City of a Hundred Fires (Blanco)

Blanco’s gentle poetry evokes a strong attraction to Cuba – the land, the food, all of it, including his mother. He concludes “Mail for Mama” by addressing her: “your eyes forever fixed / by a sentence of time, in a garden of never.” And then in “Mother Picking Produce”

I see all the folklore of her childhood, the fields,

the fruit she once picked from the very tree,

the wiry roots she pulled out of the very ground.//

And now, among the collapsed boxes of yuca,

through crumbling pyramids of golden mangos,

she moves with the same instinct and skill.

The first stanza is Cuba; the second, Miami.


He writes of his father as well, teaching him something in The Lesson:

What was the lesson, say it was a unique metaphor for what now

I understand as the necessity of killing beyond human wishes,

the very instincts that drive me to consume even what I love.

Notice the shift in tense.


I love Blanco’s verbs. A few examples —

“these faces will collage very Americanly” – “Photo Shop”

“We gypsy through the island’s north ridge” and “staked oars crucifixed on the shore”  — both from “Varedero en Alba”

Other favorites are “El Cucubano” and the beautiful “Palmita Mia.”




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