For My Friend Who Complains He Can’t Dance and Has a Severe Case of Writer’s Block By Nick Carbó


Then, take this tambourine
inside the sheep barn,

listen to the anaconda’s intestines,
the shark’s walking stick,

learn the river insect’s secret
neon calligraphy,

swim through Frida Khalo’s hair
and come out smelling like orchids,

lift your appetite
towards the certified blue turtle,

feast on Garcia Lorca’s leather shoes
and taste the sun, the worms of Andalusia,

don’t hesitate in front of a donut,
a ferris wheel, the crab nebula,

excavate diamond-eyed demons,
Chaucer’s liver, Minoan helmets,

paste Anne Sexton’s face on a $1,000 bill
and purchase a dozen metaphors,

beware of the absolute scorpion,
the iguana with the limping leg,

permit indwelling, white words around the eyes,
the confrontation of windows,

never feed your towel to the alligator,
he will eat you and eat you and eat you.



First published in El Grupo McDonald’s (Tia Chucha, 1995). Reprinted by permission of Nick Carbó.



Nick Carbó has edited two anthologies of Filipino literature, Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino and Filipino American Poetry (1995) and Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers (2000), and coedited the anthology Sweet Jesus: Poems About the Ultimate Icon (2002) with Denise Duhamel. His honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Le Château de Lavigny. His collections of poetry include El Grupo McDonald’s (1995); Secret Asian Man (2000), which won an Asian American Literary Award; and Andalusian Dawn (2004). Carbó’s work can be humorous, even satirical, in his examinations of American pop culture and its influence on Asian countries such as the Philippines. He told National Public Radio, “By writing about these influences, it’s my way of kicking back.”


Chalkboard graphic by Nick Carbó.

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