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Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “Toldos Azules” By Patricia Coral

The Houston poet reads a poem written in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.


Patricia Coral


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In this sound portrait, we meet poet Patricia Coral. She talks about poetry's beauty and emotions, how her writing often inhabits in-between spaces and why poetry is like an X-ray. She reads her poem, "Toldos Azules (Blue Tarps)."

Patricia Coral was born in Puerto Rico, were she obtained an MA in Spanish Literature and Linguistics. She is a writer of creative nonfiction and poetry, but frequently her words find their home in-between. In 2017, she co-founded Fuente Collective, an organization devoted to experimentation, collaboration and hybridity in writing and other arts. Her work is published or forthcoming in Crab Fat Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, Una realidad más amplia / A Larger Reality, Women Poets of the Americas and elsewhere.

Blue tarps covering damaged rooftops in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Toldos Azules

Los toldos azules
no llegan
o llegan
si llegan

Los toldos azules
que no secan las lágrimas
ni calman la espera

no llegan

y a veces


demasiado tarde

Los toldos azules de fema
nunca llegan
a tiempo
para tapar
el vacío
y escondernos
del cielo
para alejarnos
de Dios
y hablarle

Los toldos de fema
llegan y no llegan

después de los techos
y las casas
y la huida
de las familias

después de la lluvia y las inundaciones
y la falta de pan
y de tierra
y de libertad

Llegan los toldos azules de fema
a invadir
el verde de las montañas

para anunciar
cuántas casas quedaron
sin techo
para que podamos ver
las que aún lo tienen

y aprendamos
a contar
la pobreza


Blue Tarps

The blue tarps
Never arrive
Or they arrive
If they arrive

The blue tarps
That cannot dry
The tears
Nor ease the waiting

Do not arrive

And sometimes


Too late

The blue tarps of fema
Never get here
In time
To dress
The void
And shelter us
From heaven
To hide us
From God
So we speak to him less

The tarps of fema
Arrive and do not arrive

After broken
And empty
And the flight
Of families

After the rain and the flood
And the lack of bread
And land
And freedom

The blue tarps of fema arrive
To invade
The greenery of our mountains

To announce
How many houses are left
Without roof
To show us those
That still have theirs

So we can learn
To tally


This poem is reprinted with permission of the author and co-translated in English by Patricia Coral and Layla Al-Bedawi.

Music used: Le Noveau Départ (excerpt) and Automne (excerpt) by Alexandra Stréliski from Inscape and Pianoscope and Mad Rush (excerpt) by Philip Glass from Glassmasters

To learn more about this series, go here.

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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