Thursday, June 15, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Broken English

This was inspired by my visits to the library...wanting to be read someday even as my favorite authors are, but feeling inarticulate when I think of them. Trying to make the giants human-sized, I suppose.

Shakespeare, Whitman, Aristotle
I bow to you and sing to you.
Enthroned above a lofty perch
Untrammeled by mundane concerns.

I don’t wanna crush you, Keats
Lock you in a musty tower
When you want to shake it up on the ground
And curl into the soil
Like a cat.

I trace my brown fingers on your proud wavy letters, Virginia
Try to eat your brilliant madness through my flesh
But I don’t feel you there.

I taste your words, in whispers
Sneak them through security

You are patient, say “Repeat after me.”
But they sound unintentional
In my accent
Overemphasized and underwhelming.

Thees and thous wrap around my tongue and tighten
Cut me off at the root.

How do I dare?

What do I know of you, after all?

No cars drag trumpet blasts and techno beats
Like ribbons behind them
Where you live

No mamis stew, eyes mottled
From the smoke of too many sofritos
Eyes wet from too many novelas

No girls step out, more curves than sense
As they try out sex like new arms
Awkward like colts

No steamy showers
Where papis wash the grime of the city soot
And the machinas
From their fingers
Leaning against the tiles
Only staring down the drain

But then I look at you
Dancing around each other like electrons
Drawn by the gravity of love.

Do you see me?
Behind the curtain, wearing red
Adding salsa sways to your minuets.
A grace note
Unnecessary flourish with my hips.

The dance goes on
Like the parrandas of my parents’ land.
No one mocks my broken English.
No one thinks the less of me.

Shakespeare, Whitman, Aristotle
I croon your names, an invocation.
I long to join myself to you
Warm skin to white page.
Life to life.

I bow to you.
You sing to me.

For more Thursday poetry, go here.



Blogger liz elayne said...

hi. so this poem. it speaks to me deep in my gut (i use that word to mean the deepest part of me). it speaks to something i have been writing for a little while...and a feeling i know.

and the line right before the poem...trying to make the giants human-sized. yes. love this too.

5:49 PM, June 15, 2006  
Blogger liz elayne said...

PS my word verification was oreeo. thought that was funny.

5:50 PM, June 15, 2006  
Blogger LMB Knits said...

Great poem.

My blog is

10:11 PM, June 15, 2006  
Blogger Lynn said...

Oh, I love this poem. I am especially drawn in by this line and the ones that follow:

No cars drag trumpet blasts and techno beats

10:15 PM, June 15, 2006  
Blogger Jessie said...

no words for this one. dang, i can't even spell the sound that came from my lips after reading this.

good is an understatement.

11:33 PM, June 15, 2006  
Blogger deirdre said...

I'm speechless.

11:59 PM, June 15, 2006  
Blogger paris parfait said...

This is so beautiful! I love how you make the masters human, blending right in with modern life.

3:52 AM, June 16, 2006  
Blogger M said...

This is beautiful. I love how other books inspire you the same way they do me. What would we do without libraries!!

12:22 PM, June 16, 2006  
Blogger Laini said...

Oh my god. I hope you are planning to submit this poem to some poetry journals. It is so gorgeous, it makes me want to read it aloud, and maybe even eat it. Is that weird? Maybe a little weird. Seriously. Submit it. I know nothing about poetry journals. But if I did, I think I would think this should be in one.

PS - I just left a very long ramble on your last post.

PPS - Welcome to your new home. Best wishes there! I moved a lot as a kid and always loved the idea of a fresh start in a new place, like beginning new habits, seeing myself in a new way, was more possible in a new city.

1:09 PM, June 16, 2006  
Blogger earnest and game said...

Oh, it's so nice to see your enthusiasms brimming forth. So glad that you made it to the public library. What a gorgeous building. Your poem project reminds me in a very good way of Derek Wolcott's work. As a caribbean boy steeped in colonial literature, he too felt that "he had entered the house of literature as a houseboy,/ filched as the slum child stole,..." Have you read Omeros? Or Tiepolo's Hound? I would think that you might have encountered with margaret cezaire thompson...? If not, I think you would enjoy some kind of spiritual communion with Wolcott. Here's a good overview article:


1:17 PM, June 16, 2006  
Anonymous Jennifer (she said) said...

mmmm. that is a GREAT poem. it moves!!! i love poems that can do that.

8:54 AM, June 17, 2006  
Blogger Darius said...

I know exactly what you mean. I was an English major whose mind was completely blown when I read Wordsworth - not the thing about the damn daffodils, which I guess is in all the anthologies because it's accessible, but Tintern Abbey, the Intimations Ode, the Prelude, etc. I'd had those same sorts of responses to nature, especially as a kid, and couldn't believe not only that somebody else had had them, but could evoke them with language.

If you ask me, modern poets simply lost the chops somewhere along the way. Without the dicipline, the craft, the ability to make language sing, it doesn't do what the poetry of the past did - which is to impress the mind something like music does.

So I think poetry is essentially a lost art form. I remember in "creative writing classes" in h.s. and college, the extent of the "instruction" was: Express yourself. Might be nice therapy, but it's not good for creating art with language.

2:10 PM, June 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the poem its so deep in the heart by the way you express your words like that i know im only twelve but, trust me im a poet God gave it to me as a gift to help me get over all the abuse ive been through i knew i had to do something to make me happy again even though im depressed and stressed out from all of the sexual and mental abuse i really hope you continue writing and remember to never give up no matter how hard it is - Savannah LeMster

5:55 PM, December 22, 2008  

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