Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, 1989
All the windows are guileless and open to the sea,
_ _the murmur of Atlantic coral:
_ _smash them with your song,
wild to the Western ear—
_ _And who are you,
with your stripping punches—
_ _you’re uprooting the palms,
you’re tearing the leaves—
_ _oh what you love is the skeletal—
and who am I,
_ _that you would take my verdant snake,
my blessed island,
_ _and dash it to pieces?
If this day, this aftermath,
_ _is a thorny school,
the sere light and the day,
_ _then what is the lesson in it?
That the gift is always imperilled?
_ _That the swart, surviving horses,
the veteran palms
_ _seem more alive now, more alive?—
In the iron, gargantuan hush:
_ _medicine and smithereens,
a fierce concentration
_ _on cherishing the living.
From spirit back to spirit again;
_ _dash it to pieces, Creator, Destroyer,
you pirate god, Huracán,
_ _with your ferocious gangplank,
your pitiless and raucous
And yet it dares to be born,
_ _mud-fresh, mud-fresh,
like a foal,
_ _amid the wreckage, the bankruptcy:
from spirit into flesh again:
Cyrus Cassells, the 2021–22 poet laureate of Texas, is the author of nine books of poetry, including Is There Room For Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? (Four Way Books, forthcoming 2024),The World That the Shooter Left Us (Four Way, 2022), and The Gospel according to Wild Indigo (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018). He is the translator from the Catalan of Still Life with Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas (Stephen F. Austin University, 2019), which won the Texas Institute of Letters’s Souerette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translated Book. His honors also include a Lannan Literary Award, a Lambda Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, two NEA grants, the Balcones Prize, an NAACP Image Award nomination, and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award. (updated 10/2022)
Cassells’s AGNI poem “Elegy with a Gold Cradle” was chosen for The Best American Poetry 2017.