An ad for the personals One slightly used -- scrap that one well-used carbon-based unit, female, eyes two, nose one, one mouth with teeth, organic smile, slight yellow hue, hair, once dark, sprinkled with white, with gray, with wisps and flying strands, flying parts and thoughts, could we rewind, start over, buy some new tape, edit the gray, the wrinkles, the hard-earned bitterness, the leathery feet. Send me a picture. Ah, well. I sometimes live here, in my skin, well-worn, some extra poundage to attest to myriad children and some self abuse, sometimes live elsewhere, far away from self, another planet almost, tango, anyone? On good days sometimes I'll smile and light the room, they say, though maybe with a lesser wattage than before. On far too many days, of late, I live in partial darkness that persists despite persistent fighting of the demons. It's been a weekend and one day since last I smiled or laughed or slept much; add to the picture dark circles taking up the surface area of the face, below the eyes, engulfing eyes and face and days. Darkness abounds. Somewhere there is a moral to all this which I have lost, somewhere if not a rainbow there is light or reason, or at least e equals mc squared; somewhere one and one equals joy, a glass of friendship shared, a Bach cantata, notes embracing in the myst. Forget this ad and let me live another day in darkness or in light, let me again smile at a piano tripping lightly over emotion held in la sol do or si bemol. Somewhere as Albert has so lucidly explained, time is a fiction, well-played out for our amusement. I'll take the check, tip the mozo, appreciate your patience. Lights out.
Sylvia A. Brandon's Questions:
1. Is it too dark? This also began as a science lesson-type
poem, and then took off for the river Lethe and therein hangs a tale.
2. Is the tone too confessional?
3. Again, how does the science help/hinder the telling of the story?
Habanera Duérmete mi niña, duérmete mi amor the voice of abuelita Adela asking me the flavor of my thumb at night abuelo cheating at Scrabble played in four languages while I learned the rudiments of ajedrez, knights, rooks and obispos. The house and its large gardens a strange menagerie of cats and dogs and once a goat, several hens for eggs, ducks in the pond, and parrots, discussing politics and the news in raucous orange cries. My tata Eugenia braiding my hair in pretty yellowgreen lazos and telling me about el coco who would kidnap any niña foolish enough to misbehave. Abuela Inés always the perfect beautiful señora rocking back and forth in her sillón while she played old habaneras on her guitar. The world tasted of sweet fried plaintain, arroz con leche with canela, warm hugs and toothless smiles while I combed abuelita's hair, a long cascade of silver. Mother's divorce was swift and hidden, sundered my world of chickens and abuelos, left me with shortened weekend visitation, long enough for Sunday trips to the Larousse, el Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, and Oxford's for good measure. It was impossible to win at Scrabble. Memories of mi padre then are dim, he was a background picture lit by linternas. She married self-made money, righteous with the arrogance of the new rich. My new abuela told me early on that I should be grateful for his generosity, but should not look to her for much of love, affection or regard. We did go weekends to Santa María; he owned a house there for a while, and to the Yatch Club and el Club Médico where blacks were not allowed. Minerva who was then mi tata was refused admittance because she was mulata and had worn no uniform to designate subservience; Minerva who played games with me and sang to me while mami sometimes had me brought to her on her way out to some affair or other.
Sylvia A. Brandon's Questions:
Note an habanera is an old form of Cuban music; la Habana was a busy port
where ships stopped on their way to other countries, to refuel, etc. Many
times people who stopped fell in love with the island and jumped ship. They
eventually returned to their countries, such as Spain, and brought back
learned 'habaneras,' which have thus become part of the folklore in lands far
away from La Habana.
1. Is the reader confused by all the characters (abuelita Adela, abuela Inés, mi padre, mother, mi tata, abuelo) and what can be done to soften the confusion?
2. Should the footnote about habaneras be included as a part of the poem?
3. Line breaks!!! !?@#
A science lesson The square root of fifteen is five, he said, and the answer to the endless questions of the here and now IS then. Democritus contrived a theory that space, the Void, had equal dibs with Being, or reality, the Void a vaccuum filled with particles eternal and invisible. From there to bombs and mushroom clouds winging their way across the unreality of time and space to death. When I was younger and myopic I looked at lights and saw the fusion of the shapes and colors and thought them beautiful. Then glasses were prescribed; the fuzziness resolved into the streets, dirty with garbage everywhere. Ultimate good, which D described as cheerfulness, a state in which the soul lives tranquilly, no fear or superstition, now eludes me. The naked city, she that never sleeps, is now a place of terror for those who do not fit the picture. The volume of a cone's one third that of a cylinder with the same base and equal height; the volume of a pyramid's one third that of a prism with the same base and equal height. Poetry's atoms have been split by hatred. The total mass of the reactants in any chemical reaction is equal to the total mass of its products. Darkness abounds. The total mass of fear and prejudice and anxious nightmares is bullets nightsticks hate and death, Dalton and Lavoisier redeemed. God weeps.
Sylvia A. Brandon's Questions:
1. When I first wrote it, after the Diallo verdict, at 3 in the AM
or thereabouts, I did not notice the glaring mistake in the first stanza
about square roots; most of the rest of the poem is good math/science. I was
preparing a Chemistry lesson at the time this poem was regurgitated against
my will. However, I actually like the error in the first stanza, but wonder
if the reader will think the rest of the scientific/mathematical allusion is
2. Does the analogy between the scientific/mathematical and the state of our streets work?