31 days of songpoems

*It’s my father’s 84th birthday today. Can you imagine? 1937. 

I call him and wish him a happy day and he informs me that he was born the same day as José Martí. “The Cuban revolutionary,” he says. We hang up after a few awkward moments. He talks about God without fail, and at this age I let him, and remember that I want to forgive him for everything that hurt me—he was only mimicking. He didn’t know how to love, and I’m learning how to. He loved some things though. He loved music. He was a fantastic dancer up until his early 70’s. A tango teacher, a carney, a cabana boy, a construction worker, a bus driver—I saw him only in the latter, but music—MUSIC was always around. Leo Dan will forever remind me of my father. Especially, “Como the extraño mi amor.” This song I remember being played in El Salvador and in the condo during hot summer nights. A faint sound from an old radio—the chatter of neighbors—cars swishing by. Time isn’t real, is it?


Life comes, 

and we stay breathing 

a game of not wanting to rest—

the years change us, 

but only in the face 

dreams don’t stay, 

only when we get to bed 

the chest—full of songs, 

withers incessantly.

memories are relics in the hands 

legs that went without rest 
now seek refuge, 

now what matters 

are the memories 

and how to turn them 

into something worth the wait