The Night That Sings
by Dario Beniquez (September 2023)
The Angel, Standing in the Sun, J.M.W. Turner, 1846
Stranger in a Strange Land
I was born in Queens, NY, during a cold October day.
Rockaway Beach was my playground when I was a child.
But why do I think this is not so? One time
the Atlantic tried to carry me away, to a distant land,
________________to an island, I think.
A dolphin saved me, took me to shore.
I was thirteen. Later, I flew to the Mojave Desert
________________where scorpions raised me.
So I walk out into the universe to test my existence.
Why does worry preoccupy the city, the planet?
In the migrant center, I hand out a box lunch
to a little boy drumming a cartoon tune.
A mother sits on the floor, bottle-feeds a child.
She looks up at me. I give her two boxes.
Souls in a strange land, different pace, mortal time…
A man stands in a cold corner of the migrant center,
he carries a canvas tote bag, inside the bag, one short sleeve
shirt and dungarees.
He cautiously walks up to me and says, “Tengo hambre.”
I reach for another box lunch.
The stench of God is everywhere, in the water, on the walls,
in the air.
The world spins on, the city stamps on. Migrants,
folks, knock on doors.
Angel of Poetry
I am the poem you refuse to hear,
the one on the edge of your tongue
the one resounding in your ear,
I repeat myself for lack of want.
I come to you in your dreams,
an angel in disguise.
I tell you intimate things about yourself,
your life your lies. Each wingbeat
tells you who you are, you are isolated,
deserted, in a crowd of solitude.
I am soul speak, a lyrical truth, singing to you
in an ancient tune. Open your world let me
in. I will bless you; comfort you. I am the voice
of light, a luminaria unto your soul.
From the 22nd floor
of Skyline Flats on Beach 20th street
beyond the jetties, one cannot see
the maritime vessels departing Jamaica Bay
for the mighty Atlantic,
but one can see the Manhattan nightlights,
to Battery Park, beyond that to Freedom Tower
that reaches to the seventh heaven.
If you were to walk these streets,
you would be awestruck by the stream of luminous
sparkles racing by, and then you would wonder
if you were in a universe where light-creatures rule.
And as snowdrops fade on Park Avenue,
you in your oceanic dream world
would not want to leave this place,
Lucky City—not even in your far-off dreams.
Nothing startles me, not even the red robin swishing by, or the crashing sound of a tall waterfall crunching the ground. Stillness reigns like a moonlit blanket of snow in the Alps where the crawling eye lives that slimy sci-fi creature waving tentacles, saying, “I got you, now, sucker!”
Nothing jolts me, except, perhaps, that one earthquake in California that hit 6.7 on the Richter scale. It woke me up at 4 a.m. to books smacking the floor. Kafka’s The Metamorphosis tore me from my spell with a knock on the head. But the ground stopped shaking in 1994, and the world seemed safer.
What triggers me now is a humming plane overhead; it turns out nothing, after all, but a hummingbird over an orange flower. Or, my Lord! A virus has gone mad.
The Night That Sings
For Trinidad Sanchez
I dream angels. I see angels, behind doors, peering out of high-rise windows, wings, dark, ready for flight. Angels perched on roofs like gargoyles at Notre Dame.
I see them on the avenue in the supermarket at the vegetable counter, fruit stand, grabbing crab apples no one eats.
All over, angels hover on street corners, at bus stops, some on benches eating sandwiches; angels with dark eyes looking at people as they rush by.
I once saw an angel under a bridge, wings folded, homeless. At the playground, I saw small angels climbing the monkey bars. But most of all I see them at hospitals, angels waiting at the ICU, a place where Trinidad once slept. At night, they rub their wings as souls travel to paradise.
For Bill Grace
Flossy our cow was the first to go,
swooped up by a green beam,
up to the underside of a blinking
Tobacco pipe airship. Then
the rusty John Deere Tractor, Nelly,
my beloved dragster, our economic
means taken too, gone, leaving
the cornfield in dismay.
What would they want with a machine?
How can I ever be happy again without
Nelly’s sweet touch? And Flossy, where
is she now? The ice cream maker not taken
sits frozen, grinning, by the back shed.
This is crazy; I fear alien dissection. They,
also, took the tattered Britannica from the barn.
What’s up with that? How can I survive?
I could turn to writing about farming
like Klinkenborg, the writer, who sold his farm.
But the sky has swallowed my inspiration. My wife
and kids took off to the city; I pray—not to return.
Who knows what these strange beings will take next?
The house is gone. I want Flossy back. They can keep
I’ll just live in Papa’s clapboard house,
and write and write about those stinking aliens,
who took my cow away.
The Green-Blue Sea
They will go first
before we do
the roaches, rats, sparrows,
or the possum with the glass eye that waits
every day by the stairs
for the leftovers,
no one brings
because we may not be here
unless we change our natural
point of view.
We may perish, no doubt about it,
no land to spare, no water in the pale-blue tank
“Holly Oaks Township, Welcomes You, Drive Safely!”
We’ll have no place to play.
We still have time; we can survive,
with or without science. We’re sentient
beings, no doubt about it.
even a chicken or two, field-fed
add a plot of land to the ranch:
we can survive. The earth
taketh away; the earth giveth.
Listen to the ants,
follow the pelicans,
out toward the green-blue sea.
Dario Beniquez was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and raised in Far Rockaway, NY. He is a Poet, engineer, and Writing Workshop Facilitator at the Gemini Ink San Antonio’s Writing Arts Center. He is also a Poetry Instructor for Voices de la Luna. Dario is the author of Zone of Silence, a poetry collection, now available at Amazon or FlowerSongPress.
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