Thursday, August 20, 2009


Summer Reading, Part 2: Ambroggio and Dixon

Two very different poets in the mix of men of color I happen to be reading this summer. But each political in his particular way.

Melvin Dixon died of AIDS-related illness in 1992, the height of the epidemic. He gave the keynote address at the OutWrite Conference that year, and this is how he finished up:

As for me... I may not be well enough or alive next year to attend the lesbian and gay writers conference, but I'll be somewhere listening for my name.

I may not be around to celebrate with you the publication of gay literary history. But I'll be somewhere listening for my name.
You, then, are charged by the possibility of your good health, by the broadness of your vision, to remember me.

Included in the posthumous collection of poems, Love's Instruments (Tia Chucha Press, 1995).

Here's a poem from the book:

Keeping Time

This night so gently
we circle the clock of streets.
I hear your feet before we meet,
I’ve come empty like this before.
My mouth parched on “hello”
fracturing me inside, my eyes
blurring like seaglass
at other faces you’ve shown.

So come with me again.
What we call ourselves they have
no names for, nor the peeled

fruit offered between us.
And with lips round in even
cadence, we shall recall
this night so gently.

- Melvin Dixon, from Love’s Instruments


And one in Luis Alberto Ambroggio's new Collected, edited by Yvette Neisser Moreno:

U.S. Landscapes

If each brick could speak;
if each bridge could speak;
if the parks, plants, flowers could speak;
if each piece of pavement could speak,
they would speak Spanish.

If the towers, roofs,
air conditioners could speak;
if the churches, airports, factories could speak,
they would speak Spanish.

If the toils could bloom with a name,
they would be called González, Garcia, Rodriguez or Peña.

But they cannot speak.
They are hands, works, scars,
that for now keep silent.

- Luis Alberto Ambroggio, translated by Yvette Neisser Moreno, from Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems, 1987-2006

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