Aug '02 [Home]

Terry Stokes


To describe the day
lean into the wind a la playa
buy your sunset with hard green dollars
turn around in the street full of harbor sweat
send out the moonlight like a simile
yawn like a salty old dog with his tail curled
& shake the dew from the newscasts

Today I am writing a poem
because I am in love
with the dreary death in my life
My mother gone crazy
in my arms & me, also
whispering death's second name

I have no way to say:
look out, here I come,
I have the memories:
sand under the toenails
& the grit of life itself
informing this poor excuse for a life

while just down the block
the new hospital blooms, blushes
the millions of pesoes that illness breeds
& me, well, I'd like to recline
there for a while my ass in a sling again,
& the auto accident
so long ago
coming back like a broken promise.

Who am I to say
& is it possible
that language is the be-all,
the end-all, after all? I have
specific questions about technique
& language itself, that ho-hum business
which shivers over there
in the dark as if it were coming down
with something like the plague
its teeth like fangs
its green forehead just now
breaking into a sweat
its cock full, dragging
along the beach
like an old dog with two sawed-off legs,
newsprint dripping from its jaws.

~ .

These Cold Days

               For my friend, Pablo Armando

These cold days, your country
& mine, my friend, I look out over
the harbor which I have the privilege to do

& I wonder, my friend, are there restrictions?
Who told us life would be a bloody mirage
of power? Who said that everything that
leaked out of our pens would be
as strong as piss, as semen?

& now I am in my funny country
& you are in your peculiar country
& when we spit across
the stupid abyss, the blood words
run off our chins like love
juices, & it's all the same, after all.

~ . ~

[Also appearing in this issue are Terry Stokes's 1985 Havana journal (excerpts) and
his interviews with Nancy Morejón and César Lopez. —Eds.]