Snarled Root

I know I’ve said it before.
I’ve never met a tree
I didn’t love.

A street
I didn’t want to cross.

Urban forest
I didn’t plan
to get lost in.

So many exquisite sketches
within reach,
how do I choose?

When the words dissolve,
I trust one of these branches
will hold my withered hand.


And a broken woman
writes on the wall
ruin in white chalk:

“Daddy, I waited here for you
a thousand times, but you
never showed up.”

Her poems caption
invisible sketches
of skeletal structures.

Become silent
lyrics to an instrumental

with conga, claves,
baritone sax, banjo or tres,
instead of guitar.

Her unspoken words
translate photos
someone forgot

to delete from a phone
donated to another one
who lives

on the other side
of the Malécon.

Another one
who swims

with porpoises
and seahorses
inside crumbled concrete reefs.

Arte Urbano

Graffiti speaks
to her in codes
she cannot translate
but knows
by heart.

She has never owned
property. Imagines
walls that talk
to everyone
who will listen.


Exposed rusty rebar
and cavernous potholes
in the Havana calles

cannot kill
her love
of the street
in all its ruined beauty—
exclaimed, whispered, silent.

Flightless Cuban Crane

Keelless. Extinct.
An ancestor
of the sandhill crane.
Gone like the giant
cursorial owl.

So many questions
they aren’t around
to answer.

Did they speak
Taíno? Ciboney?
Did they roll
their R’s? Trilled
Tapped. Every muscle

in the tongue
gets involved.
Every muscle in the body

shouts out
once in a while
when the tension
of desire and air
pressure shift.

Pectoral girdle.
Alveolar ridge.
Cloacal kiss.

A colt
with an unchanged
voice won’t purr.

Who’s to say
which hammock
will hold willing
suspension of infatuation
the longest. I refuse

to ask if
the tobacco
will be
rolled into a cigar
or packed into a pipe.

If I were a bird,
I would swim better
than fly too.

Grime Dance Hall

“I always tell the truth,
even when I lie.”
—Tony Montana in Scarface

You were my gateway
drug. My gateway
crime. I drew
on your face
with a broken eraser.
Loaded pistols appeared,
and the word

LOVE faded
under the hot Havana sun.

When Did You Start Writing Your Address in Pen instead of Pencil?

I did not know
the definition of mortality
when I played
with the hour

glass my grandmother
kept on a round coffee table
in the great room
overlooking the sound.

The only house
that has ever mattered
to me. Every poem
passes through its rooms

to the waterfront porch
where my father taught me
how to tie my shoes
so I could run away.