Jose Sotolongo – Four Poems


Begonia Pots

Begonia pots, bright pink and peach
Festoon the dark drab days of fall
Still only vaguely promised, not even yet begun.
The garden dirt’s dust-dry in spots
Where sparrows shimmy, spin and flutter.
They do the cha-cha, that mites be gone.

His Self

Those hazel eyes, the softness of them
The love that pours unchecked.
Those pupils that stream care, concern
When I blabber and complain.
These gifts create an urge in me
That drives me to expect,
To need his company, his empathy —
That loveliness, that worth: all that for which I thirst.

Winter Leaves

A winter walk in the woods
Takes me longer. I linger.
The deep and little beauties
Of leaves still hanging
Or under my sole slow me
Take me longer to see:
Subtle rust, sienna and cinnamon,
Ochres of lasting leaves.
Silence. Ready for a kitchen’s warmth.

A Good Wedding

The beaming groom was blond and handsome
The gorgeous bride so bright and svelte.
His mother’s tears smeared her mascara
Her father’s face resembled stone.
And when they rode the gleaming limo
Their smiles still flashing from within
We waved adieu and wished them well
Drank more champagne, the bubbles prancing
And went to dream in our own beds
All draped in hope and love and grace.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Diversity in a species is the key to its survival. Without it, changing environments would ultimately eliminate it. Black skin, a large nose, blond hair — these variations in human physical features have or will serve some purpose in the success of our species. And yet, there are some traits that we share so deeply and universally that contemplating our commonality takes us away from anthropological concerns and becomes a mystical experience. It is safe to say that no human ever looked at a peaceful, starry night-sky and ran for cover, or was recoiled by the warbling of a songbird. There are some sensory stimuli that are cherished by all us, and always will. The feel of silk. The fragrance of roses. The taste of a sweet fruit. We respond to them on a neurological and biological level, carried in our genes. And so to be in the presence of, or to witness and be moved by, a calming, lovely experience (even if it’s vicariously created with words on a page) is to reaffirm our humanity in the deepest possible sense. There is nothing greater.

Jose Sotolongo was born in Cuba. The written word, both in Spanish and English, has been of paramount importance to him all his life, a refuge from personal turmoil. His fiction has appeared in Turk’s Head Review, The Rusty Nail, Ray’s Road Review and The Write Room. He lives with his husband on an old goat farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York, where he is completing a novel. He is a proud member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers.