Thursday, 13 May 2021

Four Sublime Poems by Lorraine Caputo




There it looms before me, hard &

worn, not to be budged … but still

I pound upon it, blood seeping from

my bruised hands, the echoes filling this

dark hallway … through a crack beneath the

door shines a light … I want, I

need to reach it … I pound … creak





He wanders from door to

door locked against the

forlorn streets, shouting

at the sleepers within


            Give me an egg!


He leans upon the closed

wrought-iron gates &

he mumbles to some

invisible comrade


            I am a witch

            I am a shark, a

            mico monkey


            Give me an egg!




 Étude Nº 13


Samhain midnight, I fall asleep,     

my future spread out before me.


& a while later I awaken, my moon

flowing with the rain along the

clay roof tiles.



Morning, the clouds shower & dry      

& float away …

Heat blazes the afternoon.


& the sun sets in pallid ochres, orchids, peaches.

It streaks the ragged nebulous remnants.

Faint stars appear in the deepening dusk sky.



Across the All-Saints-Day night tejas,

the cats stroll on silent paw.

Across the blue-grey city night, shuffles,

waxes  the white moon above.


My moon wanes bright red.



All Souls Day … Day of the Dead

The cloudy dawn rumbles & the soft rain washes the empty streets.

Fallen white tree flowers die on the green grass of the Plaza.

Their damp fragrance wafts through the vacant air.


The droplets splatter on the clay roofs.

They dance on the heart-shaped leaves of the

chapata trees, the bronze-green ones of avocadoes.

The rain’s whispered song is carried on

the gentle southern breeze.



In the evening, from below, a soft song

of a young man fingering his charango.



This night a friend visits me again in my dreams.

I ask her, What are you doing here

not wanting to say because you’re dead.

With her crooked smile, she responds,

To see what you’re up to …



In an aquarelle blur, these days wax with

rain & clouds in morning, they wane with

humid  sun most afternoons.



Again this evening, from below, that young

man’s soft charango song.

I drift away on his melody.


& awaken at three. The silvery full moon

shines bright behind the patchy clouds

drifting, this time, from the north.



The dawn approaches, bringing

a showerless dawn.


& my moon continues to wane,

continues to flow deep red

in drought.




—On the Pacific coast of Mexico is a beach called Zipolite, which in Zapoteca means "The Place of the Dead"                                                                   

I was sitting
         looking over a bay
I was watching
      the riptides
            pulling long
                       wide bands of
                                    brown sand
                  far into the ocean
                        reaching towards the horizon
I was thinking
      This is
                  The Place of the Dead
      Someone will
                  die here

Some men were on the rocks below. 

     One swam away from there.

     A rip caught him from below.

From below I heard the shouts: 

«Cordo, cordo»  «Rope, rope»

I heard the man’s voice yelling for help,

         rising with the surf.

Into the surf another man threw the rope.

     But on the ever-changing tides, 

              the ever-changing currents,

                  the drowning man, 

                        drowning in that bay, drifted away.

His face lay into the water.

              Into the water a group ran,

                      watching his humped body

                                   drifting towards them,

                                   towards the village,

                                   towards the beach. 

One man, bare, attached to a rope, 

              swam towards him, then stopped. 

His friends, pointing, yelled,

      there, over there»
The naked man was dragged ashore
      A woman
            began pumping
                        on his chest
      A man
            pushed her aside
            pushed on his chest
      Another tried
            to breathe air
                  into the lungs
            But all that exhaled
                  was salt water
                         salt water
                         bitter water
I put my fingers
      in the folds of his brown skin
            feeling for his femoral
                              a pulse
His penis
      was shrunk into him
At times
      I thought
            I felt a pulse . . .
                  ¿Was it his?
                  ¿Or was it mine?
                  ¿Or was it
                        the push/push/push
                              on his chest?

His friend
      ran to him
      knelt beside his face
            plastered with wild black hair
            spewing between his bluing lips
      called into his now-pasty-white ears
Someone led him away

Push Push Push
      Roll him over
            Push more water out
Push Push Blow
¿A pulse?
      ¿Whose pulse?
            ¿Or only a wish?
Push Push Push
      Another woman held his wrist
            feeling for a pulse
            watching his fingertips blue
Push Push Blow

The minutes stretched
      towards the horizon
            made room for fresh hands
                                      fresh mouths
Push Push Push
Push Push Blow
The minutes
      the minutes . . .
A change again

I reached for his carotid
      feeling a faint pulse
            in the hollow
                  of his chin/neck
This was no push
      ¿Was it mine then?
            I asked someone
                  to feel—
                        Yes—a pulse . . .
Push Push Push
They worked with new hope
Push Push Blow

The water washed ashore nearer
The minutes continued
      to wash away with each
            pull of the tide
Push Push Push
Push Push Blow

Finally the pulse
      faded into the
            crushing surf
Hope was
      pulled away by the
            ripping tides

I walked away
      leaving the now-dead body
            to be covered by
                  blue towels
            to be watched over by
                  two soldiers with rifles
            to be claimed by
                  this Place of the Dead

My eyes
      watched the water
            churn & rip
                  around the rocks
My mind
      watched the shadows
                        of this morning’s dream
            churn & rip
                  at my memory . . .
      All I can remember
            is the awakening thought:
                  It was a dream of death . . .

Lorraine Caputo is a wandering troubadour – and a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 200 journals on six continents, such as Prairie Schooner (US), Revista Máquina Combinatoria (Ecuador), bones (Denmark), Open Road Review (India), Cordite Poetry Review (Australia) and The Ducor Review (Liberia); and 18 collections – including Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017), On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also pens travel pieces, with narratives appearing in the anthologies Drive: Women's True Stories from the Open Road (Seal Press, 2002) and Far Flung and Foreign (Lowestoft Chronicle Press, 2012), and travel articles and guidebooks. In 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful knapsack Rocinante, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her adventures at and 




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