Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Adela Najarro

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Volcanic Poetics

After iguanas ran off with the sun,
after pericos emerged violently squawking,

after soldiers left
bullet holes and torn mattresses

and the dictator collected
music boxes and skulls,

a song rose from the stink
of a river festering yellow mud

where one eye of a crocodile
watched you, I, we, todos

break bones, break bodies.
I want to tell you about after,

how bones knit, courage rises,
and we stave off despair.

Once in that country filled with mango trees,
where sharks live in fresh water,

where monkeys are kept on leashes,
where the ice cream is salty,

el ministro de Cultura issued
a call to language

as action, a call to write poems
about ordinary objects

and Exteriorismo began stirring
a pot of beans, adding

oil and then left over rice,
to make gallo pinto. A plain dish

that Danny likes, a child, our child,
here in the States with Nica blood.

Poems are his legacy,
along with a lava-filled past

that percolated a revolution
of sound, vida, and ranas,

ranitas, little froggies on a farm
on the road to Momotombo.

My mother’s words
explode volcanic vowels.

¡Ay! ¡Cómo queman!
The slow burn down

the side of a mountain
with its top blown off.

Nature on fire. Poetry
a living thing.

 

Before the Volcano Blows

I will speak Spanish
to many stray dogs with fleas
and find my way

to a nameless street
where angels spoke
to my mother as a girl.

Momotombo will simmer
its vengeful breath
rumbling and roaring
in the background.

It will be a simple matter,
by then,
to stand at the edge
of a world gone mad

since all the secrets
will have been released
into the rainforest canopy
between Managua and León.

The few vowels left
will explode from parrots squawking
and truth will rain down
upon all who accompany

the poor and tired
endlessly scratching memories.

This is all because of my mother’s whispers
and that I can never remember
her exact birthday.

Was it on the 22nd or the 28th
that she broke into the world
with a cacophony of lament

and taught me to hide within the walls
of my own deception?

Too many have withstood
the cataclysm of broken doors,
the harangue of voices
that never cease, the visceral schema
of too much that has come before.

When I finally arrive,
my own broken being
packed tight
in a worn leather bag,

I will not cry into satin blankets.

Instead, I will sip mint tea
with two ice cubes slowly melting
as my hair curls
into ash and dust.

***

Photograph of Adela Najarro by Portia Shao.


Adela Najarro’s Volcanic Interruptions comes out in 2022 from Jamii Press and includes original artwork by Janet Trenchard. The two poems that appear in The Rumpus are in that collection. Stay tuned for more information on how to purchase a copy. Adela is the author of three additional poetry collections: Split Geography, Twice Told Over and My Childrens, a chapbook that includes teaching resources. With My Childrens she hopes to bring poetry into the classroom so that students can explore creative writing, identity, and what it means to be Latinx in US society. More information about Adela can be found at her website: www.adelanajarro.com. More from this author →