Secret Garden Poems at Vizcaya 2017

© Melanie Ponce

Contrapasso Contrapposto By Melanie Ponce

Paradiso We stand together beneath the muffled rays of light A group of bare kneed students with wrinkled shirts and crumbled pamphlets Looking ‘round the Kingdom of Limestone Sweat runs down our backs, the humid air stagnant as we breathe collectively The smell of salt and ocean mist clinging to our skin We are the architects of this room, our future A plethora of decisions yet to come We hold the collective steps and potential pathways That will carve our Vizcaya in the coarse sands of time

Purgatorio The rallying cry of change calls for us An echo pounding against the white walls The chiseled figures sculpted by our ancestors Works of art Smooth marble Breaking apart by the sound of our pleas, the stomping of our feet Shake their foundation ‘Till they break

Inferno But the marble hid the steel inside Its structure, the decrepit beams which woked The ardent stares of those who came before us Their eyes digging a hole at the back of our necks. Their cry for change was good enough for them And everything that we do That I do Poses a threat to their lifestyle To their evening luncheons and art excursions To their carnival cruise ships and holiday trips to the north. The old men and women of yesteryear, Whose chant echoes how our future is in our shoulders but in turn slap our hands away When we ask for help. Their backs face us, draped with the cloths of their experiences. They wash their hands with our sweat.

© Kassandra Casanova

michelangelo By Kassandra Casanova

 I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.

my picture has been painted for me. the backdrop has been set, the prologue written. my story begins on the shore, brought forth by the tide and might of the moon. but i am no venus. the crashing waves are not my lullabies. they do not soothe me with their hushed voices. they are witnesses to my twisted birth. i am the product of pain, desperation and hope. my naked body is a map, a storybook, a constellation of stars and scars. it is hideous, it is not the sistine chapel.

a hand reaches out across time and distance. it is my great- grandmother’s, and the many grandmothers before her, calling me, begging me to pick up the brush, to paint their stories. but i am no michelangelo. this chisel is much too heavy, my paints have dried. i want to remember their stories, their pains, their sleepy fishing towns, their native tongues, i want to paint their memories into existence. but my fingers have cramped. my knuckles are white from holding this brush tight for too long. i am no atlas. i cannot carry the weight of this expectation forever. i want to tell their stories- their pleas echo and torment my memories and waking nights. i dont want to forget- mesedez, ez ahaztu. oh please, God, please dont let me forget. but it’s too late- i can no longer remember

barkatu, amona. im sorry, abuela

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© Maria Victoria Biancardi

Encountering the Allograft, Vizcaya circa 1914 By Maria Victoria Biancardi

“Awake!”     he says. The light is half-                       extinguished, the air damp and                       mutable—rain, flooding the land’s                       epidermis. Mud, running sanguine to reveal                       a graveyard, Tequesta                       burial mound. Here                       she sleeps, Vizcaya.       He hooks a harsh line straight through sacred                       soil, his scalpel etching onto                       the ground an Eden scheme, flora                       organized like arteries, a maze of sculptures,                       guardians—valves to steer                       the pulse of watery clay                       in the hush of Florida fever. “Awake!       Let there be construction,” he says.                       He wants Rome rising from                       a bed of shell and coral and clay. He wants to spark the land alive like a dead tongue into murmur. He wants this terrain for his villa. He wants construction. “Awake!”     He is Prometheus, creator or tomb raider –                       collecting his specimen, native,                       foreign—removing old European                       blood, injecting it into this                       slumbering tissue.                       Tequesta flesh. Transfusion.                       He digs into the cavities with his needle: “Awake!”     He stitches the pieces—drapes and ligaments,                       hearth and cardiac muscle—incision in every room—                       chandelier transplants, Middle Eastern carpets, painting                       sliced to fit an organ. He quilts a patchwork: Atlantic                       threads and Mediterranean strands–marble and                       coquina limestone. He weaves those shores—                       sewn together, then cauterized. Then “Awake!”     She is risen. Half-alive, half-                       extinguished. Bloody torso she                       can’t recognize—can’t know what to say or what to call herself.                       Of her creation and creator she is                       Absolutely                       Ignorant. Vizcaya

he has named her.

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© Aaron Rodriguez-Pupo

Ode to Vizcaya GroundsBy Aaron Rodriguez-Pupo

Trees stripped bare in the storm still shelter wet rocks, and the sky is clear through the branches— blue holes show through the canopy and light shines on leaves that have never seen the sun.

I catch two lizards fighting on a branch, little brown things with tiny claws, ignorant of the way water drips and drains down into the limestone. The empty moat lies overgrown, and the house, younger than it looks, leans on the bay, water-logged,

blown about. Inside, red marble stays cool to the touch and in the salon the gold and crystal chandelier still hangs out of time, out of place, from a roof built somewhere else,

in a house built somewhere else, and planted here against the magroves’ will, and which, though new to me, seems haggard, old to the wet rocks, storm-touched, that were here before, and will be here after.

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© Cristina Meléndez

Help By Cristina Meléndez

It’s been a day The only good news is that I’m somehow alive I keep hearing the wind recklessly screaming into the silver stained shutters The loud thumps of water falling from cracked ceilings Praying my car my house wouldn’t inundate I have never known headaches like this Everything has changed Help

It’s been a week The furrows on my face appearing like she did, suddenly, are now distinct I’ve grown a bit weary of the mornings, drenched in my own sweat The afternoons, fanning myself with leftover carton pieces from loved one’s care packages The 8pm curfews Everything has changed Help!

It’s been a month And she’s been gone but her destruction still lingers Poignantly reminding me of what she’s done to my family, to my people, to my island, My beautiful enchanting island Everything is brown, Everything is still not ok Everything has changed and I still need help.

© Albany Gonzalez

childhood as a gestureBy Albany Gonzalez

My mama’s hands are rough Even in the Miami winter The skin splinters off and cracks Used to tell her they look like the veins of a leaf. My mama worked in houses not as decadent but almost high arching roofs expensive art but no pseudo-moats as if separating us and them between dimensions sharp, harsh a sort of violence that transcends time My mama hid it well So I can’t help but wonder: Did the children play between the trunks of the banyan trees the way I lost myself in the backyards of mansions while their parents knelt, and bent, and worked till fissures bled on the skins of their hands?

The Vizcaya Poems by Poetry Art Community The Frog Fountain Poems The Secret Garden Poems The Center Island Poems The Grotto Poems The West Pool Poems


AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE John William Bailly & Stephanie Sepúlveda 10 November 2017

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