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Portuguese Say Love

My mom was born in Portugal

Under the sunny skies of a Catholic dictatorship

Her dad was a holy roller preacher with a vision of heaven

But a Baptist, so the whole family caught hell


Had the strength of his convictions

To get him through the beatings and evictions


Had four sisters and two brothers

Who had to share their father’s beefs

And  protect her from all others


But there was no protection from pops and all his rules

No dancing

No radios

No music

No way his kids would be the devil’s tools


So when my mom turned eighteen in Waco, Texas

She was in a hurry to leave the nest and find out what she did best

She married a man who looked a lot like me


World War Two came

My dad went off to fight the Japanese

He came back on V-J Day

And on V-J night

I was conceived




Amore portugues


Portuguese say love


Today parents hate and fear their kids

When I was in jail

My mom came right down with the love and the bail

It was just a few days for this or for that

Nothing major like a tit for a tat

But I was scared and she was there to meet me

To greet me

To make sure they couldn’t defeat me




Amore portugues


Portuguese say love


The bullring in Faro, Portugal

Is filled with people

Its dusty center

Usually the site of bullfights with their death and blood

Now holds a stage

A short blonde woman from Santa Monica

Is talkin’ square biz to ya baby


Teena Marie

Lady Tee


Vanilla Child

Her hair moves with the beat

And the gentle breeze from the Gulf of Cadiz


The show is almost over

The crowd is roaring

What will the encore be?

What can the encore be?

Only one song can end the evening

Only one song can take it even higher

The crowd knows it

Cause they chose it

With their birth, with their very conception


“Portuguese Love”


But the night won’t end just yet

It’s the remix version

Long and loud

Soft and sensuous

The song is raw sex and pure love

Teena’s coming

She’s going

She’s swimming

She’s flowing

The saxophone is in a frenzy

The crowd moves as one

As one plus one equals one

Like no time since Portugal almost won the World Cup in 1966

Finally the band is limp

Like the aftermath of love

A spasm--the saxophone plays the hook:

“Portuguese Say Love”

All is quiet

Another spasm--the piano plays the hook:

“Portuguese Say Love”

Teena Marie is spent

Her white dress soaked in sweat

The bullring returns to its natural state

A life and death struggle for survival


Teena summons her last ounce of strength

And begins to talk in tongues

Singing in her Teena-only Portuguese Spanglish


The drummer drops his sticks

Too heavy, nothing left

The saxophone and the piano embrace

They can go no further

Teena blesses them with a caress


It’s over


I’m so glad my mom created me

Where I could grow up with Teena Marie


Vanilla Child

Our beloved Lady Tee




Amore portugues



Portuguese say love


Poem / 2007

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