The Bend

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 100th birthday.

Fina Garcia Marruz
1923 – 2022


Who could say for sure?
You see it as you pass by: eyes sinking
into a broken, red dirt road;
to the side, some painters’ shacks:
tender blue doorways, smoky
roof: the green runs
to the back, lively as a hen,
pecking at the wash, losing itself
among blue distances.

No one lingers
to look it over. You find it only
when you leave for another place, when
there’s no time.

you’ll not find it again.

It’s paradise.

Translation by Katherine M. Hedeen and Janet McAdams


We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.

Caridad Atencio
b. 1963


I overcome because I am overwhelmed.
I whip my life into shape,
one tension, one bit of calm at a time,
if I must I give back the distance I run,
if I must I rise and cut something from myself.

I’ve arrived at this hour dragging my body from moment to moment. Surreptitiously I serve up wounded blood.
The story I bear, how will you receive it?
The water I’ve gathered makes itself heard.
Here is the mother who keeps her child
forever in her womb.
And decides she will live, even as she drowns.

Translation by Margaret Randall


Mirta Aguirre
1912 – 1980


I know, friend,
it is all within me as in
a sonorously mute coffer.
All sleeps within me,
tremulously quiet,
and in active rest,
in a brief palpitation of palpitating entrails,
in such sweet presence as to be barely presence at all…
I know, friend,
my friend, blinder than dead serpents,
my friend, softer than overripe fruit:
It is all within me.

It is all within me silent, subterranean, fused
in pale stratas of light and silence,
nourishing my life,
growing my life…

There are sorrows that wear red in the streets.
There is a pride that screams.
There are joys in colourful dress
and songs that rent the sun.
There are many things, my friend, many things
– my friend, softer than overripe fruit –
at the surface of its skin.
And in me all is
so silent I can even forget it,
as dimmed as a child dying.
All as in a mutely sonorous coffer
trembling in stillness…

Translation by Margaret Randall

Sonnets for My Father

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 100th birthday.

07-06 Labra
Carilda Oliver Labra
1922 – 2018


Father of yesterday who made hope
full of children and debts.
I conjure your hand which was never dry
and never knew stone or spear.

When you were judge, you were ill with insomnia…
as you longed to save so many thieves.
Let the sparrows chirp peace for you
and may you have playthings at last!

I make believe, now, that you’re sleeping
and your affectionate greeting, your amazement, lives on.
My life now moves with entropy;

Now, I’m truly the sad little daughter
that can no longer lean on your shoulder
because you died in January, Father.


Grief arrives so violently
like the rain after the dawn;
today my smile is different:
an invisible tear that doesn’t weep.

(I tell myself in secret: maybe he’s coming by,
and not only as he knows of this grieving
but because I still wait anxiously
in case he asks for the key to our house…)

I can’t believe it… I need you,
and you are dead, my father, little dead one.
This time you are checkmated.

Like a crazy person, in super human delirium,
I lift your chess piece with my hand
and place you playing in the game!


I have dressed in white, green, red,
because grief does not rhyme with love.
It has been a long time, my father, since your eyes
refused darkness or glare.

Don’t let hail and snow fall on your innocent and foreign grave.
Let the birth of spring sing to you
let a flower exude perfume on the ninth!

I reserve the glory of your room for you,
a happy sparkle of the sun, that I keep apart
that piece of earth where you were born,
your robes, your books, your saw…
It’s not enough now to love you so much:
you’re dead, my father, you’re dead.


Your comfortable chair… where is it?
Your student violin… how does it sound?
You buried pennies in the sand
and gave my mother other names.

I keep all your letters and pictures.
In my dream your prostate is cured.
On the patio floor and in my affection,
your last shoes walk on.

I want to see you beyond the shutter.
Come, spirit; come, my supportive angel.
I no longer know what to do, what to say,

because I long to eat breakfast
with my father, my sage, my almsman,
at 81 Tirrey Avenue.

A different parrot

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 70th birthday.

07-04-22 Rodriguez
Reina María Rodríguez
b. 1952

Naturally, Flaubert’s parrot
could not be called Chucho,
his author wouldn’t stick him
with a name like that.
From which follows the importance of names.
But in the stories last night
—the reconstruction of a postcard
which we were creating to
resemble Christmas—
chess pieces
nearly dismembered
in the children’s hands
before midnight,
they had to pull out the parrot
with his blue half-exposed
chest feathers
and the nun who comes
when he sings
“o whore, o whore, o whore,”
and her face colors
all the way to the wine
all the way to believing herself so
—though she wasn’t—
with the pleasure of
believing herself something she is not,
shame into the alien
Is it true that after an outcry
they erupt – the things we believed ourselves to be?


The parrot Loulou “…used to descend the stairs
by setting the curve of her beak
on the steps.”
Then she disappeared forever
and her owner, Felicity, never
got over it,
or the nun either.
The family blames themselves
and they still make the sign of the cross,
for they didn’t train him to the level
of the occasion:
he was not Flaubert’s parrot
who upheld a name
with her hauteur – her meaning –
just an ordinary parrot
named, to his disadvantage,

Translation by Kristin Dykstra


We present this work in honor of the 25th anniversary of the poet’s death.

04-27 Loynaz
Dulce Maria Loynaz
1902 – 1997


In my garden, roses:
I don’t want to give you roses
that tomorrow…
that tomorrow you won’t have.

In my garden, birds
with crystal song:
I do not give them to you;
they have wings to fly.

In my garden, bees
craft a fine hive:
A minute’s sweetness…
I don’t want to give you that!

For you, the infinite or nothing:
what is immortal or this mute sadness
you won’t understand…
The unnamable sadness of not having
something to give
to someone who carries on the forehead
a portion of eternity.

Leave, leave the garden…
Don’t touch the roses:
things that die
should not be touched.


01-25 Bernal
Emilia Bernal
1884 – 1964


Amber. Marble. Sapphire. The jingling babble
of magic treasure. May my bold desires
make the most of such enchantment. Let me
stir them around with my hand.

Alabaster and azure. Day’s blood.
Stones in a heap. Roses made of milk.
Great laughter of light. My longing grasps
and tumbles the precious jewels.

Sea. Sky. Sun in my arms!
of bright diamonds playing!
Malachite, topaz. Serpentine ribbons
sparkling in my hands! Caught
in my fingers, wreaths of turquoise,
lapis lazuli, jade, aquamarine!


Translation by Liz Henry