Friday, April 24, 2015

blood sugar canto by ire'ne lara silva

blood sugar canto
ire’ne lara silva
Saddle Road Press
January 2, 2016

blood sugar canto is Ire’ne Lara Silva’s new poetry collection due from Aztlan Libre press this summer. This collection is about learning to live with the enemy when the enemy is inside you (aided and abetted by the corporate food industry – “decolonize your diet mi raza”): a diagnosis of diabetes – la azucar. The poet learns to accommodate fear, to make a place for it so it will stay in its place, without surrendering to it.

I am reminded of ee cummings, not merely by the lack of capitalization and punctuation, but because these poem are largely free verse while simultaneously, somehow, beautifully structured. “song for fear” is an ode, not to fear, but to survival, control and containment. Silva decided that the endless struggle with fear would destroy her and a sort of rapprochement is reached:

i see you now
fear
there is a place for you here
and there is work for you
but you cannot remain
rampant and uncontrolled
you cannot claim
my entire body as your
refuge your hideout your food

in return
i promise
not to eat you

i won’t tear at you
with my teeth
poisoning myself
i will watch over you
and it will be safe
for you to be a small
and furred creature
and at dawn i will remember
to sing to you too

In “diabetic love song” Silva has been motivated, spurred on by the disease and her use of repetition here is musical and potent:

given that time is short
given that the number of my days is unknown
i have no patience now for people who put off their dreams
people without dreams
people dedicated to accumulation and consumption
people who fill their lives with drama and noise

To be sure there are laments and elegies to and for her many family members felled by diabetes but there is also humor and hope. “tequilita” (note the endearment) is an ode to exactly what it sounds like and yet another thing denied to her.

though from nineteen to twenty-eight, we rampaged from one coast to another, in south texas, on the other side of the border, in austin and san antonio. you made the lights, the singing, the dancing all the more beautiful. you were so much a part of me, i even learned to answer to your name.

“the diabetic lover” is deliciously sexy and affectionate and funny.

it’s not recommended,                 my love
that i      cover your body               with whip crème
and chocolate syrup
ire'ne lara silva
maraschino cherries
for aesthetic emphasis
i could not dust you
with enough whey protein
to make up for all
those empty carbohydrates


Turns out the answer is strategically placed granules of turbinado raw cane sugar. “i call myself back” is an incantation invoking the mighty mujer, the poet reasserting herself, brimful of clear-eyed determination, tinged with hope, spiced with indignation.

blood sugar canto is highly recommended for anyone dealing with a daunting foe that needs to be put in its place.

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