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  • Poetry by Elis Juliana
  • Elis Juliana (bio)

Bola [Crystal Ball]

Den mi bola di kristal In that crystal ball of mine
mi ta mira den futuro. I see the things in store for me.
Den mi orea sapu ta yora The toad is singing in my ears
un kantika di mizeria. a song of troubling misery.
Mi ta mira mi próhimo I see my neighbor
disfrasá na eskeleto in a frame disguised
lorá den klechi di papel wrapped in a blanket of paper
ta kana tene muraya. groping along the wall.
Mi ta mira un pareha I see a pair of lovers
ta gatia subi trapï Kranshi. creeping up the stairs to Town Hall.
Madrina a keda ‘bou ta pela The maid-of-honor remains below
kabaron di awa dushi. peeling fresh water shrimps.
Mi ta mira un entiero. I see a funeral.
Kuater homber ku machete Four men with choppers
ta karga morto di moral bearing the corpse of morality
lorá den blachi’ ramakoko. wrapped in palm fronds.
Mi ta mira kakalaka sali I see the roaches emerge
fo ‘i pipanan frusá di Isla. from SHELL’s rusty pipes.
Un imáhen kibrá ta parti A broken image handing out
komunion pa totolika. communion to patient ground doves.
I den fondo leu ayá And in the distance far away
lamá di dignidat a seka. the sea of dignity has run dry.
Nos ta hunga ‘tapa kara’ We play together blindman’s buff
hasi bergwensa ta pa Dios. and pass the shame onto the Lord.

[End Page 576]

Bekita dams a kanga shimis Lady Bekita lifted up her skirt
pronka drenta sal’i balia And stalked into the ballroom
k’un finura k’un koketa With a smile, with coquetry
kada paso na su tempu With calculated steps
kada zoya na midí And complete body control
Békitá! Békitá! Bekita, Bekita,
Békitá! Békitá! Bekita, Bekita.
Hernan dí: E dams akí The gentlemen said:
ai ta flor pa hasi bunita; This lady is just a pretty flower
yena sala ku pèrfume filling the room with its perfume
hari saka djent’i oro smiling and showing her golden teeth
zoya renchi di makurá And swinging her red coral earrings
Békitá! Békitá! Bekita, Bekita,
Békitá! Békitá! Bekita, Bekita.
Ma or’un pachi prufiá But when a gutsy old man
a bai lamantá Bekita Dared to invite Bekita
pa é tuma’den k’e tumba To join him in the tumba,
el a keda babuká He was flabbergasted
kon e mosa tantu lesma That such a delicate lady
por a para serená Could sway her hips in total abandon:
Békitá Békitá Bekita, Bekita,
pa kén b’a mirá For whom did you take
Békitá Békitá Bekita, Bekita
pa kén b’a tumá Who did you think she was
Békitá Békitá Bekita, Bekita
Békitá Békitá Bekita, Bekita
[Papiamentu] Bekita, Bekita


1. Kolokólo di mi wea (Curaçao: Scherpenheuvel, 1977), 6.

2. Bekita is the pet name of a young Jewish woman Rebecca. Although forbidden by her own social circle, Bekita slips away to join a tumba-party, which is primarily an Afro-Antillean cultural phenomenon. This Jewish woman stupefies everyone present by dancing the tumba just like any black woman would, by which she actually becomes a symbol of “creolization.” In Papiamentu, the poem has the rhythm of a Tumba (translator’s note).

Elis Juliana

Elis Juliana has contributed much to the discovery and development of Papiamentu as a literary language. A prolific writer and artist, his books of poems are POI I, POI II, and POI III. He lives in Curaçao.


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pp. 576-577
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