Urgent Poems for a Humanitarian Crisis

Urgent Poems for a Humanitarian Crisis


Elon Musk says that, if given the green light, he can power Puerto Rico.

-Headline on Market Watch, October 6, 2017.

you have the green light

the blue light

the moonlight

our sunlight

my flashlight

my Medalla Light

and that’s not to be taken lightly

matter and decay

the charred silhouetted bones
of trees spread against the dark

the shrouds the night like a FEMA

plastic sheeting cover suffocating

the agonies of earth

a voice on my portable radio summons

my silence ribboned with 170 mph gusts

of wind that dissemble the irony of breath

with people looking for other people,

a woman sheltered herself

with forty goats, two ghosts

and a saltine-cracker tin, she said

we are all missing here

the flood dragged a man

who, trying to save a chicken,

drowned stuck to his home’s cyclone

fence lungs filled with dark

water, he met a destiny reserved

for those who float on the futility

of saving someone else’s meal

two houses down,

the golden tenants at a nursing home,

heavy with memories and fear

and determined to live longer,

carried their meds and walking carts

into the roof to watch how an unburied

half of a split cistern tank sailed

right to them, a vessel sent by God

or god

or chance

or both

the seniors jumped into the plastic

barge and sailed away towards the end

of the street where the land awaited

and life prolonged like words on an echo


the consequences of matter melt and spill

decay over the ravaged land- I milk

the darkness that swamps that old world

beginning to rot in my lips

desolation like sushi

we sat in eloquent stoicism

to watch the dark- the big dark dome

a half-black moon like a flooded

bay at dusk. relentless, we fished

question marks and the possibility of light

and its menaces. we murdered

the sunset and wondered if thirst

was only objectification by words

turning to sand. we smoked

cigarettes by instinct because we lost

our mouths and eyes and sense of loss

we burped gin and cold rice. we tasted

desolation like sushi. as we watched

the last ice bag melt and return

to the innocence of water. we wandered

without luck or pain but a flat numb misery

and we’ll evaporate before

we find out. we vibrate nervously

and escape. like we always do. we are

fictions by design and tragedy unites us all

with its chronology and the belief

in predicaments. we blow in the spectacle

and sight of a dream. we breathe disruptions

in iconic charges and we flash in

the sky. we’ll upload and post whenever

we eat the flesh of promises and make knives

with their bones. smudged. sprinkled. purified

we consecrate a vision. we watch the dark and play

Héctor Lavoe –Rompe saragüey-. we let it all sink in
Elidio La Torre Lagares
Elidio La Torre Lagares obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas-El Paso. I have published several poetry collections in Spanish, and I am preparing my first English language book of poems, titled Wonderful Wasteland. My poetry in English has appeared in Revista Centro Jornal (City University of New York), Azaleas, Malpaís Review and Sargasso. In Puerto Rico, I have been awarded the Puerto Rico Pen Club Prize for Fiction in 2000, 2001, and 2004. I currently teach literature and creative writing at the University of Puerto Rico. My first novel in English, The Geometry of Loss, has recently been submitted for publication.


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  2. These poems are a meaningful response to a “humanitarian crisis.” We need more such heartfelt responses!

  3. Chocante, le toca el corazon a todo el que deberás ama su patria y nuestra islita que tanto a sufrido biendo sus hijos muriendo a sus pies.

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