Cuento 3: “Poetry Reading” (805 words)
11:25pm [Typing, with one finger] Cesar’s patient, expectant rocking, his pichinga-tossing, light up when he finally sees me smile.
“Ay, mi hermano,” I say. “We hombres have done some very pissy things to each other. Perhaps, we need pichingas nuevas.” We chuckle, but he feels my pain, still written on my face, I guess.
“You’re sad. Lo siento, Douglas. I’ll recite your pichinga poem.” I try to bury a billion corpses with a laugh. It’s hard, but I’ll manage, with help from my friend who knows me.
My poem’s about the Pichinga Dream. All Nicaraguans are poetas, or, at least, love poesía, one more thing we have in common. It’s a ludicrous poema. I wrote it en ingles in ten minutes, for laughs, though I translated it pronto, so my family could share the joke. It flew across their dryness like a fresh wind full of rain. Cesar proudly memorized the English, adding to his machismo that he speaks the tricky language now. We worked for a week on la pronunciación, the delivery, so he deserves his pride.
Cesar, rising, begins:
“The Chalice of Milagros”
by Doug Evans Betanco
Come to me, little safeguard, pichinga,
Friend of darkness, heaven-sent in Cesar’s
Dream. Plastic miracle, pichinga, mi diamante:
Bright as oro at night, then changing--yellow
chameleon!--to Arcángelico blanco, oy,
At daylight’s pouring. No more fear have I,
No more terroristas; no machetes at my eyes,
No more bolos en la noche. Ay, Gracias!
Mi pichinga, brother’s gift de Diós,
Little peepot, cross mi cama en paz!
Then I will, es cierto, sleep more wholly,
Libre, seguramente, in all seven directions.
“I love this poema,” he says, sitting en triunfo, tapping his corazón.
“I, too, mi hermano. Fits the occasion, but it could be better poetry.”
“Es bonita, hermano.” We finger-tap the tops of our shoulders, feeling the frisson of angel wings. It’s a holy Betanco momento.
“I’ll give you my “Fluff,” about planting seeds as a poet. It’s in English, too. I give you the 'Quiet Voice of the New Millennium.'" I stand, face the rocker. I love to share poemas, here, especialmente.
Look! That cottonwood seed in genuflect
Might know where it’s going, what breeze
Lifts it to frames around windows, to gutters,
To tapestries woven in hair. I’ve seen cotton
Rise to the clouds, or plummet to rivers, or stop,
Stuck in midair, tacked to a veil of handkerchief linen
No seed could sail through, held, almost too long for breath,
Waiting for some gust to snatch it, or some hungry wren,
To swallow, then shitcast it, where it might settle, white
In a crackle of granite. There, sunwarm, with wet dust
Down just for it, even airy fluff can set a potent root.
Poetry reciting and story-telling, mentirijillas—make-believe--embroidered with saints and angels, are family treats at palomas, part of an oral tradition that stretches to the misty mythologies of creation, on one end, and to a more just future, on the other.
11:48pm [Typing, drinking café. On a roll] Nicaragüense must be the world masters of irony, of paradox, given their history, their God-awful presento, their economia ruined, probably forever, by our thumbs-down back in the 80’s. Unfortunately, according to our haunted government (OHG), terroristas still hang from every mango on “Mi Tierra.” Good Grief! The only ones here have Yalie accents. Some gardens simply will not grow, poisoned by their pasts and malo spin, despite the world’s most heartful, high-powered praying.
Both poems appeal, tonight. Cesar feels the twists, despite the foreign language. My family finds libertád in chains, fights death while alive, makes feasts out of famina, every day. It’s still little better than survival mode here. They know the U. tricks us for our good; creating rich salvación from a pichinga is a necesidád for them, and, now, for me.
“I’m proud of you, hermano. Me gusta “Fluff,” es cierto.” My brother loves my poem even though he knows little of the English. He pronounces it "Floof."
“I love it here 'cause everybody gets my jokes.” We laugh, mi hermano y yo. He’s honored by my presence in his life, verdad! I’m honored he's got “Pichinga” by heart, and, as well, that mi amigo thinks so kindly of my needs, he even dreams soluciones plasticos for me.
Ay, Chihuahua, those roosters again! Up in my mangos, their nightly roosts. It's a good thing I'm covered in kindness and protection: I’ve been trying to coax those OHG terroristas down from my trees all trip, as I'm sure at dawn they're covered with chicken caca, pocked with red mosquito bites. Very unhealthy. They also jangle my pollos. It’s “Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy-Doo,” all night long, plus lousy egg production in the morning, in downright terrorista Nicaragua. Ah, well.