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:)


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.