The Red Muse (& other poems)

by Mary Arda

Images flow
from memory
to fingertip
Enveloped in song
they become
a narrative

I am transported
Carried away
by you
to the stories
of your past
My present

Red lipstick
Crimson half moon nails
Ebony hair shines with the moon
Almond eyes
deep and transparent
My illusion

At 9 o’clock
cannon shots
fill the bay and
conceal the
cries of death
in the night

Royal Palm trees
with their lullaby
gift you
with dreams
of a future
that lives in the past

The drums beat
for me to dance
The waves crash to wash me clean
The muse’s voice
calls me home



Fly across the ocean
Where the deep blue sea
meets transparent aqua-colored waters
When you see it glimmer
Like a million diamonds in the sun
You’ve almost arrived

When you land
you will be greeted by a family of Royal Palm trees
You’ll hear them before you see them
Their fronds will play for you
swaying to the beat of Caribbean breezes
They will line paths
to offer you direction

You’ll come across a long road
lined by a sea wall
Stop and visit
many times
along the way
The peanut vendor will sing for you
The sound of the bata and the conga
will bekcon you to move

Stop and say hello
To the me that’s present
in the children that dive off the wall with expertise
The lovers that embrace
intoxicated by the scent of the ocean
The dancers that take you back to Africa

Follow the sun as it sets
Let it take you down cobblestone streets
To the cool darkness of the forts
The foot of the castle
Cross its moat
Meet Spain

Traverse the streets that carry the
scars of the trolly from yesteryear
Stop and cool off under the shelter
of expansive porches that sit
behind arches of buildings
They wait
for the sound of your footsteps
your voice
your laughter

The barber will point you in my direction
Walk towards the park
You’ll see it
The red Flamboyants and purple Jacarandas
in bloom
let you know you are near

See the wrought iron fence
The terracotta tiles
Smell the cafecito
Hear the laughter
Don’t knock
come in
We’ve been waiting for you


The Children

They didn’t tell the children
The pain was too deep
The loss was too great
The circumstances too harsh for developing minds

They didn’t tell the children
For them, they swallowed the torment
Each of them taking in huge gulps of tragedy
Consuming dread like morsels of lead fishing weights
Sinking to the bottom of their souls

They didn’t have to tell the children
They heard it
in hidden whispers and silent sobs
that came in waves that emanated from broken hearts
They felt it in the absence and not the lies

They didn’t need to tell the children
The children communed with it at night when their souls wandered
They saw the shadows and heard the voices
They bonded with it at night when no one was around
When they told each other they knew

They didn’t save the children
The children saved them