Tikal Before Morning – A Poem by Nathan Erwin

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The Equatorial Jungle
Henri Rousseau

Submitted by Nathan Erwin

July 1st, 2017

Time, every time after time
after the meal,
we had coffee.

Deep in the jungle,
roasting rumors the milky way.
The way heavy with green eye of
Great Jaguar.

There was Neruda, listening to the white hot
gunshots in the distance— was reciting
how the morning is full of storms.

It was far off at first,
spreading cancer sky,
windows cracked with a rolling promise.
Guatemala City of wars and songs
welcomes the sheets of rains with eyes
and trembling.

Clouds at night are heard.
Clouds at night cast shadows on the stars.
Night on clouds are reavers of the legs of light
wrapping the street lamps.

Coaxing the heavy winds,
so tired of being lied to, so very tired.
The Time of Violence has passed.
Today holds no titles,
just hands cupped to catch the fall
of bitter, bitter rain.

What are these but violent times?
Pablo told me
in jungles there are two rains:
the drops that strike the trees
and the fall that comes from the leaves.


About the Poet

Nathan Erwin is a Masters Candidate in Global Environmental Politics at American University where he studies food sovereignty, indigenous rights, and the biopolitics of conservation. He was an elementary school teacher for six years working on Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia. Columbia Pike is one of the most diverse roads in America with 147 countries represented; Erwin’s connection to place along with his current studies inform his writing, community-youth engagement, and social activism. He received his undergraduate degrees in Classics, English Education, and Special Education (K-12) at the State University of New York—Fredonia. Erwin’s work has recently appeared in Old Red Kimono and The Oyster Boy Review.

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4 thoughts

  1. Incredible imagery, and I especially love the 2nd last stanza
    “Coaxing the heavy winds,
    so tired of being lied to, so very tired.
    The Time of Violence has passed.
    Today holds no titles,
    just hands cupped to catch the fall
    of bitter, bitter rain.”

  2. So much to feel in this, so beautifully layered. I really like the ending,
    “in jungles there are two rains:
    the drops that strike the trees
    and the fall that comes from the leaves.”
    This is one I will read several times.

Any thoughts?