Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 23, Poem 23 - Cumbia Night at the Hotel Congress - Tucson, AZ

Cumbia night at the Hotel Congress – Tucson, AZ

In any language the brass is a breathy narrative,

the horns are a village of callings-out

to the people gathered in the square;

and if the horns are announcement

and oratory; if the horns then pronounce

into being the landscape by which

we will enter this village, if the trombone’s

deep bluster is how you ask permission

of the elders to rest in this town,

then the guitars are this town’s

juiciest gossip; the fret

and the strum piecing together

a wonderful legend of all our

being gathered here, even the cantaro’s

counterpoint of flamencoed foot-chatter

offers clarification to the story

being told. And if we are here

for the story and by listening here

adding to the action; the fable

which the room shall become,

then the DJ comes to tell

news from a different land

and if you don’t think this all

and the cantaro’s upper-register

tremolo, is a bible, then why

is the dance (when done well)

a worship of sorts – the spirits

in sweat visitation coming to bring

us all the power. And if you know

cumbia at all, then of course you know

Shango is in the room and there

is no accident in this woman’s

hips, her black hair, the oily

sheen of sweat on her back

and in your hands – an ordination

of ritual you are forever obliged

to enjoin. And if the saxophone’s

continued wail, which you now know

is a prayer, and so you open

your palms to her palms and

your shoulders to the next downbeat,

and you believe yourself tithed

to the necessary orishas, then

you might have forgotten, the drum’s

decree – how to be fully sanctified

you must abandon hope in it,

and this woman – Frida is her name –

knows everything about the skeletons

you must risk in order to win

the orishas’ favor, and so

is only being patient with your

move towards baptism – and your sweat

is not by itself enough. You

own nothing of this town or this

story, no matter how many

premonitions the building gives you,

how many ghosts are said to roam

its rooms, and whom you swear

pushed you further into her chest

and the steep embankment

of her grind. You could call

yourself dancing then. You

could ask the elders for permission

to lay your head in the town.

You are deep enough in

to ask them permission to leave.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email


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