Mi Langosta Negra

for Manuel de Jesús Velázques León


Full moon, full moon -

all night you hung enraptured

in the Japanese maple. Now

I awaken to find my windswept

wisteria heavy with seeds.


Manuel’s black locust alights

on a lemon lily escaped from

a garden tended by bees.

The old man of the alley

laments our tarnished world.


How often must the door

of the heart swing open?

Already it’s almost evening.

Until the laconic moon rises:

the black locust, only my locust.


Mi Langosta Negra explanation:

While there are supposed to be no black locusts here in southern Canada, I have a fine specimen growing in my front garden, well north of its native range. But I do believe there are none in Cuba, for it cannot be considered a sub-tropical tree, so my friend could never have seen one, could not be expected to know anything about them.
Thus, in my poem “Cardinal” he translated “my black locust” as mi langosta negra (the insect) instead of mi algarrobo negro (the tree), yielding the stunningly Machado-inspired image of a black locust, perhaps consuming my decorative wild grasses while my wife and I innocently made love. All too soon, however, this locust invaded our dreams, flying frantically back and forth across our bedroom while we slept, or tried to sleep.
We wished it would grow bored with our home, which is no lavish villa in Greece or Italy, but a modest Canadian house in Sarnia. We expected it to alight on one of those ocean-going ships passing through the St. Clair River on their way to the Atlantic. After all, how exciting could the daily lives of a couple of seniors be when compared to the high adventure of going to sea?
Alas, no. It was not to be. Like Edgar Allan Poe’s black cat, our black locust, entranced by its new life in our imaginations, would not depart. Even now it sits on my bookcase, long hind legs bent, watching.


Black Locust


James Deahl was born in Pittsburgh during 1945. He lives in Sarnia with the writer Norma West Linder. He is the author of twenty-three literary titles, the four most recent being: Two Paths Through The Seasons (with Norma West Linder, 2014), North Point (2012), Rooms The Wind Makes (2012), and North Of Belleville (with Richard M. Grove, 2012). He is the father of Sarah, Simone, and Shona.
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