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Cecelia Llompart

 02-09-2017

 
Cecelia Llompart
 
Consider, O Lord, how You sit                      atop the sky; like a man
                                                                                in a glass bottom boat.


                               Consider sky elsewhere; worn thin as a mattress.


          Consider the women, marbling
                                                               in their corners
the men with tongues of bronze; how

                                you tool the silence around them.

Consider the rolling wheel of Spring
                                                    the Summer, a haunt of blue;

                               How the rivers roll up                                 like prayer mats.

Consider my Lover;
                              the yellow church of his skin, the clean
          wells of his ears;

How the notes of a song come to him
                                                               like birds descending
                                           on a power line; How

in his absence                       I am of two throats

                                 each of them cramped.

Consider, O Lover, my throat
                                                     white as cigarette paper.

The crushed lavender of my knuckles.


           My heart, a dulled        needle threaded through
                                                                             too many patterns.

                    Lover, they were stitches of pain
                                                              you undid me of;

          There is blood gone rancid in me                  you can not move.

But how we comb                and comb the night for jewels
                                                                                                 to stack
                                                                         around one another,
                              to cast in the mold of our love.


That dandy, the sky, enters blue-suited
                                                                        sun like a scotch in hand

                                                      as I consider the brevity of a lion;

                     How many flies can touch         at decay.


Consider the road, long
                                          and forked as the Devil's own tongue.

         Consider the Devil, burning                every bridge;
                                                                                                 Placing
in every tree a black

bird.    In every bird a black      thought.

Consider, O Devil, how these thoughts
                                                    will darken the map.

          How the desert ants clean the sand             from their legs.

How the women will cluster;

held together by some vine of gossip, souring like grapes.

Consider Autumn; its many whispered undoings.
                                                                      Its cousin, the Wind,
                                                              agitating all.

And Winter, like the ruin
                                                  of some river.

The clock leaves the wall, lights on
                                                             my shoulder to peck out

the time, and my bones
                                 can trace their longest name to the ground.

 


"Blessed Are The Wingless..." 

Blessed are the wingless, for their bones
are not hollow but heavy with want.

Blessed is whatever flocks homeward,
as well as whatever remains--as I do--

for the winter. Blessed are those who                                        5
shoulder up. Blessed are those who suffer

no fools. Blessed what is in me to tip
the intimate scale of guilt, and blessed

that guilt for it knows no immediate
bounds. For it made me better than I am.                                 10

Blessed is the solemn animal that weighs
every question asked, finally, by the river.

Blessed all the debris that waits inside
of monuments. Blessed is your body,

big enough for the both of us. Blessed                                      15
are my hands for falling upon all which

they do not understand. Blessed is the moon,
bled white, bandaged in silk. Blessed too,

the stars. For it is with the mercy of carrion
birds that they dip their fingers in silver

and pick her carcass clean. Blessed is the sea,                            20
graveyard of time. Blessed are the black waves

that congregate like mourners. Blessed are those
who have done their weeping, and are quieter now.


The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, Who art in the gleam of polished silverware.
In the indigo smudge exposed, between layers of dust,
when we swipe a gloved finger across the sky. In pupils
as they widen. In the blood and breezes. In tongues that
swell purple with words and in the gaping mouths of fish.

Hallowed be the broken aria of the clouds. Choir that angels
would sell their wings to join. Trumpet Yourself into the
tender coil of our ears not so much with velocity, or smothered
between commercial breaks: But with more plunk and
more ripple. Like the rusty acoustics of a playground, or
the dry scrape of ceramic bowls ushered around a dinner table.

Thy Kingdom slip from the salty grip of stagehands to
drop and jerk on cables like some plump marionette.
But draw the curtains apart slowly. Let us rouge our
cheeks before your coming, oh escort to the upper room.
Deus-ex-machina, dangling stiff and pigeon-toed.

Thy Will be cradled in the softest arms. Unbuttoned and put
to sleep between plastic dolls. Be mopped off floors. Sewn
into our collars with a size and a note to see reverse for care.
Cut into portions the size of parables and pierced with
toothpicks. Taken with bread, with wine. Like bread. Like wine.

Give us this day our daily flask. Our daily fossil exhibit.
Our daily holocaust survivor. Our daily tickertape parade.
The headlines in bold and a daily puddle to soak them in.
May we never count our blessings before they hatch. May
there always be the other cheek. May we bleed internally.

And forgive us our secrets. Our silence. Our scabs.
The way the wind rubs itself against us until we grieve
with it. The way we make time go by faster by closing
one eye. Slower, by crossing two arms. Forgive every
thing we store in ziplock bags and freeze overnight.

As we forgive those who refuse to believe in the buzz of
their own green dreams. Those who lick their fingertips and
pinch flames out instead of letting wax be wax. As we forgive
those who hold a finger up to puckered lips and demonstrate
how to deflate. Who store the future on the highest shelf.

Lead us not up and down aisle after supermarket aisle,
confections to cut your teeth on, to put a crack in every
smile. You squint and it blurs for miles. Roads more
traveled by. Towns with lean, mispronounceable street
names. Between rocks and other hard places. Lead us
not into the lion's den unless the exit sign is lit within.

But deliver us from ourselves. From digital watches.
From gargling clichés before bed. From casting pearls,
or worse, stringing them. Stuffing our pockets. Deliver
us from paradise and, whatever coy tree grows there,
from biting into apple after apple after apple after apple.

For Thine are the clenched teeth and the broken taillights.
Are the branches that droop with their over zealous fruit
blistering to nourish the soil, while over ripened bellies
plead through lips of cracked clay for twenty cents a day.

Forever and ever times infinity. Amen.

                              -from The Wingless, selected by Guest Editor Judy Jordan

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Poems - Prompt - Bio - Reviews - Interview - Reading

In Cecilia Llompart’s rewrite of the “Lord’s Prayer,” she manages to make it her own. She does this in a number of ways, particularly by alternating between concrete sensory detail and abstract thought while emulating its antiquated language. Be as surreal as you would like but try to incorporate as much of the original prayer into your poem as you can without sounding too much like the “original.” Use LOTS of enjambment in your poem and STARTLE the reader with your imagination. Make the “Lord’s Prayer” new!

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Poems - Prompt - Bio - Reviews - Interview - Reading

Cecilia Llompart was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Florida. Her first collection, The Wingless, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in the spring of 2014. She is the recipient of two awards from the Academy of American Poets, and her work has been included or is forthcoming in anthologies by University of Akron Press, University of Georgia Press, Carnegie Mellon University Press, Jaded Ibis Press, and Minor Arcana Press. Her poems have also appeared in Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, The Caribbean Writer, and WomenArts Quarterly Review, to name a few, and have been featured online on poets.org, Verse Daily, Inknode, and Occupy Poetry. As a translator, she has worked or is working with American poets to see their work into Spanish, as well as with poets from Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay to see their work into English. Most recently, she has served as guest editor for an issue of Matter: A Journal of Political Poetry and Commentary themed around the subject of displacement and displaced peoples, judged an anthology for the Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center, presented the topic "Always a Stranger: The Poetry of Those Speaking From the Margins" at WriterHouse, taught undergraduate poetry workshops as well as the course, "The Emotional Politics of Wes Anderson" at the University of Virginia, taught creative writing to elementary and middle school aged students through the Polk Museum of Art, stepped up as chair of creative writing for The Blue Ridge Summer Institute for Young Artists, interned with The Paris Poetry Workshop, and founded New Wanderers, a nomadic poetry collective that sponsors poets on long term traveling projects. She divides her time between Puerto Rico and elsewhere, and often travels with a cardboard sign that reads "poet please help" in order to raise awareness about the challenges of making ends meet as an artist.

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Poems - Prompt - Bio - Reviews - Interview - Reading

"A good poem is one that teaches us to look at the world in a way we hadn't known how to look before. Cecilia Llompart's poems teach us to see the hidden. Hers is a poetry of subtlety and scale: it's a record in equal measure of the sweeping and of the small. In Cecilia's poems, we are made to see the movement in what we thought was stillness. We are given a view of the world through a time-lapse camera, a pair of binoculars, a glass-bottomed boat. In her poems, we can be sure that the tiny barnacle is no less important than the great whale. That the knife and the handkerchief each have a song of their own. Cecilia asks us to linger on what we might otherwise have overlooked. She calls on us to lift the stones, to find what is beneath them. And she rewards us with a beauty we never would have known was there. To enter Cecilia's poetry is to open a glossary of the sacred, in which every common thing has been named, and in this naming, made new. Her words teach us to be better at seeing the world, and to be better at being in it."

- Juliana Daugherty

"The utter originality of these poems makes me bow down. Cecilia Llompart's breathtaking instinct for image and intuitive sense of pacing creates poems which feel like magnetic force fields, whole landscapes of perception. A mind is quieted, changed."

-Naomi Shihab Nye

"In Cecilia Llompart's amazing first collection, The Wingless, whimsy and imagination are rooted deep in mystery and rise up on sure stalks to flower, again and again, into that most desired and various of blossoms–the one the Surrealists called 'the marvelous.' "

-Gregory Orr

"A little smoky and mysterious, Cecilia Llompart's work is lean but full–maximally minimal. The imagination here is vast yet supple, the vision, simultaneously gentle and fierce. Everything her mind touches seems more mystical, more alive. Her poems convey a gratitude, a joy less stated than implied by currents of appetite and love, romantic love and a great wide love of it all."

-Bob Hicok

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Poems - Prompt - Bio - Reviews - Interview - Reading

An Interview with Cecelia Llompart by Clifford Parody, first published at The Ledger

Growing up, she spoke Spanish at home and English at school. From an early age, the concept of dichotomy played a large part in her life.Now 30, that initial dichotomy has further fractured, and Llompart is making her way through life as a Puerto Rican-American-poet-nomad-playwrite-activist-teacher-etc.-etc., and with every move she makes, something new is added to the list.

Although it wasn't until college that she began to seriously focus on her writing, "I knew I was a writer from 7 onward," she said, "It's always been present in my life."
In high school at Harrison School of the Arts, before the creative writing program was established, Llompart studied theater and began writing plays. After graduating, she headed to Florida State University.
"I was walking around campus and bumped into two guys wearing these homemade cardboard signs for a poetry club. I started going twice a week."
This club, coupled with mentorship from professors, shifted Llompart's focus, and she began to take her writing much more seriously.
"I discovered this was something I could go to grad school for," she said.
So she did, getting accepted into the University of Virginia's master of fine arts in poetry program, which takes only five poets a year.
While there, Llompart underwent what may have been, in retrospect, a quarter-life existential crisis. She knew she was on the right path but forced herself to dig deeper into the "why" of it.
"I knew I was a poet, but why do I write poetry? Why does it even matter?" she remembers asking herself.
This, she says, is when the focus of her work began to shift.
"All the things I felt truly changed the world I wanted to filter into my poetry," she said. "I wanted my poetry to turn people on to the issues they weren't paying attention to otherwise."
This new filter has worked well for her. Last year, Llompart's first book of poems, "The Wingless," was published by Carnegie Melon University Press. The back cover of the book features praising blurbs by well-respected and prolific poets Gregory Orr and Bob Hicok and the publication, along with other poems featured in anthologies and magazines, has brought many more readers to Llompart's work.
"I've had people reach out and say my poems helped them with the death of a loved one - that my poem brought a little light in," she said, "That's what keeps me going."
After graduating from UVA, Llompart packed up all her belongings and had them shipped to San Francisco, where she planned to head after finishing up a book tour.
"I just never made it. I ended the tour here in Lakeland," she said.
"I reconnected with the cultural institutions that reared me and started to build connections with other places."
Since returning to Lakeland last year, Llompart has been working as a substitute teacher and setting up poetry workshops around town, including at the Polk Museum of Art, and earlier this month she she was part of the Lakeland Public Library reading series.
Brenda Patterson, Fine Arts Librarian and curator of the series, said she had been trying to work Llompart in for some time.
"She came in and said, 'I'm an author,' " Patterson remembers. "I went, 'Well, OK,' and asked her if she had a book out.
"She is a great poet. I had planned on having her do more things with us, but - life happens."
For Llompart, life is now coming in the form of a big move.
While in Lakeland, she saved a fair amount of money, planning to get out to the West Coast as soon as she had enough, but decided instead to blow the cash on a trip to Paris where she interned with The Paris Poetry Workshop.
This trip set her on a totally new path.
"The next step in my career is going to be a big one," she said. "If I move to Paris now I can be a part of and a writer in both worlds. If I stay here I will just be an American poet."
She plans to leave in December.
This hop across the pond is right in line with another of Llompart's endeavors, "The New Wanderers Collective," which she is working to get off the ground.
The Collective, she said, is built on the connection between travel and creative work.
"A lot of writers and poets believe it is sufficient to stay at home," she said. "What we say is, expose yourself to the world, and expose the world to your poetry."
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                   Click here to view a reading by Llompart
 
 




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Cecelia Llompart



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