Regalos/Gifts for Miguel Algarín

Lois Elaine Griffith

Lois Elaine Griffith recorded audio narration on June 21, 2022, at the Hemispheric Institute office in New York City.


You're here-

still - todavía -

para siempre you're gone

far away enough to study

close enough for me a recibir

regalos from you

cada día

gifts - still

para siempre

for eyes that see 

to speak

to see.

Un día brillante you walk with me. Qué regalo - the sky turning inside-out to watch us cross the bridge. Y tú - el gran mentiroso - telling me how simple it is.


Teatro de la vida - you say:

Mira! on every corner

around atención

how things talk -

como lo que debe

lo que debió

and you

extraño in the known-land


pero bien conocido


speaking queen's-span-americanish.

You give me más

than what I've been learned

from all the commonwealths -

the wealth that's been given

me also - to seize

like your liking jewelry - to wear.

You wear gold chains all the time. A set of charms hangs from one of them. Finger-tipped size disks imprinted with what appear as Mayan glyphs. Eight or nine pieces of gold dangling from one of the chains. A muffled jingling as they knock together on your chest - when you dance - when you breathe - la energía - congestion sometimes. I put the eucalyptus leaves to boil on the stove - a towel over your head as a tent for keeping the vapor close. The gold around your neck takes the heat. Es muy caliente - you breathe the heat and remember me to remember - also to give to self and let me come at you with love - grown as weapon - dependiendo en ojos y aspiración - weapons of eye contact and sharing breath. Hay en la casa de poetas - la magia in so many lovely colors - to become home - the word - home-word.


You build a home

you take me there chez toi

to learn me your tongue

a lavarme en la saliva

a encubrirme

en lo que ahora es mío.

To fit with adjustment

you say rule with no rule -

y la regla: No one stays overnight in the Cafe

without feet on the ground and music in the head -

pronto - to jump when the night breaks.

I stay overnight in the Cafe. Alone in the silent room - I sleep on the bar - to dream - un sueño de poema - where estamos a la playa de mañana - where I find seaweed to wipe your botsy clean. En sueño - somos cazadores - we hunt for shells - en las calles del mar - conchas de poemas to root stories to regale. We find laughter as we hunt - our footsteps siguen la luz de la mañana.


Tienes la llave

de poemas y amor.

You have a key for opening the door.

You enter with toronjas and Lucky and his hyper-atención. Grapefruits in all hands - like you mugged a fruit-stand. And there's your gangsta-dares-me smile - to eat what's-left-over after Lucky sucks out the juice y para mí what's left. He says: Toma! - to eat what's-left of the fruit - y su esputo. He says: Toma - some good part here. The good part: la que es fibrosa - correosa - difícil de masticar. And only now the gift of lightning-strike - entiendo! Maybe you knew Lucky had no teeth strong enough to chew the pith or guts enough to take it in - after so much time spent with his head in the glue bag. Quizás sabes tú: grapefruit is an indígena Bajan flora - seeds spread from island to island before coming mainland.

Lois Elaine Griffith, extracted from AfroCaribbean-NewYork roots, is an artist/writer/teacher and one of the founders of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.