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Manoa 13.2 (2001) 35-37

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Two Poems

Bill Tremblay

Leon's Love Letter to Frida

When I saw you against the sky climbing
the Sun Temple in the City of the Gods I
glimpsed your divinity Perhaps it is Mexico,
perhaps the heat that invades my brain as
the shimmering air invades the earth through
the walls of your Blue House where I live
like a man obsessed with the belief that you
could restore me I know it's no way to woo a
woman to speak of loving another years
ago, yet no woman since Alexandra has
stirred my heart with such tender passion
We were young revolutionaries exiled to
Ust-Kut, living in a hut between the forest
and the Lena River At night when we
looked at one another with love eyes first
we had to shut out the screams of drunks
from the saloon next door, then pinch
the light from our candle to lie in the dark,
bedeviled by cockroaches crawling over
our naked bodies alone in the vast Siberian
            Together we made two
little girls--one who coughed her life out
years ago, one who took her life it seems
only yesterday rather than face Stalin's
dungeons--and we stayed sane because we were
young and read Marx to each other during those
fifty below zero nights and because we dreamed
of escape to London to join Lenin, to write
for the Bolshevik newspaper, Iskra, which
means "the spark" in English, the language I [End Page 35]
must use here She sent me away when my
chance came "You must," she whispered
as we held each other one last time Yet
I remember her eyes with such regret I don't
want to make that mistake again, Frida
           My marriage to Natalia is . . . how
shall I say . . . We have nothing left between us
but our sons Not a word passes In public she
pushes me to keep the faith with the myth of "the
Opposition" How crazy I must sound, weighing
a life of struggle against the slim chance of
finding happiness with you Don't think I
haven't heard you say, "I tire of el viejo,"
I have enough Spanish for that It's the truth
I am sixty years old, and you but half my age
I know it's not wise to complain of one's empty
marriage So bourgeois I shake with shame
If you reject me again I will tell myself that
as I love you I should leave you alone People
close to me turn up dead
           Yet I find myself sitting here, melting
in this August afternoon in the invisible ink
of my sweat, writing words utterly alien to me,
words about your lush garden as the future I
once imagined Before me lies the bright green
strip of grass beneath your wall, the clear
blue sky above, and sunlight everywhere Life
is beautiful the next generation will cleanse
it of evil I feel as if I have died already,
as if I have already given my life to my ideals,
and the fires of my October have spent them-
selves in ash Yet with the last ember of my
soul I dream of you and me on the coast
near Tehuantepec, you painting, I writing, both
of us at last finding the peace we need to create
Am I mad If so, I go on embracing this dream
of embracing you till death and the tides cease [End Page 36]

The Music While the Music Lasts

Seventeen wandering drunk Greenwich
Village strip joint ga-ga at this boa
constrictor worming its way into a
nearly naked woman's G-string onstage.
A B-girl grabbed my ass I thought it was
me, you know, the girl couldn't help
herself and the world was about me So
later when I fell by the Vanguard this
trumpet player was slow bluesing like
"be-bop," he was saying, minimally,
"be-bop," then chording up, "be-bop,"
then down, "be-bop" with a sad albeit
gold horn I snapped my fingers at the...


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