Monthly Archives: September 2016

Diary: El Cajón de Grecia, September 2016

Most every afternoon this month has seen a period of heavy rains and electrical storms, as is normal for September. Mornings are always sunny and warm, and the rain is nice too.






all else

An Emerald toucanet banged his (or her) head into the casita window one morning. After a half-hour or so recovering its senses, it finally flew off not too much the worse for the experience.



I’ve mostly been working on translations of Rosibel Morera’s poetry this month, from her book I Only Know Songs of My Lovers. Here are a couple of samples:

No Querría Otra Cosa Que Contigo

cómplice de tus ramas, de la flor
que majestuosamente llevas

orgullo de tus decires, de tu risa
y de la seriedad con que ceñudamente
sabes, adivinas, vuelas

no querría otra cosa que contigo
abierta de tanto pétalo
con que lanzo al aire
tu perfume ligado con el mío.

I Would Not Want But To Be With You

accomplice of your limbs, of the flower
that you majestically take

proud of your talk, of your laugh
and of the tact when I’m frowning
you heed, foresee, flee

I would not want but to be with you
blithe the petal
with which I waft to the wind
your perfume mingled with mine.

Nocturno Marino



cuerpo y alma

aceleran sus pulsos

sus cumbres derretidas

como un distenderse del abrazo

en un único punto la redondez se cumple

carabelas nocturnas donde navego acostumbrada
[al esfuerzo
al pináculo de la ola que se encumbra,
se encrespa habla con la pasión de la marea
y te pide venir lanzarte a la escapada
de las aguas espumosas.

Marine nocturne



body and soul

impel their pulses

their peaks softened

like an easing of embrace

then at that moment the turgor is spent

night caravels where I’m disposed to sail
[to the power
at the pinnacle of the wave that rises,
curls, calls with the passion of the tide
and asks you to come, to throw yourself
to the rush of the frothy waters.

One more of my poems, this one about our little school at the end of the road.

Escuela Altos de Cajón
September 15, 2016

El día de la independencia
early in the morning
people mass
start at the school
hike a kilometer up hill
to the end of paved road

then begin again
march back down
young children in uniform
loudspeaker blasting
the back of a hatchback
on the left little girls
boys on the right
and behind seven girls
choreograph dancing
dresses layered in colors
hair done up braids
teachers and directora
keeping all in order

young mothers stroll along
laughing and chatting
neighbors the elders
line porch and lawn
along the street
watching parade
of friends and family

arriving at school
break for lunch room
women serve lunch
plates at long tables
Thursday chop suey
when done the kids
carry plates to the counter
neatly scrap and stack

one last performance
dance troupe in courtyard
then all go home
well before the rains.

Diary: El Cajón de Grecia, Costa Rica, August 2016

At the end of August the height of the rainy season sets in, with cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and regular afternoon aguaceros. Nice for the plants, and for humans, too – just need to get outside chores and errands wrapped up in the morning.

I have four new poems for August, but what has really captured my interest lately is the poetry of the Costa Rican writer Rosibel Morera. I’m so caught up in her work that I’ve set out to translate her book of poems, Yo sólo sé decirme a los amantes (I can only reveal myself to my lovers). A few examples of her work, in Spanish followed by my translation:

Impúdico viento

se asoma
con su cincel de verolís emplumado
porque no se contiene
y se distiende
se derrama al roce amador el inpúdico viento
que no conoce límite
que no conoce traba
superficie blanda
o rama.

Wanton wind

It emerges
with its chisel of feathery cane flower
because it cannot contain itself
and engorged
the wanton wind whelms the caressed lover
knowing no limit
knowing no restraint
soft surface
or bough.


reflejada y creciente
y lumbre
de los espacios plateados
llama derramada
su leche sobre el valle
difuminada humareda nocturna.


reflected and waxing
and light
of the silvered spaces
prodigal flame
its whitewash over the valley
haze of nocturnal smoke.

Prisa de Encontrarnos

Despacio, con prisa de mineral a liquen,
de paso de la piedra a humedad de la hierba
con prisa de paisaje
y de caballo pastando, retozando,
recogiendo en la piel las gotas
caídas a descuido del alba,
te desnudó el velo de la niebla
que huía a las primeras alarmas.

Que desde antes velabas
– apuro del encuentro –
saltaste de pez a ave
apenas otorgados los permisos
apenas autorizada el alba.

Y pasamos, con el telón de la aurora pasamos
deprisa para el abrazo, buscándonos,
anhelando desde la nostalgia, desde la palidez
y el desmayo de la separación nocturna.

A toda prisa con las primeras luces.
La última luciérnaga del aire avivó
el velamen izado del corazón en guardia.

De pez a ave el amor autorizó los permisos.
Cascarón del alma, vestido,
piedra escogimos para que nada nos mueva.
Ninguna fuerza rotunda desatada nos separe.

Piedra escogimos, cascarón calcáreo.
Desde lejos, una sola nube irisada en el paisaje.

Urgency of Meeting

Slowly, with the urgency of mineral to lichen,
of passage of stone to moisture of the grass
with the urgency of the countryside
and of a horse grazing, frisking,
collecting on its skin the drops of dew
spilled by the dawn,
the veil of the fog undressed you
shying at the first trepidations.

Because of times past you were wary
– meeting again awkward –
you jumped from fish to bird
barely granting consent
barely agreeing to the dawn.

And we met, with the auroral curtain we met
a quick hug, probing each other,
craving from nostalgia, from the pallor
and the swoon of the long night of separation.

As quickly as possible with the first light.
The last firefly of the air aroused
the hoisted sail of vigilant heart.

From fish to bird, love granted permission.
Shell of the soul, garment,
stone we chose so nothing might disturb us.
No power, brute, unleashed, could uncouple us.

Stone we chose, calcareous shell.
In the distance, a lone iridescent cloud in the landscape.

Mordera’s book contains so many more great poems, I could go on and on. But enough for today. I’ll end with one of my new poems, which commemorates one of the month’s most significant events.

Costa Rica honeymoon

Once again to wed
many years shared bed.

The women’s idea
making death simpler
local license and will
girls all atwitter
all dressed up.

Jane and Greg host
their place up at Richard’s
veranda overlooking
green Valle Central
good fortune no rain.

Lawyer three times varies
vows all repeating
hands touching hands
eyes locked to eyes
moisture glistening.

Second time knowing
real from not
unlike the unseasoned
unable to foresee
the selves to unfold.

Each couple in turn
affirm one more time
and sign their names
to record in a ledger
two witness attested.

Bubbly poured
all toast each other
a long happy life
marital bliss
what time remaining.

At Casa Miguel’s
regroup wedding dinner
long table outside
sheltered from rain
drinks and steaks.

Goodbyes said early
as is the wont
old gringos in tropics
each couple off
Costa Rica honeymoon.

Maybe one more, for good measure:


rain season
drown drown
all other sound