Ambush

Poems by Silvia Curbelo

***Winner of the 2004 Main Street Rag Chapbook Contest***

ISBN 1-930907-62-1
36 pages, $7


Before the Long Silence

 

Some words open dark wings
inside us. They carry us off
in the telling, the air going on
beyond language, beyond breath.

It’s the small moments
that change everything.
On the last night my father
woke from a long, restless sleep
and pointed to a corner
of the room. A bird, he said.


The Visitors

 

They stand without pity or shame
like tourists on the bridge to your next
great sadness. They have been walking
in bad shoes. They want a cold beer.

They’ve come with their one small
suitcase, and night’s implausible
laundry list. It’s late.
They’re tired of being poor.

All day the wind fails them, so does
the sky unloosening its sullen
Esperanto. They know the hard
currency of coffee and cheap cigarettes,

the accidental prayer of rain
on a car roof. Priests of indecision
and poor judgment, they reach into
the ancient dark to pull a coin out of thin air.

Call it a gift, a simple benediction,
as they move tenderly through the door
of your best life, whispering
Take it, it’s yours. Write this down.

—for Ann


In the Land of Missed Chances

 

There was no news
in God’s country. The sun
sank without warning.
Every ship sailed away.

No one sang for her supper
or looked for answers in the stars
or prayed for rain.
No one poured the last wine.
The dispossessed left nothing
in their wake.

There were no telephones
ringing, no music playing.
Nothing bloomed in the yard.
No one was lost or blamed
or left for dead.

There were no crimes to speak of.
The cops found no fresh signs
of struggle, no blood on
the sheets, no lipstick-smeared
cigarettes still smoldering in
ashtrays. No one gave up
the ghost or fell from grace.

Nobody rolled the dice
or held the winning card.
The last of our luck ran out,
swallowed the key
and closed the book.
We didn’t have a prayer.


Silvia Curbelo is the author of two previous collections of poems, The Secret History of Water, available from Anhinga Press, and The Geography of Leaving (Silverfish Review Press). She has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Florida Arts Council and the Cintas Foundation, and the Jessica Nobel Maxwell Memorial Poetry Prize from American Poetry Review. Her poems have been published widely in literary journals and more than two dozen anthologies, including The Body Electric: America’s Best Poetry, Snakebird: Thirty Years of Anhinga Poets, and Norton’s Anthology of Latino Literature. A native of Cuba, Silvia lives in Tampa, Florida, and is managing editor for Organica magazine.