(Pamela Richardson reads her prize-winning poem Deliverance at the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival last spring.
Pamela Richardson's poems stood out immediately as I was reading the submissions for last year's Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival. I was especially impressed by Warning About Mangos, finding its sensory world hard to resist, and placed her work at the top of my my judge's list. Her poem Deliverance was one of the eight final winners and can be found at http://www.nazimhikmetpoetryfestival.org/ along with the other winning work. The festival booklet, by the way, will soon be available as a real publication from amazon.com. Pamela lives in Charlotte, NC and teaches composition at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. When she is not teaching or writing, she enjoys martial arts and yoga.
Warning about Mangos
Mamí had warned me to stop
eating mangos, but I didn’t listen
and blisters grew on my lips; desire
for the sun spread the harvest across
my shoulders, and I lay
covered with newly budded bubbles
waiting to burst, to release
warm fluid across my chin
and down my back.
Abuelita, whose eyebrows, thick
and black with random weeds of gray,
framed by glasses, round and large,
that dipped to the end of her nose
and with a bun on her head, tightly
wound, white and silver frosting,
separated by steel gray swirling
across her scalp into the ball, watched
over with me the summer when sun
and mangos kept me in bed.
Through mesh, canopied across
the bed, protecting me
from further dangers, the room
seemed filled with fog, and I
stared at the mosquitoes
and Palmetto bugs, six-legged winged
warriors on the net, waiting
to attack, waiting for the canopy
to fall, for me to be exposed
with blisters, red, tender and thoughts
of the mangos’soft sweet fruit.
From the bed, into the hot,
translucent air, I trembled
and pulled myself to the hallway
with the concrete rash below
my fingertips, running across
the wall as I followed the powdered scent,
pulling me to her door. Abuelita,
draped in thin, cotton nightdress,
only ankles and arms exposed,
pulled the comb across her scalp
as her hair, dark gray and silver, wrapped
around her back and over her shoulders.
The summer Abuelita stayed with me,
I played in the sun’s heat,
ate too many mangos, and peered
through the sliver of translucent air
when the door let go and fell back.
Mi abuela slid the comb
through soft silver across her breasts,
the breasts Abuelito caressed, that held him close,
the stream that wrapped around his body,
Moncho, the father of her children.
(Pamela Richardson at the Hikmet Poetry Festival)
The scent of aged mahogany
guides me through haloed dust
toward high-back beds stacked
in the corner. Reaching,
my fingers slide across
brown and maroon hues.
The bed, mended,
a smoke-stained two by four,
awkwardly attached with flat, rust
circles, hammered deep. Rough
splintered edges hover
just above the dark metal
spikes, not allowing the broken leg
to go unnoticed.
Another piece leans humbly
with cracks reaching across,
sloping upward from one lover’s head
to the other, ending its journey
just before the end. I think
of the lovers’ pasts as I stand
with armoires that hold my
reflections in glass,
quivering, pale, and fragile.