The idea that something called
the greenhouse effect is at work
Enhances when you Caribbean encompose—
Would it get hotter in the valley
of Caguas just for an instant
of thought calderón—
Or southerly more yet Coamo
Where they say it never rains
Even ice in the freezer
Loses its stance.

Is it going to get hotter
Than a mid-October Ponce Afternoon?

Will we reach the point
Where our flesh tenderizes
And slowly cooks in the air—
Will we see our skin
Slide off our bones
As we walk across the plaza
Making a last attempt to
Get to the ice cream vendor—
Before they both melt.



 Pictograph this:
If we awoke one day
Let’s say tomorrow
And all the oceans
Were dried up—
Every last drop
You can go out
And walk on the
Beds of the oceans
Stare out into the
Swirls of new Landscape
The whole visual
For eye and telescope
Binoculars catch
The sight of a trillion
Tons of sea creatures
Doing the jerk—
Octopus and whale
Shark and sardine
Down there sunbathing
Post’d as if in a Fish
Then you’d see that
The Earth is not round,
It is more like clay
Fashioned by Salvador Dalí.



Out of Africa arises a silence
To dance with the sky—
Spinning it makes its music in the air
Follows the route of the drum,
Comes toward the Atlantic—
To drink rum in the tropic islets
To use the bamboo as flute.

Big horizon of space upset,
Traveling through moisture and heat
It has been known to throwstep

Of 200 miles per hour—

And yet a man of the mountains

Observed a miniature orchid

Purple and yellow

Hold on with such a pride

That it withstood the hurricane—

To hang with the Christmas flora,
Months later in our hot winter.

Each hurricane has its name

Its own character—

Hugo was strong and clumsy,

His strokes were like Van Gogh—

Bold and thick.

Pellets that were punches against the doors.

He came in vortex spirals.

Painting the sky of “Starry Night”

Above us.

He was poignant like tropical fruit.

Devouring mangos and guavas at will.

Breadfruit which flavors the tongues of Malaysia,

Enriching the waists of thehula dancers

In the South Pacific whose belly buttons

Hear better than ears.

Breadfruit which fries or boils
Was rolling through the streets
Of small towns surrounded by mountains—
As if Hugo did the favor
Of going shopping for us
​With free delivery.

The Lesser and Greater Antilles like
Keys on a saxophone
An acoustic shoot
Each playing their note.
Did he blow?
A high sea note
Coastal blues.
An air of leaves,
​A percussion of branches
In the melody
The sound of green.

As if an asteroid fell
From the heavens—
Making all the religious
Hallelujah onto their knees
To pray in total fright
​In the face of death,
As if all that church attendance
​Was not enough
To give them the blessings
When finally God sent
An ambassador in the form of a cyclone.

Makes one see that
People act contrary
To the laws of science.

Iris was bitch—
She flirted from 14 ̊ north latitude
To 19˚ north—zigzagging
Lateral west
All that stripteasing
And she didn’t come.
She went north,
Beautiful Iris
With her almond eye—
Full of lusty gusts. 

Marilyn had curves—
A buttocky volition,
An axial memory that went down
To her tail.
At first she was a mere
Gyrating carousel on
The horizon—
On the satellite picture
She looked like a splattered
Sunny-side-up egg.
Her eye small
Like a black frijol
A beany socket,
Searching for the Virgin Islands.

Maelstrom of the sky—
A piranha of Carib moisture,
Calypso in the middle eye—
A vision which also breath.

A hurricane is the heartburn of the sky—
A schizoid space,
A rotating mill of nervous air.
What made it so worried?
How did it become so angry?
The atmosphere sneezes.
God bless you.

A necklace of esmereldas,
The stairway of islands
We are sitting roosters
Waiting to be caressed
Our turquois gown
Ripples in the wind.

Why was it that that Friday eve
When the hurricane was coming in
The beauty parlors were full?
Get dressed, María
Permanent your hair—
Luscious Caribee—
Extra starch
In case I hang my head out
To the breeze tonight.
Sand, palm, white rum
And perfume. A band
Of clouds for white shoes.

The islands look like spinach
That fell into a blender.
Whirlpool dancer
Licking the rim of the sun
Achieving the enlightenment
That comes through motion and moisture.

After Marilyn Saint Thomas
Was like a Jackson Pollock painting—
Telephone lines like a plate of spaghetti.
A canvas of pickup sticks
Covered with random-chance zinc roofsheets
Automatic rhythm art of happens improve—
A colorful square of inspiration.

Saint Croix was in the joy of Kandinsky’s
Lateral strokes pushing the sky
To collapse into molasses.
In the howling screech a thought:
Have the stars been blown away?

Caribbean islands
Sprinkled in the form
Of a crescent moon
Falling into Venezuela,
The land of Simón Bolívar,
The Orinoco
​Currency of our blood.

​A hurricane clears the earth’s
Nasal passages
​A hurricane would do Los Angeles some good—
The winds of Luis
Could have been packaged
In banana leaves,
Its eyeball of great
Cinematropic suggestion
Placed right outside Beverly Hills,
Driving through the freeways
Breaking the speed limit,
A vacuum of 100-mile radius
Dispelling contamination—
The picture in motion.

Tainos knew that palm Bohíos
Were portable homes—
​When the tempest came
​To remove them—
In two days they had them
Back up.

As the wind roars
Like a million ghosts—
Hurakán lingua accents each letter.
Going through in total disrespect
Of industry and technology
And conventional itinerary,
​Things disappear.

Hurricanes go west
Then north to be cool.
A spirit which knocked
Down Antillean coconuts
Could still be breeze
​Cooling tea in Scotland.

My dear Lord—
What passes through
A fruit of passion—
To sniff among the English.

The horizon was a bowl
For Marilyn to make her stew—
Stir in the escabeche
The ocean soup.
Ancient appearance
Would have been
Below in caves.
Subterranean Church
Next to the hidden river Flowing in peace—
Allowing the passage
Of Hurakán—
​Bowing in respect.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Victor Hernandez Cruz. All rights, including electronic, are retained by the author. 

Eco-poems by

Victor hernandez cruz

Victor Hernandez Cruz is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently: In the Shadow of Al-Andalus (Coffee House Press, 2011); The Mountain in the Sea (Coffee House Press, 2006); and Maraca: New and Selected Poems 1965-2000 (Coffee House Press, 2001), which was selected for the shortlist of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the International Griffin Poetry Prize. His earlier works include: Panoramas (Coffee House Press, 1997); Red Beans (Coffee House Press, 1991); and Tropicalization (Reed & Cannon Co,1976). He is also the editor of the anthology Paper Dance: 55 Latino Poets (Persea, 2000). In the citation for the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the judges wrote: "Victor Hernández Cruz has long been the defining poet of that complex bridge between the Latino and mainland cultures of the U.S. Maraca: New and Selected Poems 1965-2000 proves the extraordinary range of this great, enduring poet, whose articulately persuasive humor and intelligence bear persistent witness to a meld of peoples." Cruz is a co-founder of both the East Harlem Gut Theatre in New York and the Before Columbus Foundation and a former editor of Umbra Magazine. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley and San Diego, San Francisco State College, and the University of Michigan. His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2008. [Photo of Victor Hernandez Cruz reading his poetry. (C) 2012 by Nancy Mercado. All rights reserved.]