Currently, I am captivated by writing poems about the meaning of current and historical events and figures. Current work includes:

Conjuring Neruda on His Centennial about a reverie commemorating the life and work of Pablo Neruda;

Hungry River, Hungry Coyote about an imagined conversation between William Stafford and NezahualCóyotl;

Sounding Restoration about the salvage of an extinct language based on Alexander Von Humboldt's work with Maypure parrots in South America;

tourist-attraction.com about an invented Web site ad for the youth sex trade in Romania.

 

CONJURING NERUDA ON HIS CENTENNIAL

We first met in Absence and Presence,
your humble magnifying glass with eyes
beneath the surface.  This is where you still live:
below the world's fragile membrane.  In wooden shoes 

the size of pianos, a salted woman's torso, and bottles
with slim necks that swallowed tiny boats built by bees.
Used objects — mostly larger than life — all old and worn,
crowd your home in Isla Negra where your touch 

still skims their nicks and scratches like Braille,  
reads stories other than your own.  And in response
the six-foot fence circling this house names 
your memory through devotees' tattoos on cedar.

Cancer's crab winks at me tonight, reminds me 
of your perennial nature as I till moonlit sand 
smoothed by the same Pacific arresting 
Chilean shores.  A rare find: planed stone like verse 

crafted by your hand.  I rub this worried rosary bead 
again and again.  No, more like Aladdin's lamp,
I long for your genie form.  Polished with oil 
from thumbs, the stone smudges me with fingerprints — 

now my fingers speak new languages, hear voices 
of those who have known this stone.  We are not gone.
And all things you never saw as lifeless
enter their skins like snakes that never molt.

Published in The Grove Review
© 2005 Cindy Williams Gutiérrez
 

HUNGRY RIVER, HUNGRY COYOTE:

Found Conversation between William Stafford and NezahualCóyotl

Some time when the river is ice 
ask me mistakes I have made.
If only our hearts did not suffer!

You hear the river saying a prayer
for all that's gone.  We do not come again: 
only once your heart knows the earth.

Will you touch when you pass, like the rain?
Will I leave no thing behind me in the world?  
Will my name be nothing some time?

A storm will live somewhere in your 
canyons and hoard its lightning.
And all will be contained in an instant.

That is the way the whole world happened — 
there was nothing, and then —
In vain I was born.  In vain I left 

the house of god and came to earth 
like when a bell sounds and then leaves 
a whole countryside waiting.

Here only our heart sings briefly, briefly 
lent to one another — like a bubble 
that can disappear if we don't watch out.

We come but to sleep, we come  
but to dream.  And some time, they say, 
if you last long enough you will hear God.

Precious as jade Your flowers burst forth, 
oh Life Giver.  At least flowers,
at least songs!  They say there was a time 

when rocks liked to dance.  Here the law of the song 
governs, here the law of the flower governs, 
here on earth — this bowing to sun and moon. 
 
Ehuaya!  Do the song!  Do the dance!  This everything 
dance. You, azure bird, shining parrot, you walk flying.  
Breathe on the world. Hold out your hands to it. 

I am a singer, head of macaw.  I like to live in the sound 
of water.  What the river says, that is what I say.
We will pass away.  I, NezahualCóyotl, say, Enjoy!  

Lines taken from William Stafford's poems which appear in The Methow River Poems published by Confluence Press in 1995 and from various poems written by NezahualCóyotl (1403-1473), renowned as Mesoamerica's greatest poet-king. His name means "hungry coyote."
 

SOUNDING RESTORATION

Plumed orphans of the decimated Maypure refused
to leave the Orinoco jungle speechless.  Spoiling
the spoils of war, these parrots mocked their conquerors,

the Carib devils — Yasuri! — from their hellish perches.  
They spoke the language of loss, carried Maypure
ghosts like hosts on their tongues.  These emerald angels

returned to the wild the idiom condemned to ashes,
repeated its singular tones to keep history
from colliding with stone.  Such restitution 

of genocide is too beautiful to believe:
sonirri.  Today an artist, linguist and bird
behaviorist pollinate the present with the past,

lure Papetta and Apekiva to the honey —  
mapa, mapa — of Maypure words.  Soon the pair 
replenish time, yuvi, yuvi, soundly mimic 

two hundred-year-old ancestors in a dimly lit
exhibit in Connecticut.   I stand beside their 
penumbral aviary — more confessional than home — 

hear echoes of an ancient penance.  One of them calls to me:
nunaunari, friend.  I look up, suddenly deafened 
by the citrus-stained sky two thousand miles southwest 

where tribes of lime parrots congregate, stalk the green house 
of childhood.  Certain dialects should be obliterated — 
pain's beauty defies translation.  But birds restore

the Spring and jade-dreamt parrots proffer seeds
of reparation.  They mourn their dead, their distant 
families in Hartford, London, Istanbul and squawk —  
phantoms of a translucent time no longer lost.

Published in a special issue of CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW:
Ten Years After: Documenting a Decade, 1995-2005


© 2005 Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

The exhibit, May-por-é, created in 1997 by artist Rachel Berwick and bird behaviorist Sue Farlow, was first installed at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut. It was inspired by the legend that German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt — renowned for documenting the flora and fauna of Venezuela at the end of the 18th century — discovered that Carib parrots spoke Maypure, the language of a tribe annihilated by the Carib.

 

tourist-attraction.com

Should you like what you see, do stop
surfing and linger.  Kindly touch your
screen and we'll arrange your round-
trip ticket, so you may seek comfort

in the bodies you've been merely eyeing 
on-line.  Gentle sir, not to worry: we offer 
the ultimate in discretion.  And the boys 
so enjoy your accent as much as your hard

currency.  Never mind their bedroom eyes, sunken 
like your imperial Roman baths.  You'll soon lose 
yourself in their small round mouths, insatiably
open with hunger.  So come, come

invest in Romania's future.  Leave your marks
on this young democracy, prematurely coming 
of age like a street-wise adolescent — free 
to learn how to live hand to mouth.

Published in a special issue of CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW:
Ten Years After: Documenting a Decade, 1995-2005


© 2005 Cindy Williams Gutiérrez