Carlos Martinez

In the imagined forests of El Yunque
…..The tropical forest of Puerto Rico


Where I’ve never been. Where I will never go,
except in dreams on hot nights, windows

cranked as open as they will go, where ghost frogs,
the famed coqui, will make its little sound, like

sparks being struck from stone by teeth. There,
where it is humid, every leaf unidentifiable,

dripping with metronome regularity, is where
I go, when I fall asleep, old head, gray head,

nestled into old pillows that have come
through all of these years with me, alarm clock

set for early, I wouldn’t want to miss anything
in what time remains. I wake on the other side,

native, young, before the time
of the great wooden ships that appeared suddenly,

not today, but a yesterday, long ago when steel helms
almost rusted through cut through jungle foliage,

swords in air weaving back and forth, the sound
of feet running into jungle, deeper, into darkness

and history. I am there, genetic memory, made so
by the high Indian cheekbones of my mother,

now dead, who drifted across open water
to bear me, one night, in a New York as gone

as the jungles in which, when asleep, I run.


Carlos Martinez is the author of the chapbooks Meanwhile, Back in Kansas (Finishing Line Press, 2007), The Cold Music of the Ocean (Finishing Line Press, 2004), and The Raw Silk of the Dark (Finishing Line Press, 2008). He was born in New York City and worked for many years in King County government before leaving to teach poetry and literature at Western Washington University. He lives in Ferndale, Washington.