Passing Wind at Café de Flore / Pedos en el Café de Flore

I haven’t published in a while and today is Saint Valentine’s day and, well, I feel tempted to share a love poem, even if it is somewhat, how should I put it? … personal.

Five or six summers ago I travelled around Europe with Interrail, visiting friends in every city where I arrived (Paris – Kaliane; Brussels – Leticia in absentia; Rotterdam – Rosa; Berlin – Rieke; Viena – Christian; Verona – Michael).

I was 28 years old and a tad too old for an Interrail, a fact that was duly noted by the kind travelers that I crossed paths with (I tip my hat to you, good sirs and madams), but I didn’t give a damn and I slept in sofas, trains, met lots of characters from the comedy human and divine, visited dozens of museums, partied and feasted, busked on the streets, singing and playing my guitar (at Montmartre and the museum island in Berlin), wrote and took notes like a mad man, lived much and very intensely and, in short, from that experience came this and many other poems of my second poetry book in English (still unpublished, like my first poetry book in Spanish, thanks to the diligent five-year delay of a Spanish editor I do not care to remember, with whom I’ve cancelled my first and last editorial contract).

This poem in question was in the batch I would send years later to the New Yorker (by recommendation of my novelist friend, the brilliant Marian Palaia) and I, poor bilingual Spaniard temporarily emigrated to the Midwest me, would receive what I deemed was a “personal rejection letter” (a unicorn in the professional editorial world) written by Paul Muldoon himself (a fact that I later verified with my wonderful creative writing teacher and writer, Jesse Lee Kercheval, who has published in the New Yorker herself, so as far as we’re concerned, her opinion can be set in stone).

OK, so it was only a personal rejection paragraph. But hell yeah! What a blast…

Years later, the poem is still an orphan (poor little thing), so I’m dusting it off because I always thought it was a good love poem (about a misunderstood and star-crossed love, but true love, at the end of the day) for whomever chose to understand it.

The anecdote around it is peculiar: I was having coffee at Café de Flore, the Parisian bohemian café par excellence, and one of the four good lads (probably all writers) that were sitting in the room, publicly passed wind in the most uninhibited way I have ever heard/seen in my life (the second greatest public fart I have witnessed took place in the piano room of the second floor of Memorial Union in Madison, Wisconsin, but that is another story). The four of us started rolling on the floor with laughter and, from that intestinal absurd, out came this love poem… Enjoy.

—–

Hace tiempo que no publico y es San Valentín y, vaya, me siento tentado a compartir un poema de amor, aunque sea un tanto, ¿cómo decirlo? … personal.

Hace unos cinco o seis veranos hice un viaje por Europa en Interrail, visitando a amigos en cada ciudad donde ponía pie (París – Kaliane; Bruselas – Leticia in absentia; Rotterdam – Rosa; Berlín – Rieke; Viena – Christian; Verona – Michael).

A mis 28 años era ya un poco viejo para un Interrail y así me lo hicieron notar amablemente varios amables viajeros con los que me encontré (chapeau), pero me importó tres pimientos y dormí en sofás y trenes, conocí a muchos personajes de la comedia divina y humana, visité decenas de museos, hubo parrandas y comilonas, toqué y canté y pedí dinero en la calle (en Montmartre, en la isla de los museos de Berlín), escribí y tomé notas como un poseso, viví mucho e intensamente y, en resumen, de ahí salió este y muchos otros poemas de mi segundo libro de poesías en inglés (todavía inédito, como el primero de poesía en español, gracias a los cinco años de diligente retraso de un editor español del que no me quiero acordar y con quien ya cancelé mi primer y último contrato editorial).

Este poema en particular fue uno de los que mandaría años después al New Yorker (por recomendación de mi novelista amiga, la brillante Marian Palaia) y yo, pobre españolito bilingüe temporalmente emigrado al Midwest, recibiría lo que creo fue una “carta de rechazo personal” (un verdadero unicornio en el mundo editorial profesional) del puño y letra de Paul Muldoon (hecho que corroboré con mi estupenda profesora de escritura creativa y poeta, Jesse Lee Kercheval, quien sí ha publicado en el New Yorker, así que su opinión va a misa).

A ver, en realidad fue sólo un párrafo de rechazo. Pero cojones, hell yeah, que alegrón.

Como años después el poema en cuestión sigue huérfanito de editor (el pobre), he pensado desempolvarlo, porque siempre pensé que era un buen poema de amor (amor desventurado y malentendido, pero amor verdadero al fin y al cabo), para quien quiera entenderlo.

La anécdota que lo rodea tiene lo suyo: yo estaba en el Café de Flore, café bohemio parisién por excelencia, y un buen hombre de los cuatro hombres, probablemente escritores, que allí estábamos sentados, se tiró el mayor pedo que yo jamás he visto/oído a nadie tirarse en público (el segundo mayor pedo público que he presenciado en mi vida acaeció en la sala del piano del segundo piso de Memorial Union en Madison, Wisconsin, pero esa es otra historia). Y nos pusimos los cuatro a reír como locos y, de tamaño absurdo intestinal, fui y saqué un poema de amor… Así que nada, disfrutad y amad.

 


 

Passing Wind at Café de Flore

I’m trying to read
Breton’s L’Amour Fou
at Café de Flore
but all I can do

piss fink a bout yum,
yum funkymmoon
dupester of a wilde
hypoena,

sear ye man, wan soddenly,
a scrapener traffs! And fuss, tea pens
in the moon scarred lowfing auch fouls shout,
in Praxis’ boast feignous chaffé…

burp in the side ye fun sombler,
sappened,
cuss wool ye sham shrink a bout
hiss yum an yum purriful vroom geisers

starring magma,
an rat naivt ye dunced asunder
tree furrst snuffall sin Edinburgh
an yum rescorted purr wavether rayson,

purr auch prousterity,
befuzz wee thawt
auch love fould caulst
whorever.

Canción de amor para piano centenario desafinado

Esta semana es una semana especial, ando en un tren para reunirme con la Compañía Hongaresa de Teatro y llevar la dramaturgia “Encendidas” a la Universidad Popular de Logroño (lunes 24 de abril) y a la Sala Ultramar en Valencia (jueves 27 y viernes 28 de abril) y me apetece celebrarlo compartiendo viejas grabaciones… La primera, una musicalización de Quevedo que hice a petición de mi querida amiga Edigator (famosa bloguera, googlead y leed, no tiene desperdicio) y que no publiqué pues porque, bueno, digamos que es un soneto un tanto fuertecillo y malsonante, dicen las malas lenguas que apócrifo, titulado “Desengaño de las mujeres”. La segunda, diametralmente opuesta, es una cancioncilla de amor (algo ñoña) que compuse cuando era joven (y ñoño), a los 19 años, y adapté hace 5 años a un piano desafinadísimo que compré en EE.UU, un Everhart Bros Grand Cabinet Piano de al menos 100 años, y advierto que la calidad de la grabación es más o menos idéntica a la afinación del piano.

//

I’m too tired to translate into English, grab a dictionary and take some Spanish classes people, really 🙂

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