The Exile Reinaldo Garcia Ramos

Habana – I must leave you!
because the night clanks through
your dark streets, mechanical

and the night is dragging itself sparking
against the stones of the streets and its sparks
are only an approximation of stars,

Because of your numerous eyes  I have
sold my typewriter; and scribble these
line inside my head. Everyone’s fields

have started to burn, even my field is aflame
with the books that I have written or should
have written, tonight the hills have an eerie glow

of war, while the inside and the outside
of apartment walls argue, jealous of the other
not knowing the difference hasn’t mattered

for years.  I am tired of all this! Habana,
I must leave you. Hurry we must pack
our shadows, and our shirts. O how our words

have become palsied, ours has become a sad
language of gestures and daily white flags.
Hurry we must leave before our words fail us

we must leave my love, everyone has gone before us,
by grave or by sea even the moon has left
as a stowaway on a borrowed boat.

In the beginning

for Linnea,

I.
Suddenly a flash
across the sky

a bang! – a scent
the scent of
rain.

then rain

then…
another bang –

setting off all the car alarms
in my heart.

II.
In the beginning you came to me
like a flash
of lightning

that makes everything visible
for a brief moment
and stays in the eye longer.

Yes,
in the beginning
you came to me

in a flash,
in a bang
in the sizzle

of summer
fireworks,
and I stood

mouth open
and sang.

III.
In the beginning
we wrote our initials
in the sky

and would dream on the backs of kites
finding each other’s faces
in the shapes of clouds.

Then we exchanged our names
and carved them into wood.
Now you come to me

closer to earth,
more arboreal
than aerial,

in soil wet to the touch
and bittersweet to the tongue,
you come to me speaking of life.

Out from the earth –
a thousand green arrows
leaping from the loam-

exuberant flowers
exploding across a field

to applause.

IV.
We have become more of earth than sky,

deep,
yielding
wet,

unmovable –
Together we are like one tree

connecting both worlds,
a crackling current,
a live wire,

a green fire.
We are alternating currents
of green and gold.

the gold
of lost cities
of leaves.

Now we are each
a falling leaf
of one tree,

Our prayers of gratitude
are reborn blue-green
of earth and sky.

Each day we are born.
Each day we die.
Each day we are born.

Our hymn
leaf, leaf, leaf, leaf.

Of Love and War Rewrite

Of Love and War
“Sometimes love is stronger than a man’s convictions.”
                                      – Isaac Bashevis Singer
 1.

There are wars and rumors of wars.
machineries and machination of

singular dark days
and singular dark clouds that hang

like props above our city.

We shut the window, we avoid their play.

Hungrily we take refuge between
each other’s legs.

How comforting this is to us,
to love without armies or tanks

or generals of reasoned love. 

2.

There are wars and rumors of wars.
machineries and machination of 
singular dark days

From the narrow street, they can see us
wrestling with an angel –

 the tugging of limbs and hair- 
You speak low so they can’t hear

your  seditious talk of love,
where my callused hands get tangled

in your  low moaning – while I hold you down

to the bed, 
                    my captive.

The occupation has begun —

your occupied body
          my country of ardent prayers.
 

3. 

There are wars, 
machineries and machination of

singular dark days.

The soldiers are all leaving for the front. 
Not us,  we will stay

       and wage our war
                             of tenderness.

They are all leaving this morning.
         
Give them your applause for their sad 
theater, and all their war ships 
                                       and planes.
  
Soon

they will write letters home
which will arrive without them.

  A few men will return,
          return gaunt; much less 
  than before
            with more sadness and less
dancing.

And when they do
  our war 
            will have ended 
            with a flag of white
                             bed sheets,

only a little blood,

               victorious,
                   writing love letters on each other’s bodies.

The Station

In a certain city of white tenements
and wind lashed blue banners I stand waiting
for a train in an empty station, the wind
sending scraps of paper tumbling down

the tracks; archives of lists, directions to..,
time tables, sacred texts scrawled on napkins.
In a certain city of white, tenements
and wind lashed blue banners I stand waiting

for a train and unexpectedly I think
of you which causes me to sway gently
as if bumped in line by an impatient passenger
and you hurry on and sit next to the window-

you now gaze out silently from my eyes
till the next to last station where you
exit with the other memories that have
their appointments and performances to attend.

On a different day in and a certain city of white,
tenements and slacked blue banners I stand waiting
for a train, in an empty station.

I think of a different day and remember us
which causes the platform to sways gently.

Suddenly I am aware of the beating of my heart.

 

 

 

 

I Love You Most On Mondays

for Linnea

How I love you,
love you and your 47 shades,
like all the different words for love.

How I love you tangled in the lengthening day,
or raging with life into the void or with your head
hidden under the covers because there is too much night to bear.

I love you and how with heart in hand you dance in circles
just to make the moon laugh, or to make me smile.
And I love you most on Mondays,

but we both know that’s not true
because I love you more on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
then I ever could on a Monday and what about Thursday

or Friday? And no one can even comprehend how much I love you
on the weekend, where I love you in the tangle of our sheets,
sleeping away the day like we were the richest lovers in the world

with a million days to spend doing nothing but love.
Let’s just say for now that I love
mostly in the quiet space between breaths, that space

where I see you as you and you see me as me and where we start
to spin in circles; mad like dervishes, one hand to heaven and the other
pointing to the earth; our bodies bringing heaven and earth

together.
Or let’s just say that I love you

simply
without effort

in the quiet
of our sleeping

under a full laughing
moon.

Dominga Corazon

In the mountains they found her
brass lodged in her brow
her bones told of her suffering
The rosary her brother gave her for her wedding
hanging from her white jaw bone
the white crystals beads in place of her teeth
that were felled by the but of a rifle
and Jesus on the cross watching her rape

    Death is easy but the road to dying is long

One single bullet to the head.
The bullet from the riffle of an Army officer
who crushed her face,
who leaves her to bleed,
has two children; —

He comes home from the mountains
bringing gifts

His daughter loves ribbons
his son guns

“and the sins of the fathers shall be passed down unto the
children till the third generation.”

  They sit to dinner and say grace,

  while the family of Dominga Corazon
             cry for their sister as Jesus looks down

                              from
                              his

                              cross.

Before all this there was the Summer or When a Woman Leaves

“Is fall just the bill collector for \summer’s excess?”

In the backyard you burn Fall’s leaves
while children chase each other in imaginary
wars, the smell of smoke their battlefield, a smoky

theater and a burnt offering to the gods, while white
clouds sail by subtly collecting your prayers.  When she
leaves, you carry her with you

in shadows— in shadows that sing; night-voiced and plain.
and your nights become tangled, a crowded together
procession of sighs. In your dreams, your mouth seeks

her mouth, your cheek her breast, your eyes saccade,
trying to keep the stars in their assigned places.
In the morning shadows dance across the stone wall.

across the mound of leaves you have just finished racking
over the orange and gold-leaf of fall. No;—not shadows at all
just the sure passage of time.

The Home I Will Build For You

Let me tell you of the home I will build for you my love. I will build
you a fine home where the front door is made of laughter and when you
knock on the door it giggles and asks the knocker to stop knocking,
because being a door made from laughter, it tends to be ticklish, and
it would be greatly appreciative if they, the knocker, would be so
disposed as to use the door bell.

Once inside our home, visitors will be inclined to notice the special
wallpaper that runs down the length of the West facing hallway.  This
is a very rare wallpaper that I will have to travel far and wide to
find, it being made of butterflies.  Every visitor will attempt get
closer to look at the patterns of this paper, and as their curious
noses get closer, the butterflies will become startled and being held
to the paper by only the whispers of love, they will take flight; then
all of a sudden the front room of our home will be swarming with
butterflies of so many colors, like flying flowers from a botanist’s
illustrated book.  I can see it now.

Once the flutters stop fluttering, our visitors will find their way
into the main room which is centered on and large dinning room table
with a menagerie of chairs encircling it and by a lovely kitchen.
The table is large so large there is a coin operated telescope at one
end.   Most visitors will be startled when pressing their eye into the
eye piece they are able to see their long lost loves smiling and
dancing around the table.  At the other end of the longest table,
there will be another coin operated telescope, this one looking back
and them.  Everyone will be startled love, when they see their younger
self looking back at them.

Now let me describe the chair at the head of the table.  This chair
will be made by peculiar craftsman that I have found living in a
village in Algeria. it will be made from the light of the setting sun
that set in Skikdah, on a certain day when joy was especially
prevalent.   We will need to invent special spectacles so that the
ornate designs that I will have carved into the sun chair by the
smiles of summer children playing in the sea refusing to come home
when they are called by their parents, can be appreciated without
squinting.

The chair at the other end of the table, will be, of course as you
know, made from the moonlight that cast shadows across our faces the
night we first met; that same moon that all the flying fish tried to
coax closer to the sea with their aerial acrobatics and their daring
feats of flying that made you say,
“ahhhhhhh.”

Now to the chairs sitting on either side of the table, these I will
make of worn stone that I will borrow from country fireplaces; those
stones that have been polished smooth by generations of stories about
love, and adventure, those stones that warmed every imagination  till
the last ember popped and closed its eyes, tired as the rest of the
family.

And then there will be the kitchen.  Here will be hearth and heart of
our home, where the cabinets will be made of the same material as the
front door; they being cousins, and of course as you have always said,
“What kitchen is worth its salt with out laughter?”

I see you wrestling a hot wind back under a pot, since our stove will
work by winds, zealous Zephyrs from Greece and Solicitous Siroccos
from the Saharan sands and Leveches out of Libya, their
mischievousness not always appreciated when they are supposed to be
warming the butter. You will smile and flinging the little zephyrs
under the pan.  You are the Queen of the home I will build you.

While you cook for our myriad of guests, I will show them the rest of
our home.  I will show them the room that is just for old umbrellas
and the room just for birdsong.  I will show them the library filled
with our writing and with low voices singing love and stories never
heard before and where angels will chase each other among the folios.
I will show them the attic made of glass so that in the end all of
life’s secretes will be revealed.   I will show them our bedroom and
they will be impressed by the soft and billowing bed I have made for
us, from your nights dreams and our love sighs.   And of course the
headboard will also too be made from the same material as the door
that delights with its random laughter.

From our room to the spare bedroom, this room will be well welcoming
to anyone who wants to stay over, even with the small cloud sulking in
the corner. I will tell our guests about the rules of the home where
the inappropriate use of thunder and lightening from a small cloud
indoors is never allowed, especially thunder and lightening that is
meant only to torment the cats.  Young clouds are in need of an
appropriate time out from time to time.

Oh the home I will build for you and the room we will build for our
child, ahhhh this room cannot be described my love, because there are
no words in any language to describe this room.  I have looked in odd
and diverse Encyclopedias, corresponded with architects of mysterious
buildings and dark women of letters, and to no avail.  Let it be as
the Gypsy King said

“Let music not words be the way to show what the beauty of this room will be.”
Alas, can you hear it my love?

Lastly I will build our garden. Many will be impressed with the
fountains and the peacocks whose hundred eyes of their feathers will
tell the future of our guests and by the fireflies and humming birds
that will chase each other around the yard.  The yard will be filled
with the sound of small chimes, each flown around by dragonflies and
the tinkling caused by their constant play of near misses and proofs
of daring.  And this, this will only be possible because of you my
love and  your patience, for  the hummingbirds, fireflies and
dragonflies will,  eventually after much deliberation, will always do
as you request.

Many will be speechless and will not know what to say when they
visiting the home I will build for you and fewer still will understand
that this is not just a home, but is my portrait of you.