phren-z header logo
SCW Logo
Abstract 6

Painting by Gloria Alford
Current Issue
Archived Issues
Adela Najarro

Incantation Series 2.1


If the world is fracture and uncertainty,
let us take comfort in the unknown.

If the world is fracture and uncertainty,
let us take comfort in the unknown.

Rainfall collects then rushes through
          a bend in the river, 
          a gutter in an alley,
          a vortex in a warm sea.

Let us take comfort in the unknown.

Once concentric spheres made the sky.

Once God wore a beard and sandals.

Once we were water, sky, and stars.

Let us take comfort in the unknown,
if the world is fracture and uncertainty.

A bone can fracture.
A body bleed.
That is certain.

When a bone fractures,
guttural vowels howl.

When a body bleeds,
consonants cannot stop the pain.


It is certain that vowels escape
into what cannot be written

          as bones fracture,
          as bodies bleed.

Let us take comfort in the unknown,
the world is fracture and uncertainty.

In the beginning, a woman loved the stars,
          a man loved God, 
          both loved rainfall rushing
through concentric spheres in the sky.

It was known the Goddess
had thick breasts, belly and thighs,

and that we are brought to life
through water, sky, and stars.

Let us take comfort.

The world,

too often,

is fracture and unknown.

That is certain.

When Greg Calls

He begins to let me know about a speeding ticket:
                       How afternoon fog and acid rain evaporated a 55 mph sign.
                       How shadows obscured a hollow police car.
                       How the police looked at him

then asked if he’d been driving down Broadway in a lime green Cadillac.
                       He drives a maroon and gray SUV wagon
                       led by a sweaty train of roan stallions;
                       a General Motors standard operating vehicle
                       for divorced fathers and electricians.

I tell him to stop being paranoid, that the rules of the game equal
                       fair shares of meringue lightly browned at the peaks,
                       that the cop was simply doing his job
                       whipping cream of tartar into egg whites,

that sometimes you get tickets, to and from work, along a road of highway,
                       tickets that open heavy wooden doors
                       and acrobats twirl handstands on top of zebras,
                       but tickets. That’s all. Just a speeding ticket.

He says it’s not like that. Not paranoia. Not delusional.
                       That I should stop making up shadows,
                       rain, Cadillacs and police frothing
                       egg whites into meringue. All his life.
                       He has been who he is.

And I am silent. I should have known. I’ve always known.
                       The time when the parking garage attendant didn’t
                       let my father park and a roost of pigeons fluttered into dusk.

How I live with my name said two ways:
                       cold stones that clink clear English consonants
                       or steam simmering slowly off a pan de español.

How I explain to the Pilates instructor nonchalantly
                       why I don’t look Latina since
                       everyone associates blond hair with whiteness,
                       being white with America, and America
                       as being the United States.

I should have known. What is poetry without connotations?
                       In print, in dictionaries, thesauri, reference volumes:
                       dark links to dour, glum, concealed.
                       Dark-skinned leads to iniquity followed by wickedness.

On a daily basis. Since he was a little boy.
                       He has known how to walk down a street clutching
                       lucky charms his pockets. A worn Chinese penny,
                       a purple rabbit’s foot, and a smooth tumbled stone,

                       patience etched on one side,

                       forgiveness on the other.

Lorca's Rain

No te puedo decir. Sometimes,
I lose the words. El caracol
came from the onion skin pages
of Lorca’s collected works.
The volume in Spanish. A book
I found in a dresser drawer
alongside sticky Polaroid photos,
receipts from the cleaners, a bottle
of aspirin. My mother brought
his poems from Nicaragua,
along with a language woven
through memory and distance.
Now I speak Spanglish under
a wet sky, while orange poppies
lie low holding the weight of water.
Los caracoles in my garden grow
fat from rain and are eating away
an unidentified citrus; will it turn
out to be an orange or a lemon tree?
And the succulent jade. The leaves
all caracoled out. Snail bitten to pieces.
Where do they hide their teeth?
Then the rain. On Sunday.
Forgiven again. Water to cleanse,
dissolve mud stained smears,
and cast away what we do
to ourselves, those mistakes
we fold past in order to move on.
The poppies should dry out.
Los caracoles will continue to grow.
I have always loved my mother.
Even when language is not,
when doubt commands a heavy sky,
when a breath is hard to come by,
I will put down words dressed in red,
y palabras hechas para atras.

Adela Najarro

Adela Najarro’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and can be found in the University of Arizona Press anthology The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry. She chairs the Cabrillo College English Department and is on the board of directors for Poetry Santa Cruz. As her  poems show, at times she includes Spanish as part of her poetic voice. Her family immigrated to the US from Nicaragua in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, and she was raised bilingually; her poems, though English dominant, have found space for a duality of languages and linguistic expression. She holds a doctorate in literature and creative writing from Western Michigan University, as well as an M.F.A. from Vermont College. She has published poems in numerous journals, including Puerto del Sol, Feminist Studies, Notre Dame Review, Nimrod International Journal of Poetry & Prose, Blue Mesa Review, Crab Orchard Review, ACM: Another Chicago Magazine, and elsewhere. She now calls Santa Cruz home.

Issue Icon

Alta Ifland
Catherine Segurson

Danusha Lameris
Adela Najarro
Maggie Paul
Robert Sward
Ken Weisner

John Moir

  Current Issue/Home || Archive || FloodLight || About || Submit || Contact
Copyright © 2011 Santa Cruz Writes - All Rights Reserved