Condado, poems by Loretta Collins Klobah
Loretta Collins Klobah is a professor of Caribbean Literature and creative writing at the University of Puerto Rico. She lives in San Juan. Her poetry collection The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman (Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2011) received the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize in Caribbean Literature in the category of poetry and was short listed for the 2012 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection in the Forward poetry prizes. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Poetry 2016, BIM, Caribbean Beat Magazine, The Caribbean Writer, The Caribbean Review of Books, Poui: The Cave Hill Literary Annual, Susumba’s Book Bag, Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters, WomanSpeak, TriQuarterly Review, Quarterly West, Black Warrior Review, The Missouri Review, The Antioch Review, Cimarron Review, A Congeries of Poetry, Simple Past, Smartish Pace, Vox Populi, Ekphrastic Review, and Poet Lore.
Devilkin red brazen faced bold
Whorish ramgoat clitoromania
Mela’o mela’o guarapo y mela’o
below my big boned bohio
Cuba Libre nipple nimbo
plucked gutted Guinea fowl
hubble-bubble you’re in trouble
canoa oil avocado habaneros
blue light penis piña colada coco frío
banana blossoms purple conch
moan Goya rice suck bare mango
rumba of salt bath caracoles
rum barrel boleros sea foam ass
blue nettle panties bacalao ginger beer
sea hammock rolling clumps of clamping
muscles popping a girth congueros
timbales platinum platano colmados
ay, papichulo, coolin culo convergence
on a binbon bell flicker liquor quicker
wig fists bloody obrero pan de agua
danging down deep in fandango
expand the lick matted enormous
uhuhuhuhuh sushi smokeshop soneros
seaman inflatable banana boat
rum ruck sack close clave cat say ah say ah
A cinder backburning on beach fogón.
En la Calle Loíza
The top of his head
just gone, no hair, a brim
of bloody head skin fluted
around the splintered crown
of his skull, frontal, parietal
bones missing, skull cap
broken off at cranium seams,
and the brain exposed,
parts of it scooped out,
carved into the wet lobes.
His head is on the sidewalk,
his brain facing us.
He lies against the wall
of a KFC, underneath
a large window, where we see
that people inside are eating.
A woman pushes her baby
in a stroller, wheeling past him.
Was he knocked clear by a car?
Blasted by a shot gun?
Chopped by a machete or bat?
Just left there, dead against
the restaurant wall? We drive
a few blocks and circle back.
He is gone when we get to that spot.
Did he get up, brush himself down,
stumble away, alive and thirsty, into the dusk?
There wasn’t time for ambulance or hearse
to arrive and shuffle him off.
Por lo menos, give that man a hat.
It is only when I have given up
and pocketed the garden shears,
acquiescing to the vining cerasee
snaking through the links
of my fence, a thick hanging mat
of morning glories, heart leaves,
and miniature blue buds; it is only when
hibiscus grow into a high hedge;
and when my ears hear bird songs
that are new to my ears, many kinds
of birds that come to my garden;
and yellow butterflies putter by;
when I gather pods of tamarind,
taste the sweet paste of the fruits;
when I sit quietly in an iron chair
while the large clouds waft over;
then, at dusk, luciérnagas
arrive, flickering glimmers
exploring the torrent of creepers—
it is then, in this garden that has made
itself and strung vines across the back door
to keep me out, that I say little,
I hush to salsa brava of coquíes
and insect murmur, abandon thoughts,
sit by my friend, who has finally come to visit.
We look out into the green seclusion
of this moon-dim place, at the soft veil
of moist leaves. We should be younger
and still beautiful. But, we wrap ourselves
into the leaves, into the trailing plants
and flowers, plucking what is still sweet
from the wilderness of ourselves.
© Loretta Collins Klobah