Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Candles” by Efren L. Cruzada. Mr. Cruzada’s work has appeared in The West 4th Street Review and Headless. He studied at New York University and currently resides in Queens, New York.
Efren L. Cruzada
My being, you crackle, flickering somnolently
I, the poet, drowsy and drunk, edging oblivion
As if, hours after a heroin binge, lounging and limp
Enjoying the lethal poison through my veins
I inhale the accursed vapors of rancid opiates
Ambulating, my footsteps pave the streets
Autumnal winds caressing my flesh, a vessel
For the one true infinite, spurred by gusts
Spirit that stirs the air, spreading over the world
Body with breeze, skin with Zephyrus
And you, my soul, a firecracker, edging oblivion
Sizzling lamps I walk past, a tango of constellations
Faint boleros are heard among the scrambling cars
Subtle conductor weaving the rhythm of headlights
My spirit, an ethereal ember that ignites all things
And I, the poet, drowsy and drunk, edging oblivion
Nourished by beer, steeped in memory’s fog
City blurring my vision, senses idiotic
Aimless, full of fury, calmed by verses
Soothing candles, flickering rhymes
Poet’s Notes: I wrote this poem after months of not writing anything at all. I was in a state of malaise and could hardly see a way out of the passionless purgatory. I still read poetry, although it was more out of habit than genuine excitement and pleasure. But I decided to visit the library, searching with focus and intensity to see if I could jolt my physiology into inspiration. There, I picked out translations of poetry from Vietnam, China, Japan, and Korea.
I had read translations of poets from these languages before, but I read them with a different eye during that time, floored by the beauty of their subtle images and their focus on nature. What struck me the most, however, was reading more closely into poems by Kenji Miyazawa, probably the most unique poet of the 20th century, the Japanese Gerard Manley Hopkins (in terms of uniqueness of style) during modernism. Compared to other Japanese poets, he was startlingly daring, blending both Western modernist experimentation with the usual spiritualism of Asian poets.
Inspired, I wanted to write a poem that was worthy of Miyazawa. I stayed up all night, rearranging words and images in hopes that I could match his incredible sublimity. The original version of the poem was a total failure. After such a surge of inspiration, I was incredibly sad I couldn’t actualize my vision. But in the process, I regained my passion and wrote poetry like a man possessed. I revisited the poem several times until this current version came about. If Miyazawa’s spirit ever finds a way to read this poem, I hope that he would find it worthy.
Editor’s Note: This poem just missed the cut for the 2015 Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest finals, so I am most pleased to have this opportunity to feature it in the Review. I was reminded of Allen Ginsberg somehow--and there is a dreamlike quality to the tone that is soothing, and yet there is an edge to the words as well.