Poetry: Luisa Caycedo-Kimura

Luisa Caycedo-Kimura (Poetry 2013), a poet and translator, was the 2014 John K. Walsh Residency Fellow at the Anderson Center at Tower View, the 2014 Adrienne Reiner Hochstadt Fellow at Ragdale, and a 2013 Robert Pinsky Global Fellow. She has been widely published and is currently finishing her first full-length poetry collection. 



The guitars finally hushed their trebled
chords over the sand. Accordions rested
their bellows. Even the twelve-year-old
boys stored away their peddler chants
two hours ago:

Fruta fresca, aguardiente, ron.
Señor, les canto un vallenato?

Only wind and breakers serenade
wooden shutters that chatter
behind white balconies
and the stupor of half-naked bodies.

Parranda santa, the locals call it. A week
not quite holy, miles from cloud covered
processions of

Ave Maria, gloria al padre, padre nuestro…

On the beach, embers of last night’s
bonfire doze, outshined by morning
heat. Palms awaken in lazy sweat.

An emptied rum bottle exhumed by the tide.
A gray body entangled in barnacles and seaweed.

Repentant men climb up the mountain
on their knees, leaving behind shreds of sin
for hungry ocelots. The most penitent
husbands get nailed to a cross.
Grandmothers wail.

Ruega por nosotros…

“Cartegena Sunrise — April 2009” was originally published in San Pedro River Review.



Lemons are yellow and round today. Not oval
like the rants that screw our minds
to surface in jealous rages. In Colombia
all were limones—yellow or green.

I tell my mother “amarillo, a…ma…ri..llo”
Hold a lemon to her nose. “I changed
your diaper,” she reminds me.
I sing until she falls asleep.

When Mamá could walk, my husband
asked, Señora,
how do you say peppers in Spanish?
“Peppers!” she said. The accent
of a woman in two countries.

The hottest peppers are female,
more vibrant than hibiscus pink,
or purple orchids.
The surrounding ferns are green.

“Peppers?” he asks today. The nursing home’s
age dust or the mistaken lime
of disinfectants makes Mamá sneeze. Her hands
twist on her lap—vines past season.

He places then withdraws his hand from hers,
like a teenager in a movie theater. With lips
folded inward she stares at her plate.

“Lemons and Peppers” was originally published in Crack the Spine.