Poems by Carlos Bulosan

Without Ceremony

Hurriedly the crowd disappeared at the street's end.
Forever the curious faces look and stare, obscuring,
Leaving the possible truth unseen -
Open and big faces are nothing but blurred images.
These are faces that are saddened by the spying years,
Faces that once gleamed with a surge of promise
And strength, strength tautened with reservations.

From the deep tunnel of winter ploughing,
I see faces growing fragmentary with stale careers.

Under the furious triumph of winter rain, the mind
Quickens. A little leakage of memory fills, drains,
And opens a new wound of queer poignancy.
From the savage lines of faces, it moves, coils,
And sets a fire. Thought is like a mountain storm
Threatening the hunters.
How steep is time,
How deep is sleep - 


Letter from America

You write in the Far East where you are
They cut down the trees and leveled them to the ground
Where fire stood and laughed and screamed, where birds
Flocked to partake with the festival, but were silenced
By the barking of guns; and their story is the history
Of leaves when inviolate guerdons shake the trees.
You tell me that the mountains are tunneled, the hills
Dug out and thrown into the rivers, and the rivers
Are emptied; you tell me that the fields are planted
With camps, houses, buildings, and the garden where
We had gathered roses for the queen of spring
Is now a stable for horses, and our house us a sleeping
Quarters for soldiers.
You aske me why, and what shall I say?

What could I say in words?
I sit here fingering actualities, thinking of what
Cities I have seen indistinguishably - like rain;
But could I answer your questions with these?
In any case you would not approve of pictures,
And this makes us one. For in this city where
The streets scream for life, where men are hunting
Each other with burning eyes, mountains are made of sand,
Glass, paper from factories where death is calling
For peace; hills are made of clothes, and trees
Are nothing but candies.
In these we are almost the same. And now that I look
Out of the window I see our America bleeding.
I do not know of any answer to tell you.


In Time of Drought

To sit in silence is like watching the night
Spread over the land and the winds are sliding by
In an unmistakable whisper; to stand and wander in
The evening is like fingering our eyes in the dark.
Come to the valley and listen to the sharp call
Of tuber roots; and red tiger lilies are bravely shouldering
Their delicate thinness above the parched earth,
Crying for rain.

Let us wait late tonight and see how naked we appear
Under no sun, how unutterably defeatable we are
By the razor cry of exhaustion, our body's strange
History. For such is the excess of our desire:
We surrender, being whipped by futilities.

From this dread doom, there is an escape to no conflict;
This is only a cloud of smoked realities...
And now I hear the temporal cry of the loam, of birds
Sluicing the late evening air, hushing the land,
And the leaves are signaturing the approach of winter.
Nothing is more exquisite than the silver scream
Of the starved earth awakening to the thistles of rain,
Life answering life. I knew this from the easy
Stir of blood answering blood, of roots outstaying
The rose, and the sharpened slant of a tree without leaves.
Tonight the faint clash of earth is answering silence.



Your face is as big as a seed,
But you do not bear fruit
To complete the meaning of your name;
Like the night that spreads
Over the sea with thick wings
But has no body
To tell of its existence


No Story

Grass repeats the story of the wind. It bends
Down on glassy knees and whispers to the earth.
The earth laughs lovelily and poisons its leaves.
But this snow quieter than grass under rain, what does
It tell of the sun? It is spineless. When the sun burns
Its stoves, it emerges into the earth.
It has nothing to tell, but it gives the words
Of a story that the earth whispers to the grass.



All night the sea rushed in monosyllables
To the shore, where the rocks and reefs loomed
Majestically and silence stood without shoes;
And the foam crept to the edges of darkness
Burning its inflammable garments, whereon
Water activities showed delight and humor.

Silence, imperial silence, I have felt your beauty
In the hour of formlessness; it cupped me up
Like an autumn wind moving into space.
Monumental silence, I too have something to tell,
I too have a passion to arise, and the honor
To possess this passion - 

All night the sea rushed in silence and knelt
In the darkness, complaining in monosyllables.