Poetry

Walking in Two Worlds

On the border between sonho e silêncio/dream and silence
Something crouches in the rugs
rustles in the china cabinet    whispers in
the tables and chairs  

only a thickness
in the air    only a quick movement
caught out of the corner of one eye
something from the jungles of the south
a cloud of white termites    the scent
of catuaba    shadows that tremble incessantly

Xangô god of thunder    Olokun owner of oceans
here in the cold lands
the paperweights on the windowsills
are starting fires
aqui nas terras frígidas
the snow is burning
   
here    something
is following at our heals
hunting us down    taking our measure    
unweaving our dreams

Copyright Mary Mackey, 2011
From “Sugar Zone”

A Visitor’s Guide To The Favelas Of Rio

Rocinha, Mangeira, Morro de Macacos
up on the hills they are casting the shells
O côro das vozes femininas cantando
looking into the future rattling the buzios
pasting dyed chicken feathers on Carnival floats
beheading dogs smoking crack burning
the buses não esperam a noite

in Cantagalo, Serrinha, Salguiero
they are calling on Xangô the warrior Eshu
who opens and closes roads Oshun who eats
acarajé cooked with palm oil thick as sewage
orange as longing

here on the beach the waves rush toward us
bruising our legs and sucking us in
tem cuidado beware of the undertow

Babalônia, Cajuiero, Tavares Bastos
Morro Azul, Jacarezinho, Cidade de Deus

gunfire rattles off the cinderblock houses
there are dead roses in the water
gold-wrapped candy papayas gum

who made these offerings?
what gods do they pray to?
when will we meet them?
what will they want?

Copyright Mary Mackey, 2011
From “Sugar Zone”

Sugar Zone

Sempre me amedrontou I have always
been afraid tankers strung out along the horizon
like a necklace of black
seeds a idéia de ter um filho of the idea
of having a child let’s get drunk
on cachaca forget her outstretched
hands her face the delicate angle of her nose
her children selling candy roses cor de pedras
color of stones amethyst, emerald, diamond
all day the tankers come and go the mill grinds
barefoot men and women cut
and cut

for a whole week I missed Solange
Durante uma semana mes equeci
then clarity for three days
limpeza limpeza
they sleep on the
black and white tiles that wind beneath our feet
steal the food off our plates
We eat behind fences
the ticks drop off the
trees and settle between our cold beer
and cashews plastic straws blow down the beach
like transparent wands a ciudade só voltarava a existir
depois de 20 de janeiro
 (this city has only existed
since the 20th of January) for twenty minutes we
stood in the deserted street
figuei olhando looking
for something
no longer
there

Copyright Mary Mackey, 2011
From “Sugar Zone”

The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams

Up on the Orinoco, Rio Negro, Solimões,
Tocantins, Xingu, Javary
they’re drinking the bebida preta/black drink
snake vine ayahuasca/yage/ blood of the great anaconda
with the smoke of burning rainforests in their nostrils
and o gosto de cinzas/taste of ashes on their tongues

Eles estão comendo they’re eating
purple snails powdered viper venom
lagartas esmagadas flowers that dye their lips
the color of blood singing of cities of blue glass
and the jaguars that prowl our dreams

O que mais/what else are they seeing?
o que mais do they know?

they’re not saying
they’re not telling
they’re calling on the ghost tribes instead

ghosts of the Tupinambá, Tupinaquim, Amoré
lost upriver forever
lost in the burning world

Copyright Mary Mackey, 2011
From “Sugar Zone”

The Kama Sutra of Kindness: Position No. 2

should I greet you
as if
we had merely eaten
together one night
when the white birches
dripped wet
and lightning etched
black trees on your walls?

it is not love
I am asking

love comes from years
of breathing
skin to skin
tangled in each other’s dreams
until each night
weaves another thread
in the same web
of blood and sleep

and I have only
passed through you quickly
like light
and you have only
surrounded me suddenly
like flame

the lake is cold
the snows are sudden
the wild cherry bends
and winter’s a burden

in your hand I feel
spring burn in the bud.

Copyright, Mary Mackey 1987
From “The Dear Dance of Eros”

The Kama Sutra of Kindness: Position Number 3

It’s easy to love
through a cold spring
when the poles
of the willows
turn green
pollen falls like
a yellow curtain
and the scent of
Paper Whites
clots
the air

but to love for a lifetime
takes talent

you have to mix yourself
with the strange
beauty of someone
else
wake each morning
for 72,000
mornings in
a row so
breathed and
bound and
tangled
that you can hardly
sort out
your arms
and
legs

you have to
find forgiveness
in everything
even ink stains
and broken
cups

you have be willing to move through
life
together
the way the long
grasses move
in a field
when you careen
blindly toward
the other
side

there’s never going to be anything
straight or predictable
about your path
except the
flattening
and the springing
back

you just go on walking for years
hand in hand
waist deep in the weeds
bent slightly forward
like two question
marks
and all the while it
burns
my dear
it burns beautifully above
you
and goes on
burning
like a relentless
sun

Copyright Mary Mackey, 2006 
From “Breaking The Fever”

All the Way Down

the car fell very    slowly
turning like a wheel
of light

inside    we lost
all power to think
swam in midair all the way down
without remembering
the rocks that lay below

clear as water    minds purified
of terror
how easily we breathed in
this new element
how serenely    we stared
out the windows

near the end we saw
great waving fans of coral
and schools of silver fish
no bigger than our thumbs

the music of whale songs
played incessantly in our ears
and briefly    (very briefly)
we were happy

Copyright Mary Mackey, 2011
From “Sugar Zone”