from Beneath the Spanish

Tumbadora

North Africa/Caribbean Note pasafu I
 
            A la memoria de Tata Güines
 
Listening to Tata Güines
Standing on my Salé balcony
Better I am living Tata
The beats along with my heart
Drinking sound digest shapes
Sparkling thought images 
Like a deck of cards
Spinning pressed by a thumb/
Tata self-educated which is
Also my case,
He heard the radio in his
Havana Güines barrio,
Listened to the tumba players
On the street, ask questions
He lived the music.
As I read books and rebelled against
Schools,
Words were in books
What I wanted to feel
Was in books
And the Conversations with elders,
The oral voice.
Music was the ether of youth
The background ocean full of dancing fish,
Rhythm collaborated with my brain
Cells bouncing fast scattered images
perceive it now in Tata Güine’s solos,
City flying the current with
A tropical river that surrendered
At my feet the past
Shrimps holding up pictures
Of blue wooden houses
With zinc rooftops,
Huge sky blue.
Tata hits the skin
His fingerprints mark
Language in the sky,
Each slap reminds a flower
To blossom in the Congo,
The tumba pitch falls into
Slow drag
When he rubs
Hide scratching out mountain dirt
His nails animal where it roamed
Righteous beating, a whining
Like beg, laborious pain
Birth.
 
The cabinet is a montage
Of wood-tight animal,
Sealed like leather zapatos
Tata rumbas and I grow shoes
Foot shakes insects off
Goat flesh stretched
Screams colors of tan tinges
How the cow gave milk,
Tata zapatero
Make my zapatillas
Resbalosas upon the loseta
Glittering/
Below on the strees two guys Ganawa
Show up
Before vision I had heard
The metal castanets approaching
Dressed Mayan/or Inca
beyond kaleidoscope colors,
They dance the morning
Café to elevate,
Tata’s manos weave
colors merge so many Africa’s
Meet
Open book of Alejo Carpentier
On Cuban music
Immense rhythmic melodious
Till horizon meets historic cotorra
Scribbling sky danzón
My foot wants to danza South
Sahara down
Tata drumming palms upon
Cowhide
Some drums mule skin
Has been said water buffalo,
Goat tumtu sounds make
A fist garden
Floreos crash into
The Ganawa clank.
Dr. Fernando Ortiz
Researched nkongo Banto-Congolese:
Conga a dance a circle,
Makuta cows charge into 
The rhythm
Listen how distance condenses
Throw step and bop head
I am below the Niger River
Scribble Calligraphy on the Sahara sand
Moving down the wind comes
And away blow designs.
My country is rhythm
The only true legislation,
Political status pales with the cadence.
Dance is
The nature of rolling mountains
Running towards the coast
To jump into the water
Government is the clave,
Adal Maldonado took my
Passport photo out of focus
Similar to the nation
But in tune with Mambo
The secret codes upon document
The camera note:
“Accidental products
Of distraction
And forgetfulness
Will make you Mambo again”
The photographer scribbled in
A note twenty years ago
When we were different images
Both
Trying to enfoco Foco it
Becoming enfoco lens out
Focus out of the blue
Enfoco it Que se Foco,
Photography is a squish
In the darkness of the cave
The silence between
Spaces of limestone
Total obscurity
Snaps/What is in the light.
What is Tata doing
Slow finger-popping
The cowhide
Discussing something
With Chano Pozo
Tata was a kid once
Jumped up on Havana stage
Chano there
Put his hands on the 
Tumbadora across from
The composer of:
“Ariñañra”
Started to slap it.
Um, kaslap—kaslap.
The elder saw him right away
Saw what he heard, the color
Of the flowers sprouting.
 
As I listen the air Caribbeans
Now late February
In the depth a motion of Spring
Moisture warm waves of flesh
Skin on skin
Tata Güines maestro classic
Ever to tumba the dora
upon the street of forever
Sunbeats. Sabora.