Skip to main content
By Rafael Campo

To cure myself of wanting Cuban songs,

I wrote a Cuban song about the need

For people to suppress their fantasies,

Especially unhealthy ones. The song

Began by making reference to the sea,

Because the sea is like a need so great

And deep it never can be swallowed. Then

The song explores some common myths

About the Cuban people and their folklore:

The story of a little Carib boy

Mistakenly abandoned to the sea;

The legend of a bird who wanted song

So desperately he gave up flight; a queen

Whose strength was greater than a rival king’s.

The song goes on about morality,

And then there is a line about the sea,

How deep it is, how many creatures need

Its nourishment, how beautiful it is

To need. The song is ending now, because

I cannot bear to hear it any longer.

I call this song of needful love my voice.


Rafael Campo, “My Voice” from What The Body Told, published by Duke University Press. Copyright © 1996 by Rafael Campo. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc.

Source: What The Body Told (Duke University Press, 1996)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Mythology & Folklore
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Rafael Campo
Rafael Campo is a poet and essayist who teaches and practices internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Campo earned a BA and MA from Amherst College and an MD from Harvard Medical School. His primary care practice serves mostly Latinos, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people, and people with HIV infection. He is also on the faculty of Lesley University's Creative Writing MFA Program, and frequently lectures widely and gives seminars and workshops relating to medicine, literary writing, and culture.

More Poems about Arts & Sciences

Browse poems about Arts & Sciences

More Poems about Mythology & Folklore

Browse poems about Mythology & Folklore

More Poems about Nature

Browse poems about Nature