Chelonians

La primavera la sangre (y los versos) altera y ha salido un nuevo número de Zona de Carga/Loading Zone, la revista universitaria de mis amigos literatos de Madison, donde han acogido algunos de mis poemas: dos inéditos y uno que seguramente conoceréis.

Y bien, ¿sabíais que el corazón de una tortuga sigue latiendo horas después de su muerte? ¿Os ha pedido alguien alguna vez que grabéis un mensaje de voz? ¿Os habéis planteado alguna vez todas las cosas, la inmensidad del universo, frente a la absurda contingencia de la vida humana? ¿Queréis practicar vuestro inglés? Pues nada, a leer, a leer.

¿Sabíais que el corazón de una tortuga sigue latiendo horas después de su muerte?

Did you know a turtle’s heart keeps beating hours after the turtle is dead?

Spring makes our hearts (and verses) zing and a new Zona de Carga/Loading Zone number is out, the university mag published by my literary friends in Madison, and they are hosting a few of my poems: two unpublished ones and another you are probably familiar with.

So, did you know a turtle’s heart keeps beating hours after the turtle is dead? Did anyone ever ask you to record and send a voice message? Have you ever considered everything, the universe in its incommensurability, vis-à-vis the absurd contingency of human life? Keep reading…

 

Chelonians

When I was a kid
we used to have turtles

they would disappear
sometimes
to never come back

one day we found
a cemetery
under the washer

where our turtles
dragged themselves

to writhe under the rumble
huddling together with the spin

reptile mouths open
shell pressed against the tiles

hearts thumping
cold blood

I hear them
beckoning

 

Voice on Demand

You love voice messages
or so you say:
I’m going to yoga class
but leave me a voice note,
tell me what you did today.

Today… was an ordinary day.
I woke up and fixed some scrambled eggs
and coffee on my French press,
Ate some past due grapes.
Read the papers.
Applied to one job.
Considered working on my thesis.
Jumped, instead, for half an hour on an elliptical.
Then another half on a static bike.
Dined tuna, rice, salad and a kiwi.
I had a long siesta.

And then you asked me to leave you a voice note,
and I am leaving my voice, right here,
suspended, for you to take.

I wish this was an impressive revelation
of human nature, life, love, death:
many have tried to write
before my time
and failed.

Be satisfied,
this voice on demand
carries on all their mistakes,
the hem and haws,
the many breaths,
the absent speaker,
the void of desire,
a pair of sweaty yoga pants
worn by a sprightly red-head
who is attentively listening
to a silly voice note
and then the laughter of the listener,
the teasing end.

All Things Considered*

            To César Vallejo, inspired by Viola Frey’s “Man and His World” (1994)

Considering || Man and His World made hereof in despair: || that blind clockwork of daylight || its fooled moon in spousal || the truss of seasons that lend support to this emptiness we call time || the shit populating our guts, looming in translation || the plagiarism of faces || abjection || ages || things nondescript steeped in our imagined languages || considering their amorousness || how a language, a nation, a straight-jacket can soothe || how a book can crack open an almond || how an idea can play dead for centuries || how we strangle whom we love || how we die after a wise-tooth extraction. ||

Considering dispassionately || the aftermath of a nuclear bomb observed from a Japanese mountain top on a hiking trip || the minutiae of baking decorations || the controversy of power output vs. forward velocity in bird flight || the invention of love || the impossibility of writing || writing about love, unheeded, Petrarchan, hackneyed || the construction of gender || mops || particle accelerators || the aesthetics of resistance || chaotic enumeration || Whitman || Darío || Neruda || Vallejo || considering the accretion of figments || the blah-blah that would bore both pastures and cows, if they could only understand || the possibility that a Wisconsin pasture may feel it is being ruminated upon || that art and pastures and cows have ways of knowing and feeling that we do not. ||

Considering as pure matter of fact || the uses of contingency || an aunt woken up at 6 am by her nephew and child to assemble the Playmobil Western Fort || a blonde twenty-year old serving macadamia nut ice-cream on a beach-stand || a Mormon tween showing his father’s 9 mm Browning to his host-brothers || a young man pulling his back out lifting a chaise-longue || a young woman fainting while she drives to work || a young man relapsing, burning heroin with his college girlfriend on a steel spoon || a young man informed he has lung cancer || broccoli is a bouquet || a young woman informed she has brain cancer || pecans are flowers || a young man found dead from an overdose in his Las Vegas apartment || all fruits are ripened ovaries || why children love anything that glows in the dark and books of 1,000 questions and answers. ||

* This poem was written for the Bridge Poetry Series reading, November 13, 2014 at the Chazen Museum, in response to the exhibition The Human Condition: The Stephen and Pamela Hootkin Collection of Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture

http://www.zonadecarga.com/es/actual.html

 

 

Breves versos magiares

Hace poco salía publicado Hongaresa. 20 años en las fronteras magníficas del vino, una recopilación de obras, ensayos y miscelánea que celebra el sueño de una noche de verano que tuvieron hace 20 años sus fundadores, Paco Zarzoso, Lola López y Lluisa Cunillé. En ese libro aparecen poemas que escritores amigos compartieron en las celebraciones del XX aniversario en Valencia y Barcelona, contando todo lo que la Hongaresa había supuesto en sus vidas. Y yo, como sobrino político/carnal de la compañía, también recibí el encargo de escribir unos versos húngaros/magiares de ocasión, versos que comparto hoy con vosotros, aún calientes de la prensa.
//
The book Hongaresa. 20 years in the wondrous frontiers of wine was published recentlya compilation of theatre works, essays and miscellanea that celebrates the midsummer night’s dream that its founders, Paco Zarzoso, Lola López and Lluisa Cunillé had 20 years ago. The book includes poems that writerly friends shared in the XXth anniversary celebrations in Valencia and Barcelona, relating everything that Hongaresa has meant in their lives. And since I am political nephew (and nephew by bloodline of the founders) of the company I was also tasked with writing these Hungarian/Magyar verses for the occasion, verses that I am sharing today with you, warm from the press.

Breves versos magiares

Es síntoma de nuestro tiempo que, hace poco,
me recordara K.B., una escritora polaca,
de cuyo hijo soy tutor de español
en la ciudad del medio-oeste estadounidense
donde estudio un doctorado sobre cultura argentina…

en parte al hablarle yo
de mis viajes, desgracias y angustias,
que no vienen aquí a propósito,
y en parte a propósito
de una última clase de español
para su hijo de trece años, Félix,
en la que hablamos del tiempo futuro
y que aproveché para explicar
la diferencia que hace Derrida
entre el futuro (cerrado y previsible)
y el devenir (abierto a todo lo posible)…

que al tiempo devorador de hombres (Kronos)
se le opone el tiempo dador de oportunidades (Kairos)
que todo nos acaba perdonando:

es a ese tiempo dador y magnánimo,
abierto y por venir, al que pertenecen
los muy denostados poemas de ocasión
y estos breves versos magiares.

Cuando le pregunté a Félix
la importancia de dicha distinción
me dijo que, ciertamente, era importante,
especialmente para Derrida,
puesto que su modo de vida dependía
del poder filosofar sobre tales distinciones;

y ambos nos partimos de risa,
pensando en qué fin del mundo
más torpe nos había tocado vivir.

Veinte años son nada pero yo, mal que bien,
fui devorado, pasé de ser niño,
—como lo es Félix— a hombre
en estos veinte años que hoy celebra
Hongaresa Teatre:
me hice músico —algo epicúreo y tarambana—
y poeta —más serio y fingidor—,
¿qué puedo decir?, el alma se serena.

No hubiera sido lo mismo
crecer poeta en un pueblo del metal,
sense la tristesa de l’Hongaresa
y más aún, sin ellos,
quizá no hubiera sido,
not at all.

Umbral, Cocodrilo, Ilusionistas,
María La Jabalina (que no alcancé
a ver, pero sí a leer), Hilvanando Cielos,
Aquel aire infinito, Salón Primavera
han sido marcadores en mis lecturas
y en las distintas etapas de mi vida:
infancia, juventud, adolescencia,
trastierra y retorno, de momento.

Hoy, en estos versos de ocasión, un poco libres,
porque no merecen menos estos húngaros rebeldes,
les deseo poco Kronos y mucho Kairos:
quizá vivamos hoy en el tiempo inflexible de Kronos,
el reino del capital y la dictadura del cuerpo,
pero habitaremos, ahora y siempre,
fofos, etéreos y arruinados,
junto a estos teatreros magiares,
en las mercedes de Kairos.

Traveling Poems / Poemas viajeros

Just found out today that, thanks to my “Scottish” pal Iskandar (whose name is one of the many names of Alexander the Great, in case you were wondering), a fragment of one of my poems in English is being published in Uzbekistan, as part of a book for English learners, with activities and all… how cool is that? Read it below 🙂 (Oh, and I reached 20,000 plays on SoundCloud:)

Acabo de enterarme hoy de que, gracias a mi amigo “escocés” Iskandar (cuyo nombre es uno de los muchos nombres de Alejandro el Grande, por si os lo estabais preguntando), el fragmento de uno de mis poemas en inglés se va a publicar en Uzbekistán, como parte de un libro para estudiantes de inglés, con actividades y todo… ¿qué guay, no? Lo podéis leer aquí 🙂 (Ah, y ya tengo 20,000 plays en SoundCloud:)

Hatching

To Borges and Nabokov

Let’s assume from the start a poem can never be a butterfly. After all, butterflies, especially the kind we adored as children, are kooky insects, with lurid wings, of itty-bitty size, whose only purpose in life is to grow, reproduce and die. They are useless. Of little consequence beyond their interaction in an ecosystem or the admiration they inspire in us. Nobody buys the butterfly effect: the flutter of a butterfly bears no relation to a tornado unleashed at the other side of the world. Saying otherwise is nonsense. Consequently, we think: a poem is a poem, a butterfly a butterfly, a snail is…

Well, snails are sly little creatures. Hermaphrodites. After copulating they rip their own phallus and penetrate themselves to avoid being impregnated in turn. Butterflies, it turns out, are rather conventional in comparison. Anyway: a poem couldn’t possibly be a butterfly. After a brief glance at any book anyone can gather that poems, today, are unique artificial graphematic constructions that distance themselves from their author and, through conspicuous language, try to come to terms in meaningful ways with all dimensions of human life, with great pleasure of readers, and they even rhyme, sometimes. It’s ludicrous to point out they are the opposite of what a butterfly should be for, ultimately, butterflies are only of aesthetic value if they are alive and whenever a butterfly dies, naturally stabbed by a pin, it always causes a little unrest in the most unfeeling of hearts. It then becomes an object of scientific value or, at worst, something of great interest to occasional admirers of lifeless butterflies. Over time it so happens that not even lacquer can prevent its frail body from turning into dust.

On the other hand, there is empirical proof that poems are of greatest aesthetic value if they behave like one of those famed Scots who lent themselves, by virtue of ideals, to be disemboweled alive by the English: always with great resistance and never uttering a single cry… Men who would pass out in pain and, eventually, away, but whose implied screeches should still bring joy to all of us and, while the progenitors of these brave souls are almost never to be found, when found they are dumbfounded with prose and put to sleep. Or, better still, shut out, starved to death, piled up, layered and fossilized until they become dark lunar stones some human beings still burn in atavistic rituals meant to keep their limbs warm, without fear of subversion this time around. Besides, the skirt of a Scotsman is nothing like a butterfly…

Moreover, it is well known, male butterflies are more colorful than their female counterparts. Females prefer males with bright iridescent ornamentation [1]. All of which amounts to the innocent fact that a female butterfly landing on a certain leaf of a willow tree, at dawn, will have an entirely different take on a male than another butterfly that happens to land on the trunk of the same tree, at dusk. Quite similarly, those of us who assume the possibility of access to beauty; those who think beauty can only be seized from one leaf; those who deny the existence of beauty, the butterfly or the leaf; and particularly those desperate ones, trapped in the trunk of their car who want us to believe that, whenever they please, they can hack their way out with theory shards have all deeply misunderstood the true nature of poems and butterflies.

And we can already anticipate one inevitable conclusion to such an affair: death. For most people end up becoming traitors to themselves. Children who, after trapping a butterfly, cry when they realize it will never fly away, but take comfort in the fascinating glitter of wing-dust stuck to their palms. Once the insect dies they are off to trap another one, and another, and another more. They are nothing similar and, at the same time, so much like female butterflies who forever seek what is lost whenever they change the position from which they look at the butterfly they love.

In short, a poem could never be mistaken for a butterfly, so why have you fluttered all along those delicate wings that lead the way to your lurid, iridescent, human eyes? Didn’t you realize this is a snail?

[1] J. Kemp, Darrell. “Female butterflies prefer males bearing bright iridescent ornamentation.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 274.1613 (2007) 1043-1047.