Pena negra

by Catherine Chandler

Los caballos negros son.  — Federico García Lorca,
from “Romance de la Guardia Civil Española”

He does not mince his words, calling it brown,
as in brown study. No insipid blues.
He does not misinform, with gentle hues,
with undertones for adjective and noun.
The color of his grief is monochrome —
no burnished mettle of a copper noon,
no silver premise of a waxing moon.
No cinnamon. No green, green grass of home.

He does not sing of sorrow lightly. Deep
and unaccompanied, his voice assigns
a fragment of his soul between the lines,
his duende’s power daring us to weep.
The gypsy knows the trip to hell and back
can only be conveyed in shades of black.

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Catherine Chandler’s poetry and translations have been published in print and online journals and anthologies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and twice finalist for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Competition, she is the author of For No Good Reason (The Olive Press, 2008).
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Published 16 March 2010