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Three Poems

Guillermo Castro

A Good Word Like That



I do get it.

Listen, I’ve already adopted some precious sounds


For a flagless land of the mind I not only call

The Mother but also the Daughter;


I am torn between the two

In a distant field

Somewhere amid perky words

As a lessee of American English—


And I’m ready to discharge my guns

On the savage minutemen at the checkpoint.


I take them as they come, words, one by one,

At times as a pack, strays mooching

About the muy mucho dangerous borders.


Clearly they’re not pretty spaniels

Under all that clouding trouble called the sky.


Meanwhile el brain en Español

Sits there wagging its spinal cord in a show of pure, fetching want


I shall resist: I don’t ever ask of it

For an equivalent on any given word in English

Volleyed our way.


Yet watching this young girl in a movie

Translate into Spanish for her mom

I hear “Get it?” interpreted as “¿Entiende?”


Of course! To be more like that girl

And think of a good word like that. Listen—


I’m singing to my precious sounds, my children,

Spanglish, Espanglés and Englishñol



Argentine Music



I cannot rival this piano I hear

the little twisters plunging

into dark dark chords and then up & up again so fast

        to reach

        a clearing

before this:

                 If I could only suspend myself on a single violin note

like this one,

                    travel to Buenos Aires with my hunger

and the rumble of a piano in my stomach.


Oh if I could only play anything like this,

a bandoneón that slits through the creamy scream of strings

the tenderest knife!

That violin again   a skater cutting figures in solitude

and underneath the piano



                                       single phrase

                           four notes                      bloom



            I think of you, Papá.

You loathe Piazzolla and yet resemble him.

He wrote this piece for the passing of his own father.

You’re well and alone, 70 years old,

                                      in that new house,

and it rains with the fury of tango steps.

A bottle of wine on your table.

The ghosts of dogs and a tool shack

with instruments I wouldn’t know

how to use.


The main theme is back—

Piazzolla and his bandoneón unfurl

                                      breath   in and   out

out and extended, a bridge.


                                                  a son of your traditions,

you combed your hair in the reflection

of fag-cleared streets.

                              I want you to feel it,

please really listen


       the lick of Piazzolla’s fingers

       on the bandoneón’s slick buttons

                                     and now

              the urgency

                        the emergency

a rupture in the structure of the bridge

a near collapse,

                         his entire band an exquisite machinery

carrying out melancholy’s orders:

        Get drunk on this!

                                   Maybe we’re bound for disaster, Papá,

maybe we’ll never understand








The Smell of Popcorn


The good news is Mark’s feeling much better

Thanks to blue caplets the size of pearls worn by small fish.

He’s talking pizza and hamburgers and other unholy foodstuff

That would enrage South Beach dieters. A visitor here

I’ve brought a typewriter and must hurry up as we’re getting hungry. It feels,

This typing the old way, like going back to a source

When my proto-poems crawled from the primordial Olivetti ribbon;

The body was innocent and unaware of the damage that lusted

After it every-fucking-where in the sugary jungles of youth. There are limits

To the source though, words I shoot down with a volley of X’s.

I don’t like popcorn but enjoy the smell as it fills Mark’s place

And the way the Redenbacher bag inflates in the microwave

Like a buttery ghost. So I will turn down the popcorn and instead

Take the rosebud green tea bearer of antioxidants Mark serves.

It is good, this tea, and the soft baked oatmeal raisin cookie

I’ve fished from the fridge, better than the kooky sun over Queens

On my way to get the medicine. I like the feeling

When my head opens up and words go rat-a-tat-tat on the page

Even if my fingers have to struggle upstream this difficult keyboard

Riddled with weak A’s and an uncertain uppercase function.

I want to think I look cool like a 24-year-old Bob Dylan

At his Underwood, minus the Afro-Mod hair and the cigarettes.

Winter flakes are due soon. Mark knits and smokes watching

Achiote seeds sizzle with the chorizo on the TV screen sauce.

I love raisins. I love the smell of popcorn in Mark’s hair when I kiss him.