No words

Another week of mourning the senseless deaths of children. This poem, by a Jewish resistance leader against the Nazi’s is the best I can do.


It will not last. A few more weeks,
a month, two at the most,
the wounds will heal.
Everything will get better.
Apart from what is no longer there.

Abba Kovner (tr. from Hebrew by Eddie Levenston)

Thanks once again to Sean Singer for his posts, where I saw this.

Jamaal May

I heard Jamaal May read about 10 years ago. A real treat, and here is a more recent poem of his I found. His book, Hum, is worth owning. I haven’t yet read his newer book, The Big Book of Exit Strategies, where you can find this poem.


There are birds here

for Detroit

There are birds here,
so many birds here
is what I was trying to say
when they said those birds were metaphors
for what is trapped
between buildings
and buildings. No.

The birds are here
to root around for bread
the girl’s hands tear
and toss like confetti. No,

I don’t mean the bread is torn like cotton,
I said confetti, and no
not the confetti
a tank can make of a building.
I mean the confetti
a boy can’t stop smiling about
and no his smile isn’t much
like a skeleton at all. And no
his neighborhood is not like a war zone.

I am trying to say
his neighborhood
is as tattered and feathered
as anything else,
as shadow pierced by sun
and light parted
by shadow-dance as anything else,
but they won’t stop saying

how lovely the ruins,
how ruined the lovely
children must be in that birdless city.

Jamaal May

Poetry and cooking

As someone who loves both, I was so pleased to see this inventive political poem in the Paris Review archives:

Little Cambray Tamales

          (makes 5,000,000 little tamales)
        —for Eduardo and Helena who asked me
   for a Salvadoran recipe

Two pounds of mestizo cornmeal
half a pound of loin of gachupin
cooked and finely chopped
a box of pious raisins
two tablespoons of Malinche milk
one cup of enraged water
a fry of conquistador helmets
three Jesuit onions
a small bag of multinational gold
two dragon’s teeth
one presidential carrot
two tablespoons of pimps
lard of Panchimalco Indians
two ministerial tomatoes
a half cup of television sugar
two drops of volcanic lava
seven leaves of pito
(don’t be dirty-minded, it’s a soporific)
put everything to boil
over a slow fire
for five hundred years
and you’ll see how tasty it is.
Claribel Alegría
Translated by Darwin J. Flakoll