Spring 2009

Table of Contents - Vol. V, No. 1


Poetry     Interview     Translations     Fiction     Book Reviews

Bernard Henrie


A Traveler Taken Into the Hands of the Moon

A Greyhound traveler on a winter
night fallen dirty drunk
onto a conch shell seat.

The bus cautious, silent
like a Huron bride raiding party.

Cities black as London in the blitz.
Early snow, the road not yet closed,
snowplows hunched like crows on a wire.

My home town passes outside
the black sea of the window.

High school
and all my unlearned French.
The marriage, marine service
and coming home

discussed like ordering a meal.
Property divided
on the back of a napkin.

Days slip their leash.
Birds change tint,
lift off for southern states.

I drift, idle, a man without
work. Life pissed into a

corner; under a cerulean sky
the moon sags into the rose glove
of the earth's quarter dark.


The Handsomest Man in Cuba

I talk to you like a small town editor pounding his typewriter late at night, or the handsomest man in Cuba singing at the Hotel Nacional in a white dinner jacket and bow tie, or an architecture student lazing at the Malecon seawall, smoke drifts to Havana, the heat and boredom so heavy and this blackness from the window, my yellow Desoto rests faithfully below and a passing train far off whistles with ripe bananas and tins of condensed milk, I cannot think straight...

The office empty, the broiling sky scooped into rainless clouds between the farms, the green tractor in the stubble field where you read my letter,

the scalding, truck-watered streets where you thumb my epistle by the one street light, a room where you dance

with a heavy woman whose name I do not know, your barracks, your bus
your shaking boat headed to Florida,

I’m speaking to you, the resolutions, the relentless exhortations on our black and white TV. Excuse my desolation, my unkempt apperance.

Trips to harvest the cane by students, the stumbling, rusted taxis, the eternal sacrifice and doing without, the lying to ourselves

about our importance, the medical school and broken x-ray machine, broken sides of every building, broken sidewalks on broken streets.

Wind on the corrugated roofs of the one room farmhouses, my words in the dripping tomatoes, the hand painted rocking chairs and garden poinsettias.

You veteranos in the colonial square over dominoes, shirts dry in the limp air above your white hair – your carbine still oiled from the Sierra Maestra.

How often I stumble no longer believing in the collective, but the commonweal shimmers, a friend holding the hand of a friend.

The entire generation sacrificed and set aside as a newspaper truck returns with unsold copies.

I cannot think straight, sick with the disease of having nothing, the power poles without power, laws made in secret, my oration for the fallen dead,

false reports of spies listening at soccer fields, whispers and the snoozing grumble of half-fed

boys, yes I see you thinking of a crime, demanding a voice from the patched telephone, clutching your spare white undershirt.

The haze of cooking oil, the vereda tropical of food smells--- our path of cooking beans and scented rice --- fraternal order of cooking pans.

The reader by a low watt bulb, light crust of mildew in the old walls and hallways, the stiffening limb of a flower in a window pot.

The flight into reverie and remembrance, looking homeward where home no longer exists.

The aloneness to which the aging embargo condemns my island, whiskered young men sit dumbfounded, silently weeping

into the green Caribbean breakers, women of plumbed sepia open their arms humming.


© Bernard Henrie



Poetry     Interview     Translations     Fiction     Book Reviews

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