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By Victor Hernández Cruz

Two guitars were left in a room all alone

They sat on different corners of the parlor

In this solitude they started talking to each other

My strings are tight and full of tears

The man who plays me has no heart

I have seen it leave out of his mouth

I have seen it melt out of his eyes

It dives into the pores of the earth

When they squeeze me tight I bring

Down the angels who live off the chorus

The trios singing loosen organs

With melodious screwdrivers

Sentiment comes off the hinges

Because a song is a mountain put into

Words and landscape is the feeling that

Enters something so big in the harmony

We are always in danger of blowing up

With passion

The other guitar:

In 1944 New York

When the Trio Los Panchos started

With Mexican & Puerto Rican birds

I am the one that one of them held

Tight    like a woman

Their throats gardenia gardens

An airport for dreams

I’ve been in theaters and cabarets

I played in an apartment on 102nd street

After a baptism pregnant with women

The men flirted and were offered

Chicken soup

Echoes came out of hallways as if from caves

Someone is opening the door now

The two guitars hushed and there was a

Resonance in the air like what is left by

The last chord of a bolero.


Victor Hernández Cruz, "Two Guitars" from Maraca: New and Selected Poems, 1965-2000. Copyright © 2001 by Victor Hernández Cruz. Reprinted with the permission of Coffee House Press. www.coffeehousepress.org.

Source: Maraca: New and Selected Poems 1965-2000 (Coffee House Press, 2001)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Nature
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Victor Hernández Cruz
Victor Hernandez Cruz was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. He moved to New York City with his family when he was five years old, but he didn’t start learning English until two years later when his family bought a television set. He started writing poetry early and at seventeen self-published his first book, Papo Got His Gun! And Other Poems, on a mimeograph machine. Cruz writes from the observation point of traveler and city dweller; he is fluent in Spanish and English, and the poems reveal his familiarity with music, New York, California, the Caribbean, Puerto Rican history, and the immigrant experience. He is also one of the founders of the Before Columbus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the recognition of multicultural writers.

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