Nina Serrano

Nina Serrano is a poet, translator, and independent media producer. Her latest book, Heart’s Journey (2013), is available at estuarypress.com. In 2013, Nina translated Wild Animal by Peruvian poet, Adrian Arias. In 2012, she translated his science fiction work Beautiful Trash. Her earlier collected poems Heart Songs is available as well. Serrano is a KPFA-fm host/radio producer of La Raza Chronicles and Open Book. She has been the director of both Poetry in the Schools and Storytelling in the Schools programs. Follow her on her new website and blog: ninaserrano.com.

 

The Angel of Death

(For Daniel del Solar)*
 
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas

The angel of death last night was with us
who sat vigil at Daniel’s house in his long hours
struggling to let go of life
Daniel-—so devoted
to sucking its sweetness from moments and seconds
Discovering people antiquities rocks shells papers
vistas sunsets blown-glass and art of every description
in his hour by hour adventures
I had played his poem on the air that afternoon
and a listener called saying
he had met that man reciting the poem
in front of a glassed display of Jadeite
at the Olmeca exhibit at the de Young Museum
and the man gave him his card which he lost
and now hearing the poem
and the voice he was sure it was Daniel
who had admired the stone out loud
and in response the caller
pulled one just like it from his pocket
and Daniel had marveled.
Now, the listener said, he was sitting in his garden
in the sunlight listening to the radio
working on such a piece of Jadeite
when he heard the poem he wanted
to give Daniel this work
I said sardonically (to hide my pain)
“Too late he is dying”
He said, “I can finish today. I will bring it.”
So even in Daniel’s dying
these adventurous encounters go on
The poem the stone carving and me
witness of this marvel of flesh and bone
that shrunken and bloated with fluid and bruised
with the battle scars of wrestling
with the angel of death
licking at his heels for these last six years
as he jumped on and off planes as fast
as his electronic cameras could click
and I would pick him up at the airport —
Now the eternal angel spreads those mighty wings
We the caring giving sisters can hear
the invisible swish of air in our vigil
The Hospice brings its death by morphine
but it is nothing compared to this greater force
“Do not go gentle into that good night…”
Daniel would quote and I would think
“Gentle. Gentle is the way to go. Why rage rage rage?”
Now I watch him weakened and sedated
and Yes!  He is raging raging raging
I and my vigilant loving sisters and his glorious mother
the queen of art will bathe him in light
to go gentle gentle gentle
onto the next journey

*This poem was written on January 6, 2012 as 3 Kings passed following a star in Oakland CA.
 

 

56th Birthday Insomnia

I’m awake can’t sleep
even though my eyes burn
against the pre-dawn electric light glare
My inner critic hurls accusations at me
running them across the inside of my head
in banner headlines
Why am I
croaking my way through life
Where is my song
praising the coming of dawn
Where is the purposeful girl I was
her promise of success and courage
her talents shining
like a polished shield
against the shadow of oblivion
and the shame of mediocrity
I face today
I cannot lie in the bed I’ve made
nor sleep to unravel the knots I’ve dreamed up
where only nightmares of failure reproach me
My pillow is a leaky balloon of unfulfilled hopes
and unspoken wishes
I’m awake although the moon disappeared
and the sun hasn’t dawned on me
There is silence
Only the light bulb
speaks to me of modern life
Night and it’s dark cave of fear
calls my disappointed heart to task
There is no rest
No bright morning carol or falling dew
to herald the end of this restlessness
as I endure the reproach
of the timekeeper
Grains of sand
sting my eyes
in the unforgiving night

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