won’t even have that opportunity to spend a few hours with you. You’ll have no
Monument to mark your passing save in my memory so long as reason remains. An entire
Life of incalculable sacrifice will leave behind only the poorest living legacy of love
In your son who lacks appropriate words to adequately honor your memory, and always will.


*          *          *

The day has come, too son. October 11, 2018. The call came at 3:30 am.
An hour or two after I had fallen asleep. They tried CPR in vain. There will be no more
Opportunities to say, “I Love you,” to caress your hands and face, to softly sing in your ear,
To put cream on your hands, or to hope that this week you might remember me.

No more time to tell you the accomplishments of loved ones, who I saw, what they told me,
Who asked about you this week, or to pray with you, or to ask if you would give me a kiss by putting my
Cheek close to your lips, to feel joy when you graced me with many little kisses in response,
Or tell you “Maybe next time” when as more often than not the case for months you did not respond.

In saying good bye I’d give you the kiss and hug Alice always sent you,
Followed by three more kisses on the forehead from dad (he always gave you three) and one from me.
I’d leave the TV on to a channel with people and no sound and when possible
Wait for you to close your eyes before leaving.

Time has run out. No further extensions are possible. My prayers change from asking God to protect
You and by His Grace allow you to heal a little bit each day to praying that God protect your
Soul and dad’s and that He allow you to rest in peace in His kingdom. I miss you and Dad very much
And will do so as long as God grants me the gift of reason. I never knew what it is to be alone. I do now.

Four years seeing your blinding light reduced to a weak flickering candle in total darkness.
Four years fearing that you might be aware of your situation.
Four years praying that you would not feel pain, sadness or loneliness.
Four years learning to say goodbye. The rest of my life now waiting in the hope of seeing you again.

I love you mom, with all my heart, always and forever.
Written originally in Spanish and translated into English with minor additions on my mom's passing (October 2018).
Lawrence Hall Dec 2018
The American Legion meets in the parish hall
Third Tuesday every month (missed you last time)
Old men in funny hats saluting the flag
And then again re-living AIT

Their perimeter shrinks as children rehearse
Their songs and dances for tomorrow night
In honor of Nuestra Senora -
With Juan Diego’s tilma She blesses the Americas

In a classroom across the way the AA
Are fighting their dragons as manfully
As good Saint George, and so in very truth
They are fighting dragons for all of us

This is Our Lady’s cocina, open to all:
Everybody meets in the parish hall
Victor D López Dec 2018
Your husband died at 40, leaving you to raise seven children alone.
But not before your eldest, hardest working son, Juan, had
Drowned at sea in his late teens while working as a fisherman to help
You and your husband put food on the table.

You lost a daughter, too,
Toñita, also in her early teens, to illness.
Their kind, pure souls found
Their way back home much too soon.

Later in life you would lose two more sons to tragedy, Paco (Francisco),
An honest, hard working man whose purposeful penchant for shocking
Language belied a most gentle nature and a generous heart. He was electrocuted by
A faulty portable light while working around his pool.

And the apple of your eye, Sito (José), your last born and most loving son, who
Had inherited his father’s exceptional looks, social conscience, left of center
Politics, imposing presence, silver tongue, and bad, bad luck, died, falling
Under the wheels of a moving train, perhaps accidentally.

In a time of hopelessness and poverty, you would not be broken.
You rose every day hours before the dawn to sell fish at a stand.
And every afternoon you placed a huge wicker basket on your head and
Walked many, many miles to sell even more fish in other towns.

Money was tight, so you often took bartered goods in
Exchange for your fish, giving some to those most in need,
Who could trade nothing in return but their
Blessings and their gratitude.

You walked back home, late at night, through darkness or
Moonlit roads, carrying vegetables, eggs, and perhaps a
Rabbit or chicken in a large wicker basket on your strong head,
Walking straight, on varicose-veined legs, driven on by a sense of purpose.

During the worst famine during and after the Civil War, the chimney of your
Rented home overlooking the Port of Fontan, spewed forth black smoke every day.
Your hearth fire burned to to feed not just your children, but also your less
Fortunate neighbors, nourishing their bodies and their need for hope.

You were criticized by some when the worst had passed, after the war.
“Why work so hard, Remedios, and allow your young children to go to work
At too young an age? You sacrifice them and yourself for stupid pride when
Franco and foreign food aid provide free meals for the needy.”

“My children will never live off charity as long as my back is strong” was your Reply.
You resented your husband for putting politics above family and
Dragging you and your two daughters, from your safe, comfortable home at
Number 10 Perry Street near the Village to a Galicia without hope.

He chose to tilt at windmills, to the eternal glory of other foolish men,
And left you to fight the real, inglorious daily battle for survival alone.
Struggling with a bad heart, he worked diligently to promote a better, more just
Future while largely ignoring the practical reality of your painful present.

He filled you with children and built himself the cross upon which he was
Crucified, one word at a time, leaving you to pick up the pieces of his shattered
Idealism. But you survived, and thrived, without sacrificing your own strong
Principles or allowing your children to know hardships other than those of honest work.

And you never lost your sense of humor. You never took anything or
Anyone too seriously. When faced with the absurdity of life,
You chose to smile or laugh out loud. I saw you shed many tears of laughter,
But not once tears of pain, sorrow or regret. You would never be a victim.

You loved people. Yours was an irreverent sense of humor, full of gentle irony,
And wisdom. You loved to laugh at yourself and at others, especially pompous fools
Who often missed your great amusement at their expense, failing to understand your Dismissal, delivered always with a smile, a gentle voice and sparkling eyes.

Your cataracts and near sightedness made it difficult for you to read,
But you read voraciously nonetheless, and loved to write long letters to loved ones and friends. You were a wise old woman, the wisest and strongest I will ever know,
But one with the heart of a child and the soul of an angel.

You were the most sane, most rational, most well adjusted human being
I have ever known. You were mischievous, but incapable of malice.
You were adventurous, never afraid to try or to learn anything new.
You were fun-loving, interesting, kind, rambunctious, funny and smart as hell.

You would have been an early adopter of all modern technology, had you lived long
Enough, and would have loved playing—and working—with all of my electronic
Toys. You would have been a terror with a word processor, email, and social media
And would have loved my video games—and beaten me at every one of them.

We were great friends and playmates throughout most of my life.  You followed
Us here soon after we immigrated in 1967, leaving behind 20 other Grandchildren.
I never understood the full measure of that sacrifice, or the love that made it
Bearable for you. I do now. Too late. It is one of the greatest regrets of my life.

We played board games, cowboys and Indians, raced electric cars, flipped
Baseball cards and played thousands of hands of cards together. It never
Occurred to me that you were the least bit unusual in any way. I loved you
Dearly but never went far out of my way to show it. That too, I learned too late.

After moving to Buenos Aires, when mom had earned enough money to take
You and her younger brothers there, the quota system then in place made it
Impossible to send for your two youngest children, whose care you entrusted
Temporarily to your eldest married daughter, Maria.  

You wanted them with you. Knowing no better, you went to see Evita Peron for help.
Unsurprisingly, you could not get through her gatekeepers.  But you were
Nothing if not persistent. You knew she left early every morning for her office.
And you parked yourself there at 6:00 a.m., for many, many days by her driveway.  

Eventually, she had her driver stop and motioned for you to approach.
“Grandmother, why do you wave at me every morning when I leave for work?”
She asked. You explained about your children in Spain. She took pity and scribbled a
Pass on her card to admit you to her office the next day.

You met her there  and she assured you that a visa would be forthcoming;
When she learned that you made a living by cleaning homes and washing clothing,
She offered you a sewing machine and training to become a seamstress.
You thanked her but declined the offer.

“Give the sewing machine to another mother with no trade. My strong back and hands
Serve me well enough and I do just fine, as I have always done.”
Evita must have been impressed for she asked you to see her yet again when the
Children had arrived in Buenos Aires, giving you another pass. You said you would.

You kept your word, as always. And Evita granted you another brief audience,
Met your two youngest sons (José and Emilio) and shared hot chocolate and
Biscuits with the three of you. You disliked and always criticized Peron and the Peronistas,
But you never forgot Evita’s kindness and defended her all your life.

You were gone too quickly. I had not said “I love” you in years. I was too busy,
With school and other equally meaningless things to keep in touch. You
Passed away without my being there. Mom had to travel by herself to your
Bedside for an extended stay. The last time I wrote you I had sent you a picture.

It was from my law school graduation.
You carried it in your coat pocket before the stroke.
As always, you loved me, with all of my faults that made me
Unworthy of your love.

I knew the moment that you died. I awoke from a deep sleep to see a huge
White bird of human size atop my desk across from my bed. It opened huge
Wings and flew towards me and passed through me as I shuddered.
I knew then that you were gone. I cried, and prayed for you.

Mom called early the next day with the news that you had passed. She also
Told me much, much later that you had been in a coma for some time but that
You awoke, turned to her without recognizing her, and told her that you were going to
Visit your grandson in New York. Then you fell asleep for one last time.

I miss you every day.

[   To hear a YouTube reading of this poem in its entirety, you can visit the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX6w1Pwe7gI   ]
from Of Pain and Ecstasy: Collected Poems 2011, 2018
Adrián Poveda Nov 2018
Bus de las 8:00, 8:04. Sol en la ventana, camino de adoquín, irregular, vías trizadas de cotidianidad; luz roja, luz verde, la amarilla no funciona, acelera, quema el neumático, 10, 20, 40, 50 y frena de golpe.

Vista a la ciudad, azul, sin nubes y seca; te incorporas al bajar, la montaña se humedece, también la ciudad. Av. Amazonas, CCI, Av. La Prensa. Abordas das vueltas te sientas, "tome sin compromiso, $1" sino me devuelve, 10, 20, 40, 50 y frena nunca en la parada. "Soy de Ibarra mi hijo en el hospital Baca Ortiz", frena bajas, viejas pisadas.

Haces fila, pagas, otra fila; firme aquí, no puede sonreír. "Espere 20 minutos", te sientas, turno WT64, WT65, WT66. "la niña no puede comer aquí" WT77, WT 78, WT79.  Juan Arboleda, Gustavo Betancourt, José Efrén, Adrián Poveda; revise si está todo bien, firme aquí, sello, sello, queda registrado. Escalera eléctrica, salida, aire no fresco, "le emplástico", "le limpio", caminas, te detienes, ojeas, sueñas. Esperas, Chillogallo - Estadio, Camal - Hipódromo, ¿y el Batán - Colmena? ni modo al Cía. Nacional.

El bus va lento a penas atraviesa la brisa, el sol rebota en el parabrisas, Av. 10 de Agosto, acelera, acelera, frena, en la Av. Versalles el bus es un huracán, y frena, te bajas, tu decencia se queda y en la calle colonial vuelves a soñar, fotografía militar, vuelves a filtrar, 11:23, relojería, confitería parada de bus, fanático religioso, sonidos afro, plaza, museo, buenos días, árbol con hojas de otro árbol. "Pide un deseo y escribelo en un pedazo de papel".

Amor valiente, amor invisible, beso beso, no puedo aterrizar, sala 5, hombre en llamas, síndrome de resignación, refugiados, reflexión, cerveza, amor, amor, $13.60. Carne salteada, ají, limonada, besos, botella extraviada, agua.

Pequeño adiós, Marín, intento de robo,   25 ctvs, gente casas coloridas, montaña, subes, subes, das vueltas, valle azul y verde, baja, frena. Cash, salta se sacude, un torbellino de pelos, en la luz, en mi ropa, un torbellino de amor, pelota, pelota, rock n roll, cable, cable, pedal, camisa blanca, botas negras, peinado a lo morrisey, guitarra, vingala, Blues, Blues, saxo, taxi, maestro, bajo, guitarra, mente extraviada, extraviada, extraviada.
Mi 16 de Agosto 2018 en Quito - Ecuador
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