Selected poems from 'Tabular Rasa' by Jeff Raheb

  • Havana      
  • Paro Dzhong - Bhutan      
  • Dal Lake - Kashmir      
  • Bamboo      
  • The Center      
  • I Pour You A Cup Of Tea      
  • For The Women Of Bosnia      
  • You Say It Is Raining      
  • Zimbabwe      
  • The Comet      
  • Pygmalion      
  • Ganges      
  • Nasca - Peru      
  • Zu Twa Szi      
  • Body Rain      
  • The Shadow Puppet (Jogjakarta )                      
  • Songkla - Thailand      
  • 5 Haikus
  • Havana

    Havana, I arrive
    in the sweaty thickness of July
    caliente y picante
    steamy sidewalks, steamy women
    chocolate brown, tan and
    black against the lemon-yellow walls
    strolling through La Plaza de Armas
    slurping thick café through weathered lips
    in La Plaza de Francisco de Asis
    dancing on the pregnant gray stones in La Plaza Vieja
    timba, rumba, salsa and son
    Cristo, Maria, Yemaya and Obatalá

    Havana, I arrive
    in the intoxication of your breath
    between the acrid fumes
    of insecticides and 1957 Chevy's
    stepping past the dark grime of your slums
    streets plush with tight round bodies
    beautiful and sensuously swaying

    I arrive snaking past the converted palaces
    con las turistas ricos
    and the buy-me-a-dress-and-a-ring whores
    with their enchanting full-tooth smiles
    and undulating earthquake-tremor hips
    I hear your beat
    the machine-gun laughter of your feet
    on the hot cobblestones
    with the jinateros and street musicians
    Havana, I smell your heat
    under salty faded sheets
    smell the long, tobacco-stained nights
    with your hips swaying
    to the pale drops of rum
    spilt from red lips
    and the red drops of blood
    spilt from your revolutionaries
    spilt from the gorging of Machado and Baptista
    and 500 years of foreign dominion

    In Paseo de Marti
    banners of Che Guevara
    flapping in the moist tear-laden breeze
    Fidel, cigar in hand
    tirelessly raging in black and white
    on a Russian 1960's TV

    Cuba, I can see the green in your eyes
    the peeling-paint bedroom dreams and
    dirt-poor joy of your richness
    laughing out the despair and desperation
    dancing out the oppression and the paucity
    the aching of your past
    the battles of Castillo De Los Tres Santos
    of the revolution
    of living
    and as I stand on the steps of El Capitolio
    looking out at the decaying grandeur
    I understand why
    I will be back

    Copyright 2004 Jeff Raheb