José M. Tirado – Five Poems

SELF PIC B N WJosé M. Tirado is a Puertorican poet and political writer living in Hafnarfjorður, Iceland, known for its elves, “hidden people” and lava fields. His articles and poetry have been featured in CounterPunch, Cyrano´s Journal, The Galway Review, Dissident Voice, La Respuesta, Op-Ed News, among others. He can be reached at



We sit where the waiting limits
Are stretched to transparency,
Like some sappy aria´s climax and our tears
Begin to yearn for more… or less, even,
But we still surrender to their desire
And, giving in, mount Heavenly realms
Sailing on seas of salty sprays.
In the heart, at the end of that journey,
We see scars whose rawness
Throw souls into tumult
Because resolution was not found.
But let´s not go there today.
While the rain dances,
Hold my hand a while.
There is still a steady pulse down here,
And a juicy rainbow above.



“and the light became so bright and so blindin´
in this layer of paradise
            that the mind of man was bewildered.”
-Ezra Pound, from CANTO XXXVIII

The desk was bent towards the Arctic sun
so he´d catch the morning and
work steadily till noon.
Pine cut clean, pine facing
the edge of town,
where chimneys smoked the northern skies.
Pine from floorboard
to Swedish pine ceiling and,
in the old German stove
pine continued to smell,
though birch logs were being burnt today.

The pen tipped up to cheek,
the eyes ran along
past the paper, (old style here)
the fields covered in crystal-wet white snow,
so he waited
for the shine to begin.

Instead, a vague blur crossed his sight-
a deer had
sprung into view, paused, then, spooked by some unseen
twitch nearby,
sprang back to the dark green
from where it had probably come.
The pen tipped down:

Universes folding, flowing, breathing,
expanding in infinite colors and
Light; born and breath
shapes the dark spaces between stars.
Fraught reminders of all our smallness.

Sitting now,
staring now,
the gray outside rolled in clouds
now born eastward,
passing overhead
splashing frozen tears against
double-paned windows
in the reflective part of
a day now going very cold.

The wool blankets were
always folded into the dark sharp corner of the house
back where he´d sleep, or,
for the rest to come.

Tea steamed and whistled;
boots by the door
would get little use today, he thought.
The run to the river might be
the writerly thing to do in summer,
but now, the birds were taunting in their ease,
while no blood flowed
near the extremities of his hand and
the extremes of his mind
sorely missed some foggy moment, a chance, a lurch
to inspiration that always needed catching.

From the side window
denser fog rested low, cottony,
burying the town
he didn´t want to see anyway.
Suddenly, against the stone wall outside, the silver snow shovel
appealed with more pull than
the old paper on the writing desk,
so he sat at the edge of his bed
and, rolling eyes and shaking head,
labored over the woolen socks
to break the monotony of the morning´s
reluctantly admitted first defeat.

The mission outside needed strict pacing-
today´s cold was implacable, nasty, so he worked
with dense solemnity around the closer edges of the cabin first,
and, widening out the space,
began the next forty minutes on the walk way
from the road with serious intent.
The wind was blinding in its severity and he whispered curses to himself.

The eyes burned with freeze,
the air blistered nostrils,
burning lungs,
burning the spare, exposed skin,
tightly bereft of blood near the surface.
Cold burns so clear, he thought, and the layers of heavy boots,
and heavy shirts, heavy coats and underneath,
the layers of underwear and heavy padding,
did little for the entire enterprise and, in the end,
when the shovel was placed back in the shed
where it truly belonged,
and he shuffled to the door,
the light broke briefly on his back and,
turning, he saw a quicksilvered
shimmer of sun
race from the clouds clear
to his face.

A small warmth.
A tender Heaven touch which resolved nothing, yet,
unraveled with small solicitude
a smaller Mystery of the pen
labored on over an hour earlier.

Inside the alcove, he hung his beaten coat
on the inner pegs nailed near the door,
the little anteroom heated his glasses so,
with shaking hands so wet and cold,
he cleared them carefully to behold
that pine again,
the woolen blankets again,
still set along the inner far walls and,
next to the desk,
the pen again
holding court with bristling blank pages
and soon, words which would fall tonight faster
than the tears on his gratified face
and thawed out heart could travel
with imagined joy.


They cracked their dried eyes open & ringed in together,
gathered tightly to face the dusty swarm…

Metal               Screeches        Whizzes           Bangs
Metal               Smoke             Fire                 Screams

Every touch from the heat nearby
is white & driven down to the bone.

Fear arrives faster than sounds. Death is common
& has its own smell.

The deserts have no secrets.
The soldiers need none, nor look.
Orphans taste dirt & plan for years of anger.

Soldiers come.
Soldiers go home.
Soldiers come back.

“Do they hate us that much?”
“You have no idea.”

Metal               Screeches        Whizzes           Bangs
Metal               Smoke             Fire                 Screams

Mountains shade. Trucks crawl through spaces between hills
donkeys have left their shit on since Alexander.

Soldiers in brown.
Soldiers in gray.
Soldiers from nearby.

The dust tastes the same-
bitterness & death
sleep in tents with the other parents,
their eyes stoned silent with fear.

Metal               Screeches        Whizzes           Bangs
Metal               Smoke             Fire                 Screams

No one will ever forget.


Say what you will
with the words you have
not the words you know.

It is a maple truth, yes,
syrupy & thickly sweet,
rich in intake and quick in passing.

Outside, a massive full moon
is dangling over the street
in mocking pretense, unbidden.

Inside, the heat is on too high,
the lights dimmed lower than need be,
& the food, feet, & fart smells of the house say home.



It appears you miss the point, boys,
Pound made it better,
not that Eliot never wrote better
(he did)
Or that Pound was the better poet
(he was?)
But that our Muse usually sleeps late
And wakes in fits and starts
unless we brush the hair from her
sleep-crimsoned face
& reveal the old feeling
(with appropriate cariño, of course)
we once saw before
the folds of skin on her arms
& and the spotted reds & browns on her
once creamy white skin
Spackled her under the hot sun.
She needs to be awakened with more gentility, perhaps.
We all need help to rise to Heaven
(& Heaven is silent like the Moon is bright)
(& we are the only sound up there we´ll ever hear)
In the ever growing stretches of evil Time
the weight of our gift is shed
if it is not fed, cultured or aided
by the raspy hands
of our surgical mentors.
Employ then generously,
give them wine
& bake the bread, serving it warm, with soup later.
Ask them after, if they want another
cup of coffee
(they will).
Then reach for the stars & thank them
for the midwife skills needed
to birth our singing Nebulae,
our sacrificial offerings,
our passionate flames.

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