City of a Hundred Fires

City of a Hundred Fires

Richard Blanco
Copyright Date: 1998
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57
Pages: 88
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  • Book Info
    City of a Hundred Fires
    Book Description:

    "Richard Blanco, a Cuban raised in the United States, records his threefold burdens: learning and adapting to American culture, translating for family and friends, and maintaining his own roots. . . . Blanco is already a mature, seasoned writer, and his powers of description and determination to get every nuance correct are evident from the first poem. . . . Absolutely essential for all libraries." --Library Journal "As one of the newer voices in Cuban-American poetry, Blanco write about the reality of an uprooted culture and how the poet binds the farthest regions of the world together through language. . . . This book describes the price of exile and extends beyond the shores of America and the imagined shores of home." --Bloomsbury Review "Unlike most contemporary minority poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, introduces readers to the fullness and richness of ethnic life, and not only the frustration and isolation so often associated with it. Richard Blanco exquisitely portrays the triumphs and defeats of a land and a people that have just barely survived revolution and time, and, without sentiment or cliche, affirms the ability within us all to achieve wholeness." --Indiana Review "Blanco is a fine young poet, and this poetry, the bread and wine of our language of exile, is pure delight. May he continue to produce such a heavenly mix of rhythm and image-these poems are more than gems, they are the truth not only about the Cuban-American experience, but of our collective experience in the United States, a beautiful land of gypsies." --Virgil Suarez Richard Blanco was, as he says, "made in Cuba, asssembled in Madrid, and imported to the United States," meaning he was conceived in Cuba, born in Madrid, and arrived in the United States as an infant able to claim citizenship in three different countries. His work has appeared in many journals, magazines, and anthologies, including the Nation, Michigan Quarterly, TriQuarterly, and Indiana Review. Blanco is a graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at Florida International University and also works as a civil engineer.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7889-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.1
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.2
  3. I
    • América
      (pp. 3-6)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.3
    • Teatro Martí
      (pp. 7-7)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.4

      Outside, I would close one eye and squint the other and count the bulbs in English while everyone stood for tickets. Inside Sarita Montiel awaited without subtitles. Always the semi-nude scene: Sarita in her porous eggshell skin, a perfect sienna mole, eyebrows penciled like Japanese ink strokes on silk, the soft balls of her feet and strawberry toenails seeping from under the edges of sheets swirled around her contours like icing, propped on her breasts and elbows and crying with aGallegolisp into a gross of satin pillows, believing there would be justice for her undeserved suffering. Justice because...

    • La Revolución at Antonio’s Mercado
      (pp. 8-9)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.5

      Para la santera, Esperanza, who makes me open new boxes of candles so she can pick out the red ones, the color ofChangó, her protector spirit, and tutors me in the ways of all the spirits:Eleguá, Ochún,Yemayá,

      ParaJosie on welfare, who sells me her food stamps for cash because she can’t buy cocoa butter soaps, Coca-Cola, or disposable diapers with them,

      Para laSeñora Vidal and her husband who came early in the 50s beforela Revolución, own the famous Matador Grille on Eighth Street, helped those who came later, who give me two-dollar tips when I...

    • Mango, Number 61
      (pp. 10-10)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.6

      Pescado grandewas number 14, whilepescado chicowas number 12;dinero, money, was number 10. This wasla charada, the sacred and obsessive numerology myabuelaused to predict lottery numbers or winning trifectas at the dog track. The grocery stores and pawn shops on Flagler Street handed out complimentary wallet-size cards printed with the entirecharada, numbers 1 through 100: number 70 wascoco, number 89 wasmelón, and number 61 wasmango. Mango was Mrs. Pike, the lastamericanaon the block with the best mango tree in the neighborhood.Mamáwould coerce her in granting us...

    • El Malibú
      (pp. 11-11)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.7
    • Islamorada
      (pp. 12-12)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.8
    • Crayons for Elena
      (pp. 13-13)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.9

      This is for the $1.98 flip-top box of crayons we buried in my mother’s shopping cart and coerced her into buying for us; how we capitalized on sympathy and the pitying looks of the cashier and customers behind us, embarrassed her at the checkout with ourfuchsiapleas until she gave in. This is for the thunderstorms and the after-school afternoons—cartoons rioting in the screened Florida room while we sprawled on the floor and warmed the cold tile, tested all sixty-four crayons on junk mail scraps and blank newsprint. Even the colors we didn’t understand—sienna brown, peach, and...

    • Mail for Mamá
      (pp. 14-14)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.10
    • Los Santos of the Living Room
      (pp. 15-15)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.11

      At herQuincesball, my cousin Susana was presented to society as a lavish pearl, unveiled from a giant enameled oyster rolled right into the center of the festivities. The commemorative portrait of the fifteen-year-old debutante—caped in feathers, coyly posed with cherubs at her feet on the marble staircases of Vizcaya Palace and wisping an Andalucian fan—hung conspicuously in our living room, competing with the velvet furniture, the avocado marquise curtains and crême chiffon sheers.Mamáalso hung flea market oil paintings of palm tree landscapes and ink sketches of La Habana Vieja—La Catedral, El Capitolio, El...

    • Mother Picking Produce
      (pp. 16-16)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.12
    • The Lesson
      (pp. 17-18)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.13
    • Shaving
      (pp. 19-20)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.14
    • Letter to El Flaco on His Birthday
      (pp. 21-22)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.15
    • Hola
      (pp. 23-23)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.16

      A saving quarter from a linted pocket, a week-old number on a napkin I had by now memorized like the taste of water. I dial you. My voice crackling with the static of the pay phone. You answer the Sunday call with“hola,”italic> a homonym for wave—ola—in our language of silenth’s and a silent beach where we meet as if we could resolve something; as if by staring at the vastness of the universe icing the Atlantic anything could become less important by contrast. Tonight Gemini is two fireflies hovering about my fingertip and I could be...

    • 324 Mendoza Avenue, #6
      (pp. 24-25)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.17
    • What Las Palmas Mean:
      (pp. 26-27)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.18
    • La Bella Dama of Little Havana
      (pp. 28-28)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.19
    • A Note About Sake
      (pp. 29-29)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.20
    • The Silver Sands
      (pp. 30-30)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.21
    • Photo Shop
      (pp. 31-32)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.22
    • Contemplations at the Virgin de la Caridad Cafetería, Inc.
      (pp. 33-34)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.23
  4. II
    • Havanasis
      (pp. 37-38)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.24

      In the beginning, before God created Cuba, the earth was chaos, empty of form and without music. The spirit of God stirred over the dark tropical waters and God said, “Let there be music.” And a soft conga began a one-two beat in background of the chaos.

      Then God called upYemayáand said, “Let the waters under heaven amass together and let dry land appear.” It was done. God called the fertile red earth Cuba and the massed waters the Caribbean. And God saw this was good, tapping his foot to the conga beat.

      Then God said, “Let the...

    • Varadero en Alba
      (pp. 39-40)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.25
    • The Road to Rancho Luna
      (pp. 41-41)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.26
    • Havana 50s
      (pp. 42-42)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.27
    • El Jagua Resort
      (pp. 43-45)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.28
    • Last Night in Havana
      (pp. 46-47)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.29
    • El Juan
      (pp. 48-48)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.30
    • Partial List: Guantánamo Detainees
      (pp. 49-49)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.31
      (pp. 50-54)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.32
    • The Reservoir
      (pp. 55-56)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.33
    • Abuela Valdés
      (pp. 57-58)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.34
    • El Cucubano
      (pp. 59-60)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.35
    • Zafra
      (pp. 61-61)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.36
    • The Morning Kill
      (pp. 62-63)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.37
    • Tía Olivia Serves Wallace Stevens a Cuban Egg
      (pp. 64-65)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.38
    • Décima Guajira
      (pp. 66-66)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.39
    • Postcard to W. C. Williams from Cienfuegos
      (pp. 67-67)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.40
    • Palmita Mía
      (pp. 68-69)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.41
    • Palmita Mía (translation)
      (pp. 70-72)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.42
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 73-74)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.43
  6. Back Matter
    (pp. 75-75)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjr57.44