RIP Julian Bond: “Habana”



In memory of Julian Bond, who died on August 18, 2015 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida (who knew?! A place I visited not infrequently), famous for his work in behalf of Civil Rights and justice, and to that end, as co-founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center, not to mention as president of the NAACP and serving for 20 years on the Georgia State Legislature…here we remind the world of his other title, poet, with this now-timely remembrance of his youthful visits to Cuba:


(According to Bond, this poem was based on conversations he had during his first trip to Cuba as a nineteen-year-old college student at Morehouse, soon after the Cuban Revolution.)

Soldiers fuzz the city in khaki confusion
Pincushioned with weapons
Seedy orange venders squeeze among the pulpy masses
Camera pregnant tourists click down the Prado
Lotería salesmen tear along the dotted line
Guitars pluck loafers into corner bars
Uniformed schoolgirls genuflect languorously
Climactic roaming rainbow dresses cling slowly
Punctuating neon orgasms in the mambo night
And above Fidel’s sandpaper voice,
“You want a girl, maybe?”

Poem Published in Comstock Review!!!


A poem of mine has been published in the illustrious Comstock Review!! It is a print journal, which you can subscribe to here, with truly excellent poetry. My poem, “Lawnmowing in America,” is written using only the letters in the title, with the additional limitation of not using any letter in a single word more times than it is used in the title, an oulipo-type poem with my own additional restrictions, which I call “strangled alphabet.” The latter description is not mentioned, however, in the magazine, meaning the poem stands on its own merit, not as a mere exercise in linguistic finesse. Sometimes I need restrictions to get my mind to emerge from its box.