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Best Famous Rafael Guillen Poems

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by Rafael Guillen | |

El Cafetal

 I came with the rising sun and I've brought
nothing but two eyes, all I have,
simply two eyes, for the harvest
of grief that's hidden in this jungle
like the coffee shrubs.
Fewer, but they fling themselves upwards, untouchable, are the trees that invidiously shut out the light from this overwhelming indigence.
With my machete I go through the paths of the cafetal.
Intricate paths where the tamags lies in wait, sunk in the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics, the carnal luxury that gleams in the eyes of the Creole overseer; sinuous paths between junipers and avocados where human thought, cowed since before the white man, has never found any other light than the well of Quich; blind; drowning in itself.
Picking berries, the guanacos hope only for a snort to free them from the cafetal.
Through the humid shade beneath the giant ceibas, Indian women in all colors crawl like ants, one behind the other, with the load balanced on a waking sleep.
They don't exist.
They've never been born and still they are dying daily, rubbed raw, turned to wet earth with the plantation, hunkered for days in the road to watch over the man eternally blasted on booze, as good as dead from one rain to the next, under the shrubs of the cafetal.
The population has disappeared into the coffee bean, and a tide of white lightning seeps in to cover them.
I stretch out a hand, pluck the red berry, submit it to the test of water, scrub it, wait for the fermentation of the sweet pulp to release the bean.
How many centuries, now? How much misery does it cost to become a man? How much mourning? With a few strokes of the rake, the stripped bean dries in the sun.
It crackles, and I feel it under my feet.
Eternal drying shed of the cafetal! Backwash of consciousness, soul sown with corn-mush and corn cobs, blood stained with the black native dye.
Man below.
Above, the volcanos.
Guatemala throws me to my knees while every afternoon, with rain and thunder, Tohil the Powerful lashes this newly-arrived back.
Lamentation is the vegetal murmur, tender of the cafetal.
Glossary: Cafetal: a coffee plantation tamag?s: a venomous serpent guanaco: a pack animal, used insultingly to indicate the native laborers ceiba: a tall tropical hardwood tree


by Rafael Guillen | |

Not Fear

 Not fear.
Maybe, out there somewhere, the possibility of fear; the wall that might tumble down, because it's for sure that behind it is the sea.
Not fear.
Fear has a countenance; It's external, concrete, like a rifle, a shot bolt, a suffering child, like the darkness that's hidden in every human mouth.
Not fear.
Maybe only the brand of the offspring of fear.
It's a narrow, interminable street with all the windows darkened, a thread spun out from a sticky hand, friendly, yes, not a friend.
It's a nightmare of polite ritual wearing a frightwig.
Not fear.
Fear is a door slammed in your face.
I'm speaking here of a labyrinth of doors already closed, with assumed reasons for being, or not being, for categorizing bad luck or good, bread, or an expression — tenderness and panic and frigidity - for the children growing up.
And the silence.
And the cities, sparkling, empty.
and the mediocrity, like a hot lava, spewed out over the grain, and the voice, and the idea.
It's not fear.
The real fear hasn't come yet.
But it will.
It's the doublethink that believes peace is only another movement.
And I say it with suspicion, at the top of my lungs.
And it's not fear, no.
It's the certainty that I'm betting, on a single card, the whole haystack I've piled up, straw by straw, for my fellow man.


by Rafael Guillen | |

I Hardly Remember

 I hardly remember your voice, but the pain of you
floats in some remote current of my blood.
I carry you in my depths, trapped in the sludge like one of those corpses the sea refuses to give up.
It was a spoiled remnant of the South.
A beach without fishing boats, where the sun was for sale.
A stretch of shore, now a jungle of lights and languages that grudgingly offered, defeated, its obligation of sand.
The night of that day punished us at its whim.
I held you so close I could barely see you.
Autumn was brandishing guffaws and dancebands and the sea tore at the pleasure-boats in a frenzy.
Your hand balanced, with its steady heat, the wavering tepidness of alcohol.
The gardens came at me from far away through your skirt.
My high-tide mark rose to the level of your breasts.
Carpets, like tentacles, wriggling down to the strand, attracted passers-by to the mouth of the clamor.
With lights and curtains, above the tedium the bedrooms murmured in the grand hotels.
There are dark moments when our ballast gives out from so much banging around.
Moments, or centuries, when the flesh revels in its nakedness and reels to its own destruction, sucking the life from itself.
I groped around me, trying on your embrace, but love was not where your embrace was.
I felt your hands stroking that physical ache but a great nothing went before your hands.
I searched, down the length of your soulless surrender, for a calm bay where I could cast a net, yearning to hear a trace of the vendor's voice still wet with the glimmer of the flapping minnows.
It was a spoiled remnant of the South.
The aroma of muscatel was tainted with whiskey breath.
I carry that dead embrace inside me yet like a foreign object the flesh tries to reject.