Time Zones

By Victor Hernández Cruz b. 1949 Victor Hernandez Cruz
Time is crying upon the backs of lizards,
Through the white stone of the medieval city
They dash.
The houses that are walking up the stairs,
Flowers out of ruins,
Further into the fortress,
The sounds of a language registers
In our dreams.
 
Words which are my hat in the city,
Coming through the bamboo
The shadows of lost meaning—
Tilted light making slivers
Through the forest of the mambo
Behind the eyes.
 
Time will shine your head into skull
The circle song will come again and again,
If we forget how to lay out a village,
Just open a guayaba in half,
These seeds are perfect,
And can guide you back,
Your hands the electric of the ghosts.
 
In the Persia of shining alfombras,
A belly button silks upon a horse,
Enters a tent of rhythms,
Makes the trees dance into shape,
Rubén Darío saw them in the river,
Bathing in the echoes of the castles,
His Indio head,
Clean enough to measure
The tempo of a camel,
The first string that vibrated
The Rock of Gibraltar,
To sway Greco-Roman lips,
Arising fire of Gypsy song,
Was making Castile dress and undress,
With the sounds that were hitting the moon
And falling down unto earth as colors.
 
Of boats that were my shoes.
Atlantic chachachá.
Splicing through 101st Street brick.
Which covered dancing verdure green
Rectangular mangos,
Cylindric bananas
Sounds in the sky blue tropic: mind.
 
Trees are making maracas
That will soon make you dance.
 
Water is their god of cadence,
As I sea walk through coconut heights,
Legs of tamarind,
Purple orchids arranged like syllables,
Insects of the morning dew sting verses on café.
In embroidery of Italians,
Garcilaso came to José Martí,
Who ducked Spanish spies
In Manhattan
And hugged Walt Whitman’s beard in Philadelphia
As the Cuban Habaneras’ Shango
Made it south to tango.
 
Boats are ages sailing on water,
Parrots are flying out of castanets,
Flamenco peeling pineapples
That go up the river,
The water that became El Quijote’s language,
As a cane field disappears into a bottle,
To awake in a little town
With molasses orbiting the cathedral,
A wooden saint slicing through the
Mountain full of potassium radiation,
Slanted plátanos pointing into medieval
Liturgy,
Bongo and ocean waves carving
Phantasmal antiquity
Through the fabulous language
That has taken the shape of
An Andalusian rhyming door,
One after the other.
Perfume pagano
Sailing out of the archways,
As Ricardo Ray turns into a centipede,
Marching across a Brooklyn piano,
For dancers to Sanskrit their
Gypsy feet,
Upon Albaicín ceramic tile.
Caribbean sun melts the caramel,
Making our first national flag:
White skirts waving  in the air.
Machetes taking off like helicopters
Chopping off branches for timbale sticks,
The hands of the sun hitting the
Moon like a drum—
Making the atmosphere of moisture
Heat up,
For the chorus of the song
To come back down upon us polinizando
The carnival flower,
A serenade walkilipiando.
 
Sliding upon seashells,
That disappear into the foam of time,
One age living next to another,
We are both living things at once,
We are the cadaver that is
About to be born.

Victor Hernandez Cruz, “Time Zones” from Maraca: New and Selected Poems 1966-2000. Copyright © 2001 by Victor Hernandez Cruz. Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press. www.coffeehousepress.org

Source: Maraca: New and Selected Poems 1966-2000 (Coffee House Press, 2001)

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Poet Victor Hernández Cruz b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Victor Hernández Cruz

Biography

Victor Hernandez Cruz was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. He moved to New York City with his family when he was five years old, but he didn’t start learning English until two years later when his family bought a television set. He started writing poetry early and at seventeen self-published his first book, Papo Got His Gun! And Other Poems, on a mimeograph machine. Since then, more than a dozen collections of his poems—among . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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