Lorna Dee Cervantes


Into your galaxy I fall

Heartfirst, fear akimbo,

Over and over the tumbling falls

Of sensuous rivers inside me.


Take me to your forked places

Where the tongue seeks refuge.

Take me into precious highways where

The macadam vanishes into layers of distance.


Lead me to your past, to your dream

Sequences, to your black holes

Of remembrance. I will mark the trail

With the breadcrumbs of knowledge.


This journey leaves only once. We

Are the destination. Here in this sparkling

Sea of sky, your shimmering eyes

Weave a map of sighs, night whispers.


If I could feel you here: the slow swirl

Of your ticking time, the windy whirl of

Your breath panting above me, I would

Be home, landed. I would plant my flag.


San Francisco streets belong to me,

My placenta in some fish in a fish

In a bigger catch. Here, not sittin’ on

The dock of the Bay. This bay, here, this

Way of loving—this grace: this freedom

From the show of pain or dissatisfaction,

Of hesitation or incongruity. Just you and me,

My Cassady, my daisy behind the inner ear.

Yes! This listening, this indigenous inheritance.

I buy a crystal from the corner seller,

The retired masseuse hippie, we smile

Into another rainbow bridge. Me and Cassady

And the open flower of a book, the open eyes

Of poetry, that tearing on the page. Listen!

A thousand harps in the key of city lights

Chime on a sacred rising. Ten thousand strands

Of beads strung on a prayer. This hand now.

The casual gifting of another meal. I want this

Now. The one last grace. To never fall.

To play this now and do it all. This

Is Beat: The Way. The Way. The Way.

Be an Artist. Do it now.


I want to be the couple

in a starry starry night,

an old fishwife, blood

on her skirt, her husband

under a hat. I want to be

luminous, a single blot

of paint, the canvas of your

eye, a duo on shallow wallow.

I want the arc of moon

in the vacant road, a sudden swath

of carnelian paradise, the layering

of dark upon dusk upon our arrival

of the final departure. I want

the shawl of a couple, nearly

unseen, just serene shadowing.

Let me be in the shining, in the light

of something impasto: memory

into sludge, into the distance


A California native (Chicana-Chumash), born in The Mission, Lorna Dee Cervantes was the former Director of Creative Writing at CU- Boulder where she was a Professor of English for 19 years. Recipient of numerous awards, honors and fellowships including the Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Writers Award, 2 NEA Fellowship Grants for Poetry, 2 Pushcart Prizes (another nominated this year) and “Best Book” awards for Emplumada (’81), From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love nd Hunger(’91), and the 5-volume Drive: The First Quartet(’06) which was nominated for a Pulitzer.

Her new books are Ciento: 100 100-Word Love Poems(’11), Stunned Into Being: Essays on the Poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes (’11), and the forthcoming Sueño: Thirty Something of the Cruelest and a Bit of Grace.

2011-12 UC Regents Lecturer at Berkeley, she is home again in the Bay Area writing fiction, essays, poetry and screenplays. Visit her on her blog.