A Portrait by H

put me on the green grass
that overlooks the lake
where the birds sing
and my thoughts still.

let it be Spring
but on a day that poses as Summer,
perhaps quiet, placid rain
stroking my face in faint tickles.

make me smile, H,
a wide glitter
against dark skin.
make it light, alive

till the shy dimple on my chin
says hello, my eyes
closed in pure delight,
a portrait of hush.

run your brush, H, gently
over my shoulders, let them
not seem weary, like on those days
they were hunched in fear

and drooped in so much despair.
paint my nails red
for I quite like them so.
a lady all brown, with a touch of red.

shall my feet be tucked underneath,
seated on the bare grass
soaking in the sweet songs
of the birds whose names I don’t know?
Tell me, H, shall I be laid down
winking at the sun
dipped into the peace of th’ second
or do I stand in all my five foot something
with my skirt in whirls

that blend into the chirp
and tweet of Jane and John?
let me sing soft melodies,
that my heart beat,

out of your toile;
make me glow all the sun
that’s shone on me.
paint of me the woman I am,


her smile

her smile
opens as ivory rose
petals stirring from a doze,
a winter mile. her smile
flutters ’round milk hedges and loose
a flurry of jazzy warmth that moves
my heart to sing a beat and ‘ha!’. smile
on days the sun bears no match and hides
till tomorrow. on nights creasing fears
strain your brow, i hunt for a smile,
as rain falls in glittering tears
running down plush pecan brown
cheeks that long to curl up, and smile.

the coconut men of La Boca

for Pedro el cubano of La Boca, Cuba

La Boca is full of coconut
skin men who will not
allow a “no” to their
vamos a dar una fiesta. ¿vienes?” their
bare smooth muscled chests
is a king of tests
I say! their salsa
of beats causes me to sway in salsa
feats. that, or I am even more
moved by la dulce boca
and everything else of these coconut men.

they flaunt their fish
a thigh long and I wish
to taste of their boasted chef
grill, enjoy my coconut self.
but I am a mujer of sound
mind and I know more than a pound
it weighs, this sense so common
that I’ve got. so “no” to “come on!”
and “no” again, a fifth time,
to coconut drinks with men
of La Boca. Oh, la boca!

why does the mouth want!
why do these men vaunt!
the sea. coconut trees. and
la música, with a band
of men with salsa hips,
who drip miel from their lips!
“Pedro” of coconut skin and a glitter in his eye
“pass me la bebida de coco”, oh my!
por favor”. the secrets of La Boca
shall sleep here, between the sea
and la boca de Temi.

my beautiful black hair

“all that is black
is beautiful”,
or so Lawino thinks.
an untruth
if she ever met my hair.
although, truth be told,
it is not black
but a brown that bears great likeness
to the muddy pools that linger
on our street after many rains.
I wistfully call it ‘cocoa brown’
to lend it some elegance
and on some days, it does sing
bitter cocoa only to be appeased
by the sweetness of my charm.
and no one dares say
that it is no beauty
(for its maker, a fierce
warrior with flaming swords
for hands, would take offence).
Still I bear a grudge
against the gang of thick tightly-
wed curls that lie placid
on my head for it fails me:
it refuses to sit tight under
the army of pins that I with
frustration push through. Neither
does it bow to the wide-, gentle-,
fine-toothed combs I run through.
Maybe it is only proud,
unbending, like its ancestors?
No, not so, for you would see me
sway with glee if it framed
my walnut brown face,
punctuated with a groove in the chin
that shows itself for only the
most admiring of onlookers,
in pride like the brazen tail
of the male peafowl. But this hair
eludes me; even when I pay homage
with exotic òrí and oil stolen
from the kernels of the argan,
it sulks still. In anger, I threaten
to smother it,
enslave it.
But only in anger,
for, maybe, its beauty does not lie
in pride nor its elegance
in demureness. its beauty, I fear,
is its blackness.