Editors: Martin Mitchell, Willie Perdomo, Flรกvia Rocha, Jeet Thayil & Edwin Torres International Poetry Editor: Marilyn Hacker Fiction Editor: Alan Cheuse Music Editor: Derek Beres (courtesy of Global Rhythm Magazine) Senior Editor: Lorna Blake Design: Edwin Torres Publisher: Ram Devineni
contents Contributing Editors:
Dana Gioia, James Ragan, Michael Hulse, Khaled Mattawa, Regie Cabico, Yerra Sugarman, Philip Norton, Todd Swift, Ron Price, Haale, Pascale Petit, Robert Minhinnick, Larry Jaffe, Margo Berdeshevsky, Lloyd Robson, William Pitt Root & Fred Johnston.
532 La Guardia Place, Suite 353, New York, NY 10012 212-560-7459 / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.rattapallax.com Copyright © 2003 by Rattapallax Press / LCCN: 98-87633 / ISSN: 1521-2483 All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction, unless for review. Distributed by Ingram Periodicals, Bernhard DeBoer, Armadillo & Co. and Ubiquity. Cover: Havana Cigar in a Chevy; Back-cover: MC Solaar: The Rapper's Baudelaire?; Page 1: Havana Chevy Legs; Page 86: Child from Another Continent, Maybe Even Another Real. All photos by Margo Berdeshevsky © 2003. Page 40: photo ; Page 45: Arch. Artwork used with permission from Atul Dodiya.
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DIDAC P. LAGARRIGA ...... 57 LUCIANA SOUZA / FLÁVIA ROCHA ...... 60 JEFFREY LEVINE ...... 61 KATE LIGHT ...... 61 DEENA LINETT ...... 62
6 ...... SÉRGIO ALCIDES
7 ...... KAZIM ALI 8 ...... JESSICA ANTHONY 17 ...... GREG A. NICHOLL 18 ...... JOSELY VIANNA BAPTISTA 20 ...... ROBIN BECKER 21 ...... ANNE BERKELEY 21 ...... MARLO BESTER-SPROUL 22 ...... ASIAN MASSIVE / DEREK BERES 26 ...... PAULO HENRIQUES BRITTO 28 ...... KURT BROWN 28 ...... CLAUDIA CARLSON 29 ...... DAVID CAZDEN 29 ...... MARY CORNISH 30 ...... ALBERT FLYNN De SILVER 31 ...... VINNI MARIE D’AMBROSIO 33 ...... DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN 35 ...... PATRICK DONNELLY 36 ...... JOHN DUFRESNE 38 ...... LYNELL EDWARDS 38 ...... RHINA P. ESPAILLAT 38 ...... LESLEIGH FORSYTH 38 ...... DOUGLAS GOETSCH 39 ...... VERONICA GOLOS 40 ...... GUJARAT RIOT / JEET THAYIL 49 ...... RICARDO RIZZO 50 ...... KIMIKO HAHN 50 ...... JEFFREY HARRISON 51 ...... LOIS MARIE HARROD 51 ...... AMY HOLMAN 52 ...... CYNTHIA MARIE HOFFMAN 53 ...... NICHOLAS JOHNSON 53 ...... ANDREW KAUFMAN 54 ...... VÉNUS KHOURY-GHATA 55 ...... MEG KEARNEY 55 ...... CAITLIN KIMBALL 55 ...... SYBIL KOLLAR 56 ...... KATALIN LADIK 56 ...... GABRIELLE LeMAY
CLAIRE MALROUX ...... 63
CONCETTINA McCAULEY ...... 64 PANSY MAURER-ALVAREZ ...... 65 ALBERTO MARTINS ...... 66 NANCY MERCADO ...... 68 AMY MILLER ...... 69 SAMUEL MENASHE ...... 69 BEN MILLER ...... 70 ROBERT MORGAN ...... 74 DANIEL THOMAS MORAN ...... 74 MICHAEL MORICAL ...... 75 JON MOOALLEM ...... 75 NOISE FESTIVAL / LISA GREENAWAY ...... 76 EUGENE OSTASHEVSKY ...... 80 PEG PEOPLES ...... 81 THADDEUS RUTKOWSKI ...... 82 CAROLINE SINAVAIANA ...... 83 JASON SCHNEIDERMAN ...... 84 ELAINE SEXTON ...... 84 OWEN SHEERS ...... 85 LINDA PASTAN ...... 85 MC SOLAAR / MARGO BERDESHEVSKY ...... 86 MARY AUSTIN SPEAKER ...... 93 CHRIS STROFFOLINO ...... 94 MARIA TERRONE ...... 95 PAMELA USCHUK ...... 96 DEBORAH WARREN ...... 96 RACHEL WETZSTEON ...... 97 BARON WORMSER ...... 98 RYAN G. VAN CLEAVE ...... 98 ANDREW VARNON ...... 99 MICHAEL T. YOUNG ...... 99 MATVEI YANKELEVICH ...... 100 HERIBERTO YEPEZ ...... 102 CONTRIBUTORS.......106
1. MC SOLAAR / Lève-toi et Rap (3:29)
(1) MC Solaar “Lève-toi et Rap.” Produced by MC Solaar and DJ Sampler for Powerfull. Published by Sentinel Sud. (p) 2000 Sentinel Sud. Courtesy of Sentinel Sud and MC Solaar. www.solaarsystem.net
18. KAZIM ALI / Fifth Life (2:41)*
(16) “Afloat, Immigrant Martyr Elect” performed by Bombay Down. Poem & spoken word: Jeet Thayil; vocals: Senti Toy; ubertar: Paul Rubenstein. All rights reserved. (17) MIDIval PunditZ, "Air" 6:41. Composed by Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj. Published by Six Degrees Beats Publishing (BMI). (p) 2002 Six Degrees Records, Ltd. Courtesy of Six Degrees Records. www.sixdegreesrecords.com
MC Solaar “Concubine De L’Hemoglobine” Music: Christopher Viguier; Paroles: MC Solaar. © BMG Music Publishing France; © Fair and Square.
19. ELAINE SEXTON / Estate Sale (1:18)
2. ANNE WALDMAN and PAVLA JONSSONOVA / Verses for the New Amazing Grace (2:10)
20. MATVEI YANKELEVICH / 3. THADDEUS RUTKOWSKI / Midpoint (0:58)*
from "Pictures of Another Life" (4:41)*
21. VÉNUS KHOURY-GHATA /
4. LUCIANA SOUZA / Sonnet (1:53)
The rabbi, the priest and the imam (1:23)
5. CLAIRE MALROUX / Libellule (2:27)
22. MARILYN HACKER / 6. MARILYN HACKER / Damselfly by Claire Malroux (2:18)
Translation of “The rabbi, the priest and the imam" (1:20)
7. JOCA REINERS TERRON / Teonanacatl (1:40)
WORK FROM THE 2003 NOISE FESTIVAL
8. ROBERT CREELEY AND COURAGE /
23. LIZ HARRISON / Jump (1:53)
Days the Weather Sits (1:10)
24. WILLOH / Sound of Soft (2:00)
9. JOHN KINSELLA / Seed Ethics (4:50)
25. RED WOOD WORD (BEN DENHAM) /
10. JOY HARJO / Woman Hanging from the Thirteen Floor (5:11)
Knowledge Raiders (2:24)
11. ROBIN BECKER / Description (1:47)
26. JUSTIN HEAZLEWOOD (THE BEDROOM PHILOSOPHER) / Happy Cow (2:34)
12. LUCIANA SOUZA / Chega de Saudade (4:02)
27. ALANA HICKS / Brother Tried Hard (0:55)
13. RHINA P. ESPAILLAT / Cycles (0:51)
28. CAMERON TEA /
14. KARSH KALE / Dirty Fellow (4:47)
You Can be the Sh*t Eater (1:10)
15. MEENA ALEXANDER / Bengali Market (3:12) 29. ROBERT CREELEY AND COURAGE / 16. JEET THAYIL / Afloat, Immigrant Martyr Elect (2:48)
Despite the Sad Vagaries (3:34)
17. MIDIVAL PUNDITZ / Air (6:41)
30. EDWIN TORRES / BePower (2:35)
(2) “Verses For The New Amazing Grace” read by Anne Waldman and Pavla Jonssonova at the Sanalan Poetics Festival, Prague, May 11-18, 2003.
(20) “Pictures of Another Life,” violin by Anna Moschovakis* (23) “Jump” performed and composed by Liz Harrison and Sean Thomas, engineered by Sean Thomas, produced by Liz Harrison and Sean Thomas, June 2003. All rights reserved.
(4) Luciana Souza’s “Sonnet” from The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and other Songs album courtesy of Sunnyside Records © 2000. Luciana Souza & George Schuller: produced; Chris Cheek: tenor & soprano saxes; Bruce Barth: piano; John Lockwood: bass; Marlon Browden: drums & percussion; Luciana Souza: voice; compositions & arrangements; Elizabeth Bishop: words. Additional information at http://www.lucianasouza.com. All rights reserved.
(24) “Sound of Soft” music composed and performed by Topher Morrey and Simon Rosenberg, produced and recorded by Sipher, November 2002. All rights reserved. (25)“Knowledge Raiders” recorded and produced by Ben Denham, March 2003. All rights reserved.
(8, 29) The Way Out is Via the Door © 2002 482 Music. Selections appear courtesy of 482 Music. Courage with Robert Creeley; John Mills: reeds, keyboards; Steve Swallow: bass; Chris Massey: drums; Robert Creeley: voice; music: Courage; words: Robert Creeley. Recorded at the Make Believe Ballroom, West Shokan, NY, and the One World Theater, Austin, TX. Produced by Chris Massey. All rights reserved.
(26) “Happy Cow” recorded and produced by Jim Trail at Triple J studios, Dickson, ACT May 2002. All rights reserved. (27) “Brother Tried Hard” recorded by Cinamon at 2SER Sydney, May 2003. All rights reserved. (28) “You can be the Sh*t Eater” engineered by David D. Reilly, produced by Cameron Tea, June 2003. All rights reserved.
(10) Joy Harjo’s “Woman Hanging from the Thirteen Floor” from Native Joy courtesy of Mekko Productions, Inc. © 2003 (new mix). All rights reserved.
noise festival CD: Richard Watts, Artistic Director, Express Media, publishers of Voiceworks Magazine.
(12) Luciana Souza’s “Chega de Saudade” from North and South album courtesy of Sunnyside Records © 2003. Luciana Souza: produced; Edward Simon: piano; Scott Colley: acoustic bass; Clarence Penn: drums; Luciana Souza: voice and words. Additional information at http://www.lucianasouza.com. All rights reserved.
(30) “BePower” from novo album courtesy of ooze.bâp © 2003, “BePower” music & production by Un Caddie Renversé Dans L’Herbe (aka Didac P. Lagarriga), vocals recorded at See-It-InSound, NYC, engineered by Fred Stesney. Additional information at www.oozebap.org. All rights reserved. *Indicates tracks recorded at See-It-In-Sound, NYC, engineered by Fred Stesney; produced by Edwin Torres.
(14) "Dirty Fellow" 4:47. Written and performed by Karsh Kale. Published by Six Degrees Beats Publishing (BMI). (p) 2003 Six Degrees Records, Ltd. Courtesy of Six Degrees Records. www.sixdegreesrecords.com
Translated from the Portuguese by Flávia Rocha
Sou do mundo, como todos os santos. Minha medida não é pé-direito de apartamento nem coluna de templo.
I’m from the world, like all saints. My measure is not the apartment’s ceiling, or the temple’s column.
words unspool too quickly and too easily from the mouth
Prefiro cinema. Praça. Palace. Praia.
I prefer the pictures. Square. Palace. Beach.
journey from hand to action
Não conheço controle remoto que nos redima de amassar o pão de cada dia e apertar a mão da meia-noite.
I haven’t heard of a remote control that will redeem us from kneading every day’s bread, and from shaking midnight’s hand.
is the length of eye to window
Não vejo augúrio no vôo invisível do pássaro preto que bombardeia o deserto.
I see no anguish in the dark bird’s invisible flight, that bombards the desert.
the window is weeping
Não vejo espírito algum no vento — é dele o meu rosto, a ele todo o louvor.
I see no spirit in the wind — my face is his face, for him the prayers.
... but I’m here, not-here, mine, and empty …
and after I said it after it fell from the window
water runs to its own level the sea finds a way in
after it turned down the bed of history turned down the ocean road
and rain — NO BOTEQUIM
IN THE BOTEQUIM
Oiti, oiti, tenho raízes fincadas em ti.
Oiti, oiti, My roots dig in you.
Estou no meio-fio. Arrebento a calçada junto contigo.
I’m at the curb. I break the sidewalk with you.
Se chover, corro às marquises. Se não, sou levado pela mão à brisa da vida.
If it rains, I run under a marquee. If it doesn’t, I’m carried away by life’s blowing hand.
É ainda o Rio. Há sempre uma vitrine acesa que mostra o preço caro do perdido.
It’s still Rio. Always a lit store window showing expensive lost things.
Há sempre um verão abafado, uma sombra de oiti que não arreda o pé, uma folha seca que estala passo a passo.
Always the stifling summer, an oiti’s shadow that doesn’t leave, a dry leaf that crackles at each step.
A mancha que deixo agora na orla da xícara, o Rio deixou em mim, oiti.
The stain I now leave in the cup’s rim, Rio left in me, oiti.
Translator’s Note: Botequim: Small, cozy bar, opened all day, where customers can order simple drinks and food over the counter. 6
far enough down the road dune grasses, sea-birds the other days in another life
silence, the rain is looking for you … window, spit it out —
I did not say it and in a different life in my third life I did not even think it
… and after the storm came in, broke the dishes we found the wound, there, deep, and where it’s always been …
light sparkling from the water remember what you are:
you in your “otherwise life” never renounced the desires
heat and sand and human breath —
in my fourth life angels in my fifth life windows
the silvery storm will tire you out listen, pet, just lie down until you remember
DISEASES OF THE HEART AND LARGER VESSELS
... fever, syphilis and trauma up to fifty percent. Not to mention obesity.” “I don’t think obesity’s my problem,” I said. “In some alcoholic beverages,” he said, “particularly beer, specific contaminants such as cobalt have been
SALUS POPULI SUPREMA LEX ESTO.
indicted as the cause of myocardial damage.”
(Let the welfare of the people be the extreme law.)
“Even beer is bad?” I said.
— Missouri State Motto
He nodded. I liked the way he talked. It sounded like he was speaking some kind of foreign language. I’ve always thought
rom space, one can locate Missouri anywhere between thirty-six to forty degrees North and eighty-nine to
ninety-five degrees West, if one knows one’s latitudes and longitudes. Closing in on the stratosphere, focusing one’s vision like a pair of binoculars, one would note that the total area of Missouri is 69,674 square miles and
the altitude can get as high as 1,772 feet. A view from an airplane would bring out the prairies, the sharp ridges of the Ozarks and the flat bottomlands that run half-soaked along the rivers like a swamp draining. One would see quite a lot about our state from that viewpoint. Except the Missouri sky, of course. One would need to be standing in Missouri for
French was the sexiest language, but you think French is sexy, listen to cardiology. We stood there for awhile, him going on about diseases, me listening to him go on about diseases, until a song came on that I liked: “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline. That is one helluva good song. I know it word for word. So I started singing it really loud, right there at the bar. Richard looked on, without expression. When the song finished, he pressed his glass to his chin and he said, “Are you really a lonely person?” “No,” I said.
that. Looking up.
“You sing it like you are,” he said. “Lonely. And depression is murder on the heart.”
My husband Richard and I live in a small town called Misery. It’s the oldest of all old jokes when we tell
“I’m not depressed,” I said, and I meant it. I took his hand. We went to the dance floor. We slow-danced to
people where we live. They say, hilariously, “You live in Misery?”Actually, I think Misery is a pretty nice place to live. We are fifty miles northeast of Kansas City, near the Grand River and Chillicothe. We have a pottery museum and a vintage
songs like “How Deep Is Your Love,” and “Love Me Tender,” and “The Greatest Love of All.” “I like your boots,” he said, in my ear.
Twenties cinema. We have a school and two parks and five bars. There is also a meatpacking plant in Misery, along with
“Speak it,” I said, in his ear.
a tobacco plant and an automobile plant. Misery makes, one could say, pigs, smokes and wheels.
“One of the following criteria is required for the diagnosis of right ventricular failure …”
This is the Midwest.
Sandrine shot me a jealous look.
Richard is a cardiologist. I am a housewife. I’m a dozen years younger than Richard. We met almost six years
A few weeks later, Richard was lying in bed and I put on a little red number I picked up at a boutique. Then I
ago at Chunky Ramone’s, the only bar in Misery with a jukebox and a dartboard. I was wearing a pink dress with pink sequins and pink boots with spiked heels and tassels down the front. I had consumed several vodka tonics that evening and was feeling brave and amorous. Richard leaned on the bar with one elbow, calmly sipping a frozen concentrated
asked him to explain how one goes about detecting heart disease. He said, “With techniques like electrocardiography, phonocardiography and echocardiography. It’s pretty basic stuff.” We were engaged the next morning.
orange juice. He was there for the country music, wearing a tan suit and a thin brown tie that looked way out of place.
~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~
I don’t know what he was feeling. I was with my girlfriend, Sandrine, who I don’t see so much anymore. Sandrine and I used to go to Kansas City, shopping for a doctor who would marry us and take us out of Misery. Sandrine was always the bigger hit: she was large and curvy, and talked about her hair and nails. Sandrine ate many eggs and shone like a mirror in the sun. She hung out with me because I was no mirror. I am, and always have been, not only onion thin but narrow as an alley at twilight. I’m not a good dancer. When the music starts, my arms go up and my legs go out. And yet, Richard was watching me dance. I danced until I thought I was too sweaty to be attractive, so there wouldn’t be any question whether he was interested in me or Sandrine. Then I moseyed up to the bar and ordered another drink.
didn’t mind that Richard’s job was in Misery because we moved to a new neighborhood, which is kind of like
moving to a new town. Richard worked regular hours at the hospital, and we decided to try and make babies. It was fun. Kinky. A grand year passed. Richard continued to dazzle me with his vernacular. I continued to dazzle him with
my little red number. Then a few months ago I came upon a book in the den called Diseases of the Heart and Great Vessels. I turned to page one. As I read the first paragraph, I knew that I’d been had. Richard had memorized the entire thing. It just hit me that those weren’t his words after all; they were somebody else’s. So I began to try and pick apart the times when Richard was speaking with his own voice, but since just about all we ever did was talk about his work, I realized that any kind of genuine conversation we ever had was pretty darn thin.
“That will kill you,” he said. “What are you,” I said, hopeful, “some kind of doctor?” He nodded. “Drinking will pulverize your heart. People talk about the liver, but it’s the heart where the real damage is done. That,” he said, pointing to my delicious vodka, “will increase your chances of hypertension, rheumatic
I told myself, “So Richard can’t communicate with people.” Big deal. I don’t take him to parties. But now I’m realizing that it’s more than that; there isn’t a helluva lot that he does outside of being a cardiologist. We do not go hiking in the Ozarks like other people. We do not go swimming in the hot springs. We didn’t even take a honeymoon. “Why spend money on transit,” Richard said, “when we can do the exact same thing right here?” 9
... Okay, there’s one thing that we do. We play miniature golf. My husband loves it when the clown’s nose lights up when you get a hole in one. Once he putted a hole in one wearing a blindfold. He was so happy, he bought a cowboy hat to wear like John Wayne and wears it all the time now. Even to work. But that’s about it. That’s what we do: play golf, and not do things. This is a marriage. Now Richard has pretty much lost interest in talking to me that way and I’ve lost interest in hearing it. Now Richard spends a lot of time on the phone. At night I can hear him in the den saying things like, “In the older age group left ventricle failure is usually preceded by cardiomegaly.” Richard speaks quick and soft and low. Sometimes I become irrationally jealous. Ridiculous, isn’t it? To be jealous of words. My neighbor Charity feels bad for me. She says that I was gypped: that he should have told me he didn’t like to do anything but fix hearts and play golf. Charity is nearly forty, has two kids and no wrinkles. She is giving me special creams.
... heel and tassels down the front. Richard looks at them. “You wore those boots when we met,” he says. The light changes. “Charity mentioned something about a promotion,” I say. “Do you know anything about that?” “They’re giving it to Markus.” “How do you know?” “He’s an expert at infective myocarditis.” “What’s that?” “Lesions,” he says, “that occur with infectious diseases of bacterial, fungal or parasitic origin. And he’s just an expert at it. There’s no way I could have gotten the promotion.” I twist my hair up and then let it fall to my shoulders. The words no longer sound foreign; they just sound old. I’m pretty sure that my husband won’t start saying funny things like “holy biscuits,” but I do wish that he would say something positive for once. He could say anything, even something as cliché as “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” and that would
“Use this now,” she says, “while you’ve got those young pores.” Today we are at the mini-golf place with our husbands. We are passing on this game because the men want to play each other. They are on Hole Six: Toad Holding Umbrella. You have to get the ball around the toad, through the umbrella and into a pink flowerpot.
be good enough for me. But I’m realizing that it is not my husband’s job to see beautiful things; he is so preoccupied with hunting for diseases. “Charity is drinking a lot these days,” I say. “So are some other people I know,” says Richard, and shoots me a look. He’s talking about this one night a few
“Here honey,” she says, passing me a flask of So-Co. “Shoot to score.” I’m glad to have met Charity and her husband, Markus. Markus is also a cardiologist, but you wouldn’t think so by talking to him. Markus says things like, “holy biscuits,” and “crapola.” Markus also goes white water rafting and bungee jumping. Every year Markus takes the family to Atlantic City because Markus loves the Skeeball. Markus doesn’t work with my husband, but he and Richard know about each other from being in the same field. Markus is six feet four with black hair. Richard is five eleven with brown hair. Both men wear glasses, but not the same kind. Richard’s glasses are as thick as ice.
weeks ago, after a party at Markus and Charity’s house. I had downed a few handfuls of gin punch and demonstrated, quite freely, how my tiny little bod could fit through the open frame of a tennis racket to a group of impressed cardiologists. Not all of the cardiologists were impressed, however. Richard looked, quite honestly, disgusted. Richard only drinks under moments of intense rigor. “Honey,” I say, “maybe if you didn’t sound so technical all the time, people might respond better to you.” Richard doesn’t say anything after that. At home, we brush our teeth and get into bed. We have a very large bed in a very large bedroom in a very large house. A cardiologist makes, you guessed it, a very comfortable living. I have
Now Charity is talking about how all Markus can talk about is getting this big promotion. She says there’s an open slot in the city for Chief Cardiologist or something, and Markus is all gung ho about it. “That’s funny,” I say. “Richard hasn’t said anything about a promotion.” “Hmm,” says Charity.
a nursing certificate, but I don’t work because we are waiting for a baby to happen and I don’t see the point in pursuing a career that will end as soon as I am pregnant. We’ve been waiting a long time. Richard wants us to visit a baby specialist, but I can’t bear the thought of programming it all and listening to the baby specialist’s technical jargon on top of Richard’s technical jargon.
“Dang!” shouts Richard. He just missed the flowerpot. ~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~ We drive home in silence. Richard lost the game. The trees of Misery fly past the car door window. Richard squints at the traffic light ahead and steps hard on the brakes.
The bed warms with us in it. “I think you should go for the promotion,” I say. “Is infective myocarditis really all that hard to learn? You could show them, you know.” Richard rubs his eyes. “Markus has it,” he says, and flips over. He shifts back and forth for a moment to align his spine for sleep. Aligning the spine allows for maximum blood flow through the vessels. I rub his back. “Do you want
“The light is yellow, Richard,” I say.
to try for it tonight?” I say. He doesn’t answer. I take that as a “no.” I reach over to turn out his light. It is one of those
We drive a Grand Am. When we were out shopping for cars, Richard said, “Plenty of leg room is crucial for a
arching lights that hang low over your pillow and shines really bright in your eye.
healthy heart. It keeps the posture in the correct position, which allows for maximum blood flow through the vessels.”
“Doesn’t that bother you?” I say.
Richard has excellent posture. Richard has excellent posture, hearing, coordination and natural grace. He also has,
however, faulty vision.
I pull the chain. I lie in the dark and listen to the click of the electric thermostat. We have this thermostat in
“I know,” he says. He places his hand on my thigh. I am wearing jeans and those pink boots with the spiked
the house that makes the place the perfect temperature at any given time. At any given time, our house is sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit.
... “Any news?” she says, and looks at my belly. My belly is concave, like the inside of a spoon. I shake my head.
The phone rings. “I’ll get it downstairs,” Richard says. He stands up quickly and feels his way through the dark of the bedroom.
“Your time will come,” she says. The rocket starts spinning and steam pours out the butt of it. “Isn’t that a hoot?” says
I turn the light back on again. He continues groping. “Here we are,” he says to the door, and runs down the hallway. I sit
Charity. “I never get tired of watching that kettle.” She pours us two mugs. It’s strange to be drinking hot tea on such a
up in bed and listen.
warm day. I’m wearing a sundress that I found in the back of the closet to make up for last night with Richard. When I
“… which is the area of ischemic necrosis,” my husband says, “infarction of the heart may vary from focal and
put it on this morning, he smiled at me and pecked me on the cheek. “You look nice,” he said. “Thanks,” I said, thinking, “I’m a stick in a bag with armholes. Sexy.”
minute to diffuse and massive …”
We bring our tea to the patio to monitor the kids. Owen is neck deep with two large green inflatable turtles
It’s at the point where I don’t even mind the language so much anymore.
attached to his arms. Annie is doing laps and diving from the diving board. Standing on top of the board, her
It’s the distance. ~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~
stomach heaves in and out. She sticks it out as far as she can, then sucks it back in again and rubs with both hands. It starts that early.
he next morning, Charity calls. She knows that I’m in the middle of my bikercize, but she’s caught a cold and
“How is Richard?” says Charity.
wants me to come over and help with the kids. Charity and Markus live just around the corner from us, in a
“Richard is fine.”
house that is the same style as mine and Richard’s house. We live in a development. It’s the oldest one in the
“Still on the phone a lot?” she says.
county. We have full-grown trees. It’s named “Whispering Maple Court,” but none of the trees are maple. Charity
“He is,” I say.
and Markus bought the first house here nearly fifteen years ago, on the basis that there would be no dead end
Now Owen’s turtles are discarded at the side of the pool and both kids are frogging it underwater. It’s a race to
streets. And none were built. Instead, the builders built the streets into squares, like a real city, and named the streets,
see who can get to the other side. Charity seizes the opportunity, and brings out the flask from under her robe. She takes
for some peculiar reason, after colleges in the Northeast. I live between Brown and Haverford. Charity is between
a long swig. The children surface. “You know sweetie,” she says, “Markus really isn’t on the phone that much at all. Most of his work is done at
Dartmouth and Yale. Maybe it’s a Missouri thing. There are a lot of towns in Missouri that are named after other towns, or even
the hospital. Oh, occasionally he’ll get a phone call. But not every day — not nearly.”
whole countries. We have a Paris, Melbourne, Mexico, Cairo, Carthage, Iberia and Lebanon. We have a Normandy. We
“What do you mean?” I say.
have a Warsaw. We have an Odessa. We even have a Beverly Hills and a Hollywood. But I don’t know anyone who lives
“I mean Markus doesn’t work like Richard, I have to say.”
there. When I get to Charity and Markus’ place, the lady of the house appears in a large blue terrycloth robe, swabbing
“Richard is a hard worker.”
her nose with a handful of tissues and holding a silver flask with white-knuckled fingers.
“Two cardiologists,” says Charity, shaking her head. “Do you know why I fell in love with Markus?” “Why?”
“Thanks so much,” she says. “Damn these superintendent conferences. Children are getting no education
“Because he was so drunk he fell off a barstool.”
We laugh. We both know that Markus does not drink anymore. Anything at all. Now Markus thinks that the
Charity’s kids are named Owen and Annie. Owen is four and Annie is eight. Owen likes swimming and astronomy. Annie likes horses and video games. Although it is early May, the children are swimming out back in the
body is a temple. I accept the flask from Charity. I pour So-Co into my skinny little temple.
pool. Today is unseasonably warm. ~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~
“Isn’t today unseasonably warm?” says Charity. “It’s why I’ve got this damn cold.” We head to the kitchen. Their kitchen is big with lots of windows. It is shaped exactly like our kitchen, except Charity and Markus’ kitchen came with a pantry and we are pantry-less. Charity has water going for tea. The kettle has a tiny rocket that circles the base, sending steam out the back end like smoke. “Markus offered to stay home,” she says, “but I told him to forget it. He’s got too much at stake with this promotion business. And now, with the kids’ college educations tied up in the house, it would be awfully nice not to have to sell it.”
ichard comes home this evening in a fit. I’m in the television room, watching a program about these tiny red
crabs that are born in the forest and then run to the ocean to grow. They run together, billions of them, in one long pack. The baby crabs have followed this path for thousands of years. When they are on the move, it looks
like a red carpet is sliding across the earth. But now they have to cross two wide roads that were not there a thousand
“Absolutely,” I say.
years ago, or even a decade ago. They run in such large numbers to ensure that some of them will survive. The rest will
Charity tightens the robe around her waist. She has a small belly that rounds out underneath the string. She
be squashed by all-terrain vehicles.
is in just terrific shape. Curvy. Womany.
Richard drops his briefcase on the floor and it pops open, sending paperwork everywhere. He is slamming
doors and opening cabinets. He is looking for something.
~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~
“What are you looking for?” I say. “Nothing,” he says, and heads towards the bathroom. The Tylenol bottles shake like maracas. “What happened?” I say, and open the door to the bathroom. Richard is leaning against the sink, slurping water from the faucet. “Markus got the promotion.”
he cop made Richard take a visit to the doctor to check his faulty vision. On a Saturday too, the only day Richard
stays home from the office. Usually I go out and run errands to give him some quiet time. But I put the errands on hold today. Today I sit at home. I bikercize. I buy some firewood over the telephone. I read my book on
getting pregnant. The book is called Let’s Get Pregnant! There’s a chapter that explains positions. They say that it is
important for women to try many positions to maximize chances. In the chapter, there are drawings of women in all
“It’s no surprise,” he says, gruffly.
these acrobatic arrangements around men. I decide to try one. I get up on the counter of the island in our kitchen and
This is a moment of intense rigor. I become Mother Hen. I take Richard into the television room. I tell him to calm down.
consult the book. “Left arm goes up,” the book says. “The other goes down. Twist the torso, left knee over right thigh. Pretend you are climbing a rope.” I’m bewildered. I’ve never climbed a rope in my life.
“Calm down, Richard. You’re wound up. I’ll bring you a drink.” I bring him a whiskey with two ice cubes. Then someone’s at the door.
The phone rings. I jump off the counter, and leave the rope dangling. “Hello?” I say.
“Who’s at the door?” he says.
“Is Dickie there?”
“You stay here,” I say. “I’ll go see.”
It’s a woman. “Who’s Dickie?” I say.
There are lights flashing outside the house. It’s a cop. A large cop. My brother, Kevin, is a policeman here in Misery, so I pretty much know all the guys on the force. But I don’t recognize this guy. I don’t recognize the way he wears the blue uniform and silver badge: stiff. Polished. A ball-breaker. “Good evening, officer,” I say. “What can I do for you?” “Is that your car, ma’am?” he says.
She hangs up. I hold the phone in my hand for a minute, then I call the operator. The woman’s phone number goes back to Richard’s hospital. A nurse answers. I hang up, and tap the phone with my finger. Maybe I’m overreacting. I just didn’t know that they called him “Dickie,” that’s all. Let’s Get Pregnant! goes back on the shelf. I call Charity. “Dickie?” she says, when I give her the scenario.
I look beyond him into the street. Richard has parked the car in the dead center of the road. “Oh dear,” I say. “I’m so sorry. We’ll move it right away.” “Is everything okay, ma’am?”
“Yeah,” I say. “Weird,” she says. “I know.” I chew my bottom lip. “So Markus never gets phone calls late at night?”
Up close, the cop has one of those rotten, chiseled faces. A sharp nose, square jaw and tiny little eyes. I’ll-fitting; like somebody tried to put the parts of a Picasso back where they think they belong. “Absolutely,” I say. “My husband’s had a bad day, that’s all. It’s nothing. We’ll move the car.” “I’d like to speak with him for a moment.”
“Never,” says Charity. “But now that he got the big promotion, maybe that will change.” “Maybe,” I say. When Richard comes back from the doctor, I’m lying across the couch in the television room, not watching a John Wayne movie.
I lead the cop into the television room. Richard hasn’t touched the drink. The cop stands in front of Richard with his cap still on and looks him over. Richard stands up and shakes the cop’s hand. “My brother is a cop,” I say, uselessly. “Do you know Kevin?” The men stare at me.
“What are you watching?” he says, then, “Oh, I know this one.” Richard fingers his John Wayne hat and stares at the screen. “There’s something I need to tell you,” he says. “What?” I say. “The doctor said that my eyes are experiencing a severe increase in intraocular pressure.”
“I’ll be out in a minute,” Richard says, and closes the door to the den. I pick up the keys from the kitchen counter and go to the car. It looks kind of funny, parked like that in the middle of the road. I get in. There are looks from the neighbors. The lights are still on from the cop car, and the street looks like a disco. Charity and Markus’s house is dark. They’re out tonight, very likely celebrating Markus’ big promotion.
I stare at him with my mouth closed. I’m waiting for him to explain what in the hell he is talking about. “The nerve cells are dying off. He told me that it’s only going to get worse. Blindness, he said, is ‘a veritable certainty.’” I stare at him with my mouth open. The electric thermostat clicks. Horses gallop across the television screen. There’s a close-up of John Wayne clucking at a lady, his eyes as narrow as the edge of dimes.
I pull the car into the drive. I put my hands on top of the steering wheel like Richard does. I pretend that I am Richard for a moment. I pretend that I am talking to a patient. “The asymmetry of the aortic valves means possible ventricular
~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~
blockage,” I say. It’s nonsense, but there I am anyway, in a white coat, a stethoscope hanging around my neck like a snake. I put my hand on my patient’s shoulder. “Your heart,” I sadly inform them, “is really fucked up.” 14
hat night I’m lying in bed, listening to Richard’s cardiology coming from the den. He’s been down there for
makes me cry harder. Charity sends everybody back to
almost two hours. Shadows from the tree outside our window reflect on the wall of our bedroom. I sit up and
bed and brings me her flask. I gulp it down, and wait
count the branches. I’m thinking about what the blindness will mean to our plans. I wonder now, more than
for the room to change color.
ever, if Richard will do things with the kid. I’ll have to be the eyes for the both of us. I’ll have to explain what the colors
Charity nods, and gives me one of her cotton
working. Suddenly, I’m projecting: it’s a year from now. There we are with a fresh baby, selling the house and moving
nightgowns. “You’ll be okay,” she says. She takes my
out of Misery to a scrappy little town south of the Missouri River where I am using my nursing certificate and living in
hand. She sits with me until I fall asleep. I dream about
a trailer that does not come with an electric thermostat that always keeps the house at sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. It
the tiny red crabs. They are taking over the planet. The
is late summer. Richard is slumped in a chair at the kitchen table wearing sunglasses and not saying anything. The hot
earth is so red it could be Mars. Then the red earth
transforms before my eyes into a gigantic, pulsing
I throw back the covers and get out of bed to do something about this. I’m going to get Richard off the phone.
heart. The heart beats so fast it looks like the left and
But instead of going to the den, I find myself going to the kitchen, where we have the other phone. It’s a white wallphone
right ventricles are racing each other. I reach for it. I
that came with the house. I pick it up slowly and listen.
want to touch it, to see what it feels like, but when I
“Malfunction of intracardic prothesis may be due to a paravalvular leak,” Richard says.
Beyond the house, past the tool shed, a boy swings, staring down the forest path bordered with thimbleberry and rosehips.
“I’m going to Paris,” I say, loudly.
are, where the milk is and what time it is. He will no longer be allowed to drive. I wonder if he’ll be able to continue
He pumps his legs to reach higher — toes extended, head thrown back, to push the limits of the rusty chains. Behind him, his brothers piece together slabs of plywood lifted from a nearby construction site — sheets bent in a collapsed arc and nailed to a flimsy frame — just strong enough to hold the weight of skateboards as they pass from one side to the other.
do, it stops completely. ‹~›
“Yes,” a woman says. “Deterioration in the poppet portion of the prosthesis,” Richard says. “Uh-huh,” she says.
On these nights, he enjoys being close to his brothers and reaches higher trying to stretch above the trees and beyond the lighthouse on the cliff before they are called to bed.
“Formation of a thrombus,” he says. “In and out of the prosthesis.” “Again, Dickie,” she says. “In and out of the prosthesis,” he says. “Yes,” she says. “Oh my God, yes.” This isn’t happening. I hang up, and do not linger with my hand on the phone. Instead I run. I run upstairs and put on clothes and run downstairs and run out the door. I run my eyes over the neighborhood: a thousand dark windows that all look the same. The night air hits. This is happening. Now, in a flicker, I could go anywhere. I’ve been to all these Missouri towns with the names of other towns, but I’ve never seen the genuine article. Now I could go to Paris. I try to project about Paris, but I can’t because I don’t know the first thing about Paris. It’s troubling; I don’t know the first thing about Paris, and I know too much about Missouri. As I pass them, the streetlights in our development light up with a tiny PING sound. It’s for safety. The Missouri state flower is the hawthorn. PING. The state bird is the bluebird. PING. The state song is “The Missouri Waltz” and the state nickname is “The Show Me State.” PING. We were the twenty-fourth state to be admitted into the Union. PING. Our average annual temperature is fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. PING. Our average annual precipitation is about forty inches and heaviest in May or June. PING. Today is May seventh. The forecast says rain. I knock on Charity and Markus’ door. A light goes on. I wake everybody up, bawling. Charity holds me in her robe. Markus says everybody knows about Richard’s blindness. It’s why he didn’t get the big promotion. I ask Markus if everyone calls Richard “Dickie.” “I don’t,” he says. Charity sets me up in the living room, on the pullout couch. Owen and Annie bring me a glass of milk. That
GREG A. NICHOLL
JOSELY VIANNA BAPTISTA
Translated from the Portuguese by Chris Daniels
IMAGENS DO MUNDO FLUTUANTE
IMAGES OF THE FLOATING WORLD
Um vento anima os panos e as cortinas oscilam,
A água mede o tempo em reflexos vítreos. Mudez
Water marks time in hyaline reflections. Muteness of clepsydras, on the canopy they rise (angels hanging in a baroque house); in the presence of absences time swells. Breasts in profile, sleep rocks the hammock, bellflower bowed by rain.
A wind quickens cloth and curtains quiver, linen pillowslip (sleep), rough and friable; the sun strolls through the house (the sleeping face) and, in glazing, light draws white braids on the mirror, tarnished clocks, drying peels their curling vaults, rippling panes on the floor, twines. Golden filaments link high and low
fronhas de linho (sono) áspero quebradiço; o sol de clepsidras, no sobrecéu ascendem (como anjos suspensos numa casa barroca), e em presença de ausências o tempo
passeia a casa (o rosto adormecido), e em velatura a luz vai desenhando as coisas: tranças brancas no espelho, relógios deslustrados, cascas apodrecendo em seus volteios curvos, vidros ao rés do chão reverberando, réstias.
se distende. Uns seios de perfil, sono embalando a rede, campânula encurvada pelas águas da
Anamorphic folds on the invisible horizon; sidling shadows; the matter of mind.
Filamentos dourados unem o alto e o baixo
— invisible horizon, embrace on the pale riverbed: other bodies’ velamen in amorous memory.
— horizonte invisível, abraço em leito alvo: velame de outros corpos na memória amorosa.
No horizonte invisível, dobras de anamorfoses; sombras que se insinuam, a matéria mental.
Cobre se refletindo a ouro-fio nos olhos:
Copper reflecting its golden section before the eyes: without cloth or rigging, the mobiles stir, boats adrift, random (deserted), river within (on the iridescing bed), neither oar nor sail in the wind. They row midriver, downriver, at the farthest reach (dream) — surface.
Lúcido pergaminho, pele argêntea, de prata
(Velâmens, em camadas, evoluem no ar.)
Translucent vellum, skin argenteous, silver (amnion, placenta), in aerial roots. Vernix caseosa, polish of the enclosed petal: bracts open (tunic) and unfasten: philanders, nervures in wild placidity-flower and event that unfolds into flower. (Stratified sails evolve in the air.)
A gravidez sem peso dos pecíolos no limbo.
The weightless gravidity of petioles in limbo.
sem pano nem cordame, os móbiles oscilam, barcos sem rumo, a esmo (desertos), rio adentro (no leito cambiante), sem remo ou vela ao vento. Vogam no entremeio, rio afora, no linde (os sonhos) — superfície. Nuvens e água, pênseis, a ouro-fio nos olhos.
Cloud and water: pensile golden section before the eyes. Shrouds invert, sheets course the riverbeds: the boats, their sheets, their shrouds.
Inverso de mortalha, os lençóis correm em álveos: os barcos têm velâmens.
(bolsa d’água, placenta), nas raízes aéreas. A cera e a polidez da pétala encoberta: brácteas que se abrem (túnica) e desabrocham: filandras e nervuras na placidez selvagem — flor e acontecimento que se desdobra em flor.
NOTES: These four short poems take as their basic subject a trip in the Amazon Basin, where there are no roads and all travelling is done by boat. The poems have nothing to do with the Japanese Floating World, but:
Imagens do mundo flutuante was part of the exhibition “Ruminantes” by the Brazilian sculptor Eliane Prolik, at the Museu Alfredo Andersen, Curitiba, and at Galeria Valú Ória, São Paulo, in 1998. The section entitled Velum was dedicated to the Brazilian artist Jeanete Musatti, in response to her encaustics on canvas from the exhibition “Objetos e pinturas” (Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, 1999). The poem was first published in the literary journal Inimigo Rumor (Rio de Janeiro, 1999).
Bellflower bowing in the rain: the Portuguese reads “encurvada pelas águas da chuva”, “curved by the rain’s water.” I was worried because my rendering seemed to introduce an image of Asian courtesy into the poem, but it delighted the poet. Cera (wax) is a colloquial term for vernix caseosa.
ANNE BERKELEY DESCRIPTION
A CONNEMARA KEEPSAKE
How many words for glisten, sparkle, glitter, glister? How many ways to convey the shimmer and glitter on the bay, the dazzle of faceted
A simple disc. Cool, polished weight. Flecks of splintered seaweed, a blade of carbon from unpeopled time before songs and betrayals and lost loves.
(for Carolyn) The cream breast of the hawk glides overhead. Titmice scatter seeds by the coal bin. O lay me down in the sleep of the dead. In Pennsylvania hills, developers steal in.
glass incoming with the tide? A crystalline vessel of red motion, shape of a kayak, skims the light-mottled surface; the sailor retrieves
Titmice scatter seeds by the coal bin. We skied to a field where new houses rose. In Pennsylvania hills, developers steal in; on rural roads the farms foreclose.
a runaway rowboat, his yellow life vest burning in the glare. Now he’s sitting in the watertight opening, tying one craft to another, as I am tying
We skied to a field where new houses rose on the phantom fence row where creatures hid. Along rural roads the farms foreclose, and land goes for the highest bid.
his dappled excursion to my own purposes, to my pleasure in the reticulated shapes that dapple the hour. The swells
On the phantom fence row where creatures hid you cursed the bulldozer and the company men. Where land goes for the highest bid you count bear and deer among your kin.
The rocking chair and the land swinging from the silver bowl on my knees … ours. I am eight, and we are deadheading green beans like flowers. We’re separating the corn from their papery shells and searching the milk-white floss for teeth.
These last years, my fingertips have played pitfalls, caves of light — the grey and green freckled metamorphic grain indivisible, except by sudden stress like fire then ice, or dropping from a height, or being driven over by iron-shod hooves.
We are unfurling the crisp red ribbon of the apples with the clean edge of a blade, for we are harvesting so much there, in that other world. Since then, unpredictable things have hatched and like snakes they have struck at the soft, exposed places.
Just touching it can’t rub out the trace of the kiss before you handed it to me. Shifting of the earth has tempered it. Innocent, it slips into my pocket.
But there, the road still lies unpaved. Just beyond the bend of our vision, mental glints
compose a mosaic I read by analogy: breaker to anvil, froth to bullion, crest to shield. Now a Viking story swarms
and I see your shadow in the distance. You’re waving your hat, I’m squinting into the eye of the sun and the hayfields are on fire.
MARLO BESTER-SPROUL You cursed the bulldozer and the company men. An owl hoots to her mate across the pines. You count bear and deer among your kin. The Great Horned ignores all boundary lines. An owl hoots to her mate across the pines. You split your wood and stack it by the shed. The Great Horned ignores all boundary lines and claims the winter sky instead. You split your wood and stack it by the shed, pine-tar the skis and leave them on the porch. The owl takes a crow, leaves feathers where it bled. The cream breast of the hawk flies overhead.
troughs into helmets, into the fittings we saw in the Oslo museum, the delicate ship displayed
like a large animal in a small room, walls scarcely tall enough for the mast, vessel starting to drift in its mooring, evoking the dark
Back then it was dirt. The width of two tires and the length of the far pasture, it brought such little traffic that cows raised bells, dogs barked
harbor where halyards clanked and docks creaked, the boats so close to one another we heard the whispers of those who slept on the sea.
and strangers came shrouded in great clouds of dust. Grandmother, I remember your hands in your apron and the screen door slamming like a shot. Anything was possible; the land, the orchard, the ramshackle cabin, the vaulted trees and the blue dome of the mountains … were ours. That land that left overalls threadbare, that creased necks with sweat and the soil of our ancestors … was ours.
THE HISTORY OF THE FUTURE OF MUSIC: EXPLORING THE ASIAN MASSIVE By Derek Beres Music goes by many names: universal, inclusive, global, eternal. As long as humans have graced earth music has graced us, as if separation were a cruel illusion. Our entire life process is a sound, be it the steady thump of the heart, meditative rising of lungs, or sharp patter of these fingers propelling metal into thought. It is the quickest, most honest way of learning about others: music is beyond the confines of mind, and as has been well documented, the mind of humankind is earth’s greatest danger. Within the realm of sound, many forms exist, some ancient, all developed from our attempts at touching something “other” than us. The battle over electronic music’s “validity” as a musical form is beyond a moot point. This mind birthed the idea of music, and so we have mimicked materially: hands in conjunction with thought stripping trees bare, excavating and isolating metals, plying percussion with animal hide. The heartbeat may have been the first rhythm, but we have gone to great lengths to ensure its survival in external forms. If it makes you dance, it’s music; cry, music; push you to the extremities and forward, settle you into your skin, or do nothing at all but melt, the effects are different but the source the same. Most importantly, music is a uniting process. It melds disparate elements into a firm mold. The sonic plaster emerging from the shell surpasses anything flesh can divide. Right now an uncontested melding is occurring, as nomadic citizenry circulates the globe. The unfamiliar East works itself into the abundant West, and vice-versa half a world away. As we learn from/about each other, the meeting point is aural. Our ears are now teaching what our eyes have failed to do. 22
Karsh Kale coined the term “Asian Massive” to differentiate America’s sonic fusion of Indian sounds with modern electronica from that of the UK, already a decade + old, otherwise known as “Asian Underground.” Culturally displaced South Asians found solace in their oppressor’s homeland: the British, long making use of Indian territory and natives in their social makeup, continually bombarded residents with picturesque images of white world, much the same as Americans had done for centuries with African natives (and whoever else didn’t fit the majority criteria). There are many sides to every story, certainly, but what matters here is the silent minority needed a voice to represent their torn fraction. Taking what was originally theirs — the classical instrumentation of India, such as the sitar, sarod, tablas, and Hindi/Urdu lyrics — and layering them into punk — and rockinspired digital beats, the “Underground” hit a nerve with UK youths, not only of South Asian descent, but of all seeking out a new culture to get down with. Just as bhangra (Punjabi folk bent on sampling everything it can get its hands on) has recently found its way to American shores thanks to Panjabi MC (originally spliced into a Jay-Z cut), over a decade removed from the initial British invasion, so the Massive has been formulating their own aural revolution. This one, however, is not centralized, as the UK scene had been. Karsh Kale, a DJ/producer/drummer/tabla player, resides in Brooklyn; Cheb i Sabbah, an Algerian native and elder of the tribe, calls San Fran home; the MIDIval PunditZ (duo Tapan Raj and Gaurav Raina) hail from Delhi. While this triune comprises the original Massive
— as featured on the first Asian Massive bi-coastal tour late 2002 — numerous other collaborators, friends, and cohorts figure in: New York DJs Zakhm (Atul Ohri), Rekha (of Basement Bhangra fame), Siraiki (Vivek Bald, whose Mutiny documentary was recently completed, highlighting 7 years of UK study of the scene), Bill Laswell (creating Tabla Beat Science, featuring Kale as well as India’s greatest classical musicians of modernity, tabla player Zakir Hussain and sarangi player Ustad Sultan Khan). Background need not apply to this equation, only an endearing, driven vision of the future, which is here right now. In sum: it’s a family affair, but this unit is so diversely nuclear the only bombs dropped are sonic. “On its own, without hearing the music, it doesn’t mean anything; especially two words like ‘Asian’ and ‘Massive,’ which neither are very specific,” Kale says, the Manhattan skyline distant from his Park Slope loft. His latest album, Liberation (Six Degrees Records), dropped in June and he has since been diehard, touring and promoting internationally. On July 6 his band, Realize Live, played alongside euro-DJ Paul Okenfold at a packed Hollywood Bowl, marking the largest audience to date (10,000+) any AM member has played for. The interweaving of vocalists Falguni Shah and Vishal Vaid among the solid rock/electronica live base filled the arena, seductively entrancing the crowd awaiting house music. With his debut Realize, Kale brought strong naturalism into digital; with Liberation, he accomplished the opposite. His live set further blends the elements, keyboardist Sam Godin handling laptop control while simultaneously creating heady synths to boot. Kale’s precision on drums and tabla — the two-drum Indian percussion played with 10 fingers — proved his placement as leader of this (r)evolution. Let that be the writer’s error, however: no one person can carry such a movement alone. It took a solid 10,000 years for us to reach this point, and AM is just another sprocket in the Spacely. But their importance cannot be undermined — think of how America has gone AllThings-India: yoga, Bollywood, bhangra, matching Ganesha slippers for him and her, flights of Gita fancy with Krishna quotes pasted on restaurant walls and greet-
ing cards. The cerebral West has overanalyzed itself to boredom and needs a reboot to clean out the rubbish. Homegrown Indian philosophies (Hinduism, Buddhism, the main components) don’t offer freedom, but they serve as powerful maps of how to get there. Unfortunately meditating yogis flying on clouds won’t help the cause, but exposure will, and while every musician involved has their reasons for creating their music, a common factor persists: the creation of the modern human, one who, if they don’t agree or even like the global aspect, has no choice but to be involved. “If you look at the yoga of sound — that’s what it is — we try to find that perfect note or that perfect sound that drops all the worries,” says Sabbah. “It takes practice. You could take years practicing one raga and then you hit that right note. Well, when you hit that right note, you’ll know it and the listener will know it because the listener will also hit that right note. It’s not just you that hits the right note and you’re so great and blah blah. No, the point is that the listener also gets it when the right note is hit. That’s what makes you be aware that there is something divine about music; there is something that crosses the border and is universal and all that. If the universe was created with sound, then it’s all there. We have to go to the source: what is that sound.” Of course, we can’t describe the sound; that would miss the point. But his latest, Krishna Lila (Six Degrees Records) — not counting his DJ mix release, As Far As — hits a bulls-eye. Traveling through India, recording the best Carnatic and Hindustani players in the country (classical Indian music has long been divided into two, by geography; while both perform rags, the differences are subtle though immediately recognizable by musicians, who rarely, up until now, were proficient in both), Sabbah dedicated the album to the wily blue god infamous for assuming human form to leave philosophical meditations. A collection of bhajans (devotional prayers), layers of drum-and-bass and tasty, succulent downtempo beats underscore hypnotically mesmerizing sarangis, sarodes and sitars, Kale’s tabla, bassist extraordinaire Bill Laswell’s vexing pulsations. To date, it is the closest to classical modernity has come in its infusion, and for good reason. With roots in 1965 Paris as DJ, Sabbah has seen the globe
expertly and is bringing the best of best to the plate. “The first time I ever heard Indian music I was about 14 or 15,” says Bill Laswell, whose name is credited on some monstrous 1000+ albums as bassist and producer, “and I had already started listening to rock music and everything else that was more easily accessible. Somehow I had managed to get a ticket to a (sitar player) Ravi Shankar concert, which featured (tabla player) Allah Rakha and some other drone instruments. At that time there was a lot of psychedelic music in rock, people were using effects and distortion as ways to affect sound. On the way to the concert someone spiked me with LSD; I had never been on acid before. When I got to the concert it started to come into perspective [laughs].” “That music has an inherent drone and a pretty intense rhythm, and became incredibly psychedelic. My memory of first hearing it was that this was the greatest psychedelic music I’ve ever heard. I was immediately attracted to just hearing more without realizing what the effect of that event was. That’s how I was initiated; I got a kind of enhanced version. Even now, when we play with Zakir, I still remember that kind of intensity and that phase, that psychedelic experience.” Two paragraphs ago we used the word “monstrous” to describe Laswell’s uniquely intense bass playing. Crank up Tala Matrix (Axiom/Palm), Tabla Beat Science’s first release, to five and you’ll know why. Turn it to 10 and you’ll be initiated yourself. Formed by Laswell to bridge musical gaps between India and America, he recruited aforementioned musicians Hussain, Khan, Kale, alongside the likes of Asian Underground mastermind Talvin Singh and percussion madman Trilok Gurtu. “I believe technology is not a neutral force, it’s consistently arriving from the future; we’re not in control of it as much as we think we are,” he would later tell me, and one listen to Tala Matrix proves his point — it’s like Close Encounters with a Fourth Kind because he got tired of seeing with only three. His infatuation is a growing commonality in America. There is something immediately recognizable in Indian music, distinct yet reminiscent of something our country has never had … a deep sense of culture, perhaps? The rhythms work in a 16-beat cycle and do not adhere to
the 4/4 cadence of the West, bringing it truer to the dayto-day. Qawwali, Pakistan’s devotional song form (made international by the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), moves like life itself. Never confined by verse-chorus-verse format, though still using certainly melodies as a return to base, the vocalists/musicians hit highs and lows, depths and heights, within the span of a 20-minute journey. In our compartmentalized society it’s almost as if we need division: love song here, heartbreak there, overcoming in that, submission in this. This sense of separation is much different than the qawwals: their music is based on the fact we are separate from the divine, and nothing will bring us back except complete and total surrender. And in the testosterone-dominated West, surrender is the ugliest of words, for we have no sense of grace within our daily structures. As much as we remain unconscious of it, however, life seeks balance. To return slightly, it is the mind that differentiates. The world already is balanced, our judgments tear apart what was together. Our quest, sonic or otherwise, into India is a long overdue sojourn in the process of completing ourselves as human beings. At large, we are far more sedentary than nomadic, and with wi-fi connections there’s little reason to leave home; that is, of course, unless you actually want to see the world. Regardless, no longer need we depend on mistranslated importations by scholars and politicians; we can plug in and travel direct. As with any media, every opinion contains bias, but the fact we can share alternative views opens us to further possibilities. The East/West/inner/outer/material/spiritual dichotomy of yesteryear is crumbling. We need a new religion to lay a foundation solid enough for this crowd. Sedentary, yes, but curiosity remains an unavoidable human quality, and for good reason. Artists introduce new theories into existence; that is, they evolve us. Marketing and advertising (the reason you find out about a select few musicians while so many go unnoticed) was not created first; a product needed to be in hand before capitalists feasted. The recording industry is only about 70 years old, as a vehicle of mass consumption; music, slightly older. “Our three-minute songs are not part
of tradition or culture, it's part of a manipulation of business,” Laswell continues. The idea of a “radio mix” is a disturbing reality, and while labels argue “It’s what the people want,” we must understand the translation: it’s what sells because it’s their most widespread option. The idea of listening to an hour+ rag may not appeal to large audiences, but who said it had to? The problem with mass music is the same as mass yoga; it’s designed as an exchange between master and student, a few pupils at most. Wanting to control and sell — that is, “dumbing down to reach the masses” — may lead some to a more beneficial meditation on the arts, but the idea-atlarge is ludicrous. How many of our greatest moments are spent alone, wrapped in the shelter of headphones and bed, drifting into an imaginary wonderland with the sounds so unspeakably dear to us? We all share our love for such moments. The Asian Massive need not be exploited but explored, experienced not philosophized. I can type until fingers turn blue and never grace the eardrums as sweetly as the music we speak of. East has built West and viceversa; in fact, no duality exists, only a manner of approach. Far too long have we crept like sallow strangers searching for an exotic fix. Behind the music, religion and dress of others reside people no different, reacting by their own cultural confines but at root of the same soil. These musicians are plowing new fields with recycled nutrients, the fruit sweet to all. “Music erases borders, and that’s something we need to feel right now,” Kale says. “These borders being emphasized now by world leaders are not the issue — the issue is looking at each other and understanding there’s something here that needs to be preserved, and it’s not what they’re talking about. That’s what music has the power to do; it can let us look at each other and not think ‘Well I’m an American and you’re from this place, or I’m an Indian and you’re a Pakistani.’” ‹~›
SIDEBAR Experience yourself: Check out these sites online to hear the Asian Massive. AsianMassive.com — The starting point for the movement, featuring tour dates, releases and whereabouts. ChebiSabbah.com — San Fran-based DJ extraordinaire. DidJital.com — Covering the LA scene. DubStream.com — Classic NY party/visual homebase, restarting Fall 2003. EthnoTechno.com — The planet’s first resource in hearing the music, featuring unreleased remixes and tracks by numerous global electronica artists. Falgunis.com — Realize Live vocalist Falguni Shah. GlobeSonic.com — DJ troupe leading the pack in global beats. KarshKale.com — Tabla player/DJ/drummer/ producer leading the AM charge. KrishnaDas.com — America’s kirtan commander. MutinySounds.com — NYC’s top South Asian parties, Basement Bhangra and Mutiny. Navdeep.com — One of NY’s premier DJs on the scene. Punditz.com — Delhi’s ambassadors of South Asian swing. SixDegreesRecords.com — San Fran-based label releasing today’s top AM (as well as many other) artists. TablaBeatScience.com — Supergroup featuring Kale, Bill Laswell, Zakir Hussain and Ustad Sultan Khan. Tablatronic.com — Hitting the D.C. vibes strong.
PAULO HENRIQUES BRITTO
Translated from the Portuguese by Cristiana Ferraz Coimbra and Idra Novey
No trivial do sanduíche a morte aguarda.
Death waits in the insignificance of a custard. In the remote darkness of the fridge, a loose dream slumbers next to the mustard.
O hábito de estar aqui agora
The habit of being here now slowly replaces the compulsion of being somebody or something all the time.
The hour is sluggish. The house sleeps unabridged. All night something click-clicks — a beetle? The pineapple reigns over the figs,
Um belo dia — por algum motivo
smelling splendid, shedding thistles. The moon clocks out and is gone. The bricks are black just the same, and still.
de pêssegos em calda, ou mesmo um livro
The freezer rumbles, but the hour hasn’t come. If there were a cat, he’d be some sort of gray. Death takes its time. Night lingers on.
É necessário? Não. Será possível?
Na esquiva escuridão da geladeira dorme a sono solto, imersa em mostarda. A hora é lerda. A casa sonha. A noite inteira algo cricrila sem parar — insetos? O abacaxi impera na fruteira, recende esplêndido, desperdiçando espetos. A lua bate o ponto e vai-se embora. Mesmo os ladrilhos ficam todos pretos. A geladeira treme. Mas ainda não é hora. Se houvesse um gato, ele seria pardo. A morte ainda demora. O dia tarda.
aos poucos substitui a compulsão de ser o tempo todo alguém ou algo.
One fine day — for some reason the sun is always out on these occasions you open a window, or a can
é sempre dia claro nesses casos — você abre a janela, ou abre um pote
of cling peaches, or even a book that will never be read through and then the idea bursts, clear-cut:
que nunca há de ser lido até o fim e então a idéia irrompe, clara e nítida:
Is it necessary? No. Will it be possible? Not likely. Will it at least give pleasure? Is it pleasure, this blind demand
De modo algum. Ao menos dá prazer? Será prazer essa exigência cega a latejar na mente o tempo todo?
constantly throbbing in one’s mind? Why then? And in this very instant you finally understand, and stretch out
Então por quê? E neste exato instante TROMPE L ’OEIL
TROMPE L ’OEIL
Os fracassos todos de uma existência,
All the failures of an existence, when meticulously compiled, and observing a certain coherence, look like a kind of pyramid — monumental — yet somewhat truncated,
você por fim entende, e refestela-se a valer nessa poltrona, a mais cômoda
quando cuidadosamente empilhados, observada uma certa coerência, parecem uma espécie de pirâmide monumental — ainda que truncada, talvez — desde que olhados à distância
Perdi o dia, mas ganhei o mundo.
in this armchair, the most comfortable in the house, and think, with no regret: I’ve lost the day, but gained the world.
(Mesmo que seja por trinta segundos.)
(Even if only for thirty-five seconds.)
da casa, e pensa sem rancor:
maybe — once seen from a distance at the precise moment when the sun, descending, reaches it, forming an angle whose exact degree is obtained based on the ... but no, it's more sphinx
no momento preciso em que os atinge o sol do entardecer, formando um ângulo cujo valor exato se obtém com base no ... mas não, é mais esfinge que pirâmide, sim, pensando bem —
than pyramid, yes, on second thought — I'd say more a stylized sphinx, barely suggested, as suited to a monument, or cenotaph, to nothingness.
quer dizer, uma esfinge estilizada, sugerida apenas, como convém a um monumento, ou cenotáfio, ao nada.
CLAUDIA CARLSON REDECORATING Maybe this is the way youth dies. And maybe it’s why I always come back to you Peddling these various colored flames To your tall cool shadow that always retreats from The Lonely, by Helen Z. Carlson, 1961
All over the country in closets, basements, attics, tucked away in bottom drawers, stowed in boxes under beds in every household, every block, skin cracked like old formica, eyes flawed, liver-spotted hands bubbling like old film, in every state, every town, reels of family moments, graduations, proms, sporting events, the baby on his tricycle, the young bride, mouth smeared with cake, the man pitching horseshoes, sleeves rolled, laughing, determined, someone’s father waving from the curb, various cats and dogs, the turkey dinner, the big surprise when someone enters, the shouting, all in silence, blurred grainy hand-held figures bouncing back and forth, focus waning, the ray of light, like a spear, splitting the frame, its tiny nova, cut to Christmas, cut to beaches, cut to puppies squirming under silver spray, an old lady, blinking, confused, the little girl on her lap luminous, as if lit from within, a bed of flowers, the wind, the snowman, the waves, the whole parade with its tubas and majorettes bugles and drums rounds a corner of Main Street, the sudden splice, and the darkness that comes.
It always began: She couldn’t sleep — might as well turn the living room green. As I dozed, furniture thundered the floor and nails struck the plasterboard. Mornings steamed with nicotine. She forecast the hue of every room as her green spattered hands shook egg shells into boiling coffee grounds. I tried to match her tempo, to make her laugh. She drove us to junkyards in the rain. Say it again, I love that, say “Pink is my favorite color of lightning.” In that fierce stretch of joy she forgot to feed me. I made dinners of French toast while she rearranged the matchboxes, her foot tapping fast and faster. I could not touch the incense burners or green glass vases, tremulous with gold and orange tissue flowers, without her screaming I had destroyed everything.
FOR THE MISSING
THE LONG-HELD THEORY
In a seacoast town we gather with the tourists marveling at what shines under glass, what dangles from a necklace, swinging like the ocean.
Eager to prove both egg and semen vital to the mystery of generation, 18th-century ovist Lorenzo Spallanzani sewed waxed taffeta trousers for a frog, who rubbed and rubbed against a female of the species, never skin to skin, the egg never quickening for want of “having been bedewed” by droplets of the male found in his pants — a test designed with such simplicity to prove a long-held theory science labels “elegant,” a word I’d use for figures on a Greek vase: him chasing her, his left foot forward, calves exposed, a spear in his right hand and in his left her wrist; her looking over her shoulder as she flees, her gown in folds between her thighs and his, her right heel off the ground for centuries.
None of us wakes early to search through nets of seaweed retaken by the tide. No one looks through mother-of-pearl, tangled fishing lures, for a sand dollar’s pale head beneath a skirt of surf. No one looks into the village where the townspeople weep into their coats: here eight men carry a tiny sorrow, faces glazing red; for the weight is terrible, like gold, the precious metal that pulls the body downward. We watch near the water as the village closes into clouds. Wave after wave takes us; wordlessly the casket rises into air.
Then the furniture stopped moving: it was a stiff neck, a torn shoulder, it was lights-out and migraines behind closed doors; only the Pall Mall seeping out the cracks, flowing down the stairs in gray retreat.
ALBERT FLYNN De SILVER
THE “USES” OF POETRY
... THE BIG WINDY MEET
VINNI MARIE D’AMBROSIO THE CONSOLATION IN BEING HISTORY Winter
use verbose logging
Palatable wind is malleable arrows in the mouth. Invisible silver, the spray of sharp words between tight teeth
Use tinder regulators to gut punk floods Use glib tricycles in the race for meat fences
Speak fives 'round fires, empty Ledge reads wall's lucid flame. Lives aren't brick green notes Veins flute ample pupil dream Sight rough blast rural dawns.
Then slowly turning unplayful, my mother’s days were nearly still, becoming a frieze, each abutting a long file of earlier days, and paling more the more recent.
carpal-tunnel fuck bag, hallelujah — Use flummuxed carnage for a monocle stand She's a scientist of the Grecian type, isn't she?
Use the harried forceps on his polyp studded overalls
You can tell by that pair of copper urns she wears, tugging at her teardrop ear lobes
Use the foot poodles Use corn wrangling door stops Use the tweed drought factions as a condiment
goes, she does, toting audible myth
Use ornery pond fusion to resolve pinnacles
causes Jack's fat cousin Engine across the street to act pulmonary at 6:AM
Use timbre in the soup cavalry in order to sever the temperature Use coroner plaintiffs near a puddle of cloth
and those perfect sapsuckers feet clenched in the high firs cackle like track-star axles
Use candle turf to tackle the ice farms Use chlorophyll at the hemp pumps
Friday night after the big meet.
Found ivory palms catch stars Husky ocean halos shake frost Freak cloth plums shove hours Twigs enter false scene, twist — Words named wings leave chord.
In the last of the line of them, she breathed such thin breathing onto her merest memories — of a red (the satin on a candybox lid), a green (the lake lying under the trees), a purple (the dusk fallen between her daughters) —
Lyric poems being black sleep Gives place color, chaos, speed Where heart gongs chirr, songs Bloom, water cries, slate bliss — Whose earth sings major years.
that they bleached away also.
Sound ideas tread other dying Carry these lives forth, cause April spine twist, prose blues — Shove 'tween rocks, limbs, crush Sails above cloud shout, FOUND!
Spring Sister’s door, brother’s door, locked shut.
Time's ample flame dream dawns Speak flute songs after fires Heart reads ocean speed, bliss Poems empty cries, hours bloom Being white lyric, soaks death.
Use the turnip sponge as a throaty chandelier
Mother’s door, father’s door, grass plots.
Use clutches dipped in ketchup dust to forecast gaseous custard
Use conduit stuffing around the petroleum tulips
With nowhere at all to place love, I watched mummers in a darkened barn on the straw-hat circuit. They were kind, were in a dumb show: they looped themselves, braided air, caressed
Use trophy kindling to club a stray filament Use wicker faucets to graft sausages Use pigeon canals when powdering your kidneys
DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN
a knee, lifted a wrist.
At the end, the music of flute stretched and collapsed like a barber’s strop, and the footlights dimmed to blue and seemed the distant heaven that is ever greedy for those we once have kissed.
My brother, of the U.S. Army, has come into town! He’ll buy us a fish lunch
Um murmure monte l’oiseau frissonne
at the Rose Café, the fans will whir sweetly over our heads, preserving in song his chopper’s rescues,
A murmur rises, the bird shudders Vigorous dissident in the gong’s uprising On the plain which hands erase for the inventory of dreams
Fronde à toute volée d’une révolte du gong Dans la plaine que les mains effacent pour l’inventaire du songe
the waiter will snap to,
Au milieu des sépultures ouvertes
Amidst the open tombs cypresses rise Altars and gallows like semaphores To say what faith, to say what name In the midst of human dust When standing near the pits with flushed foreheads like lovers Sentries count rag dolls pierced with rusted arrows
les cyprès se dressent
and I will drink in the sunniness of the daisies in their stark vase.
Wrapped in my sister’s silence, I look at the February sea
Autels et gibets comme des sémaphores Dire le culte, dire le nom Au milieu de la poussière des homes Quand debout près des fosses
until it seems the black marble of tombs — miles wide and quarried long ago in the haze of an Italian morning, its rough planes surprised by the stonecutter.
aux fronts rougis des amants Les sentinelles comptent les poupées de chiffon percées de flèches rouillées D’autres nuits, d’autres sacrifices
Other nights, other sacrifices The bird perches so near the moon While banners still flap Jars are ticked off on an abacus And silent drums lead the harnessed fog
L’oiseau gît si proche de la lune Tandis que les étendards claquent encore
On the morning of our mother’s baptism was it already in the making?
Les jarres s’égrènent au compte des bouliers Et les tambours silencieux conduisent l’attelage de brume
Who ordained it then, so black and heavy, to ride, like an ocean on an ocean, to this Atlantic beach, to crash here and transmute,
Mille chevaux, ombres déployées,
A thousand horses, outspread shadows walk within the dream’s secret Extinguished rivers carry the message in memory of the small boats’ journey He who presides here sits beside the sun Ah! the astonishment of the just!
marchent dans le secret du songe Les fleuves éteints portent le message en souvenir du voyage des barques Celui qui siège ici jouxte le soleil
becoming, as I look, a surface of Mediterranean prisms and Adriatic hushings?
Ah! l’étonnement des justes
Minnows of light, love’s whispers — one needs these.
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
from BARBARIC ELEGIES
YOUNG MAN READING COLETTE ON THE TRAIN It’s low tide along the world’s slopes And we discover ruins and tombs and the skeletons of ancient floods
But where is the valiant man’s banner In these countries of metamorphoses These deserts of color Where wizards conjure up untamed words A long crossing in the night of fetishes Pupils pierced like dead suns
V In a night of complicit stars Executioners search the soul amidst ashes At the head of the procession, lamps lay siege to the high seawall And hands hail the wedding of madness
And behind the fortified worlds Terrified flocks following the journey Of their shepherds’ staves Primordial vagabonds In the earth’s guts where knives shine
On every road convicts you move forward frail silhouettes outlined by chalk like children’s hopscotch grids on far-off sidewalks And you drown memory as far as the most remote quarantine-station While the earth’s live crust makes a stone staircase and aims the dying source’s streams Toward the anvils where words erase themselves
Even into the tombs’ secret In the profaned bed of the ancestors
from PRIMOGENITURE II Blessed be the olive-trees’ song Stone, pebble, dust and all the writing sown by a dream’s hand to guard the old wagon of time As for the bellies of clocks and abacuses neither their effort nor their grace was counted
Without my knowing, the clasp opened on the subway platform, a clatter on the tiles I only hear in retrospect, and now someone else is enjoying my watch with its Navajo turquoise, much admired by friends, by my doctor of ten years, who is ill himself now, and takes no calls.
You hold my gaze a little too long, your hair cut short like a boy’s, your fine little glasses, at your ear, glint of gold, in your cheek, a slight shade of wasting: This is to say I see you, I know you, I am alert to your potential, to ours, on this train, on every train, on the platform, on the stairs to the street; on the dim threshold, in the elevator stopped between floors, in its flickering lights, then in that dark opening, if we are spared, where I may find my way to you, graceful ghost of a chance.
Was it trying to escape, all along? It went through the wash twice; had to be fitted with new hands, which kept coming unstuck to point toward irrelevancies. And once, from a nightstand, leapt out an attic dormer and lay with leaves in the gutter for days, till painters found it. Or was it struggling to stay, but finally unable? Where the watch used to be, my wrist is pale, my pulse flooding and scattered. This is how the dictionary defines caducous: “deciduous, as of leaves, dropping off very early, subject to shedding, destined to fall.”
Others after us will know how to read the message knotted to the iron bars Openwork faces like standing flags
Beneath the foliations of sand on the sunset’s stairs, in the sleeper’s steps the forgotten ones shake their rattles Then song rises , inhabited by deaf notes bullets fired at the backs of dogs while a child bewitches the pack with his wild vowels In the wave’s wake, a stone rolls moon-bleached The far-off bell-towers celebrate the day’s resignation in a flurry of powdered bone
STORY IN THREE PARTS MEXICAN COWBOY
AROUND THE WORLD My cell phone plays “Ode to Joy.” I answer it. It’s Peter Martin, the boy from Around the World, our grammar
It’s after midnight when I check into the Alamo Motel in Artesia, New Mexico. The desk clerk puts down his
school geography textbook, the boy whose place I wanted to take, the boy whose father took him out of school for a year
burrito, wipes his mouth with his hand and his hands on his jeans. He says, No funny business. I smile. I tell him I’m
so the two of them could travel the world while Mr. Martin conducted his international consulting business. Peter’s
exhausted, long drive. He tells me there’s a $2 key deposit, a $5 phone deposit, and a $10 cat deposit. I tell him, Thanks,
calling from Florence, which he calls Firenze. Nothing, I tell him, just out walking the dog. He’s called to tell me his dad
but I don’t need a cat. He says, Yes, you do, hombre. We have mice. He leads me through the beaded curtain and into a
has died, their globetrotting days are over. I offer my condolences. Prostate, he says. Ouch, I say. He tells me the chief
living room. There’s a young girl — can’t be more than fifteen — curled on the sofa, sucking her thumb. She doesn’t
export of the Katanga province of the Belgian Congo is copper. I tell him there is no Belgian Congo, no Zaire, no British
take her eyes off the TV, where a Mexican cowboy warbles a love song. Este amor apasionado ... Next to the La-Z-Boy are
Honduras, no Ceylon, no Upper Volta, no Rhodesia, no Soviet Union. He says the Yangtze is the longest river in Asia. I
nine plastic kennels, each with a cat inside, a bowl, a litter box, and a scratching pad. The cats’ names are written on the
tell him I had a cancer scare myself. I say, Why don’t you come by for a drink and a chat. Bring your slides. When I tell
kennels with a black marker: Belial, Tom, Diablo, Salvador Dali Llama, and so on. The clerk sucks his teeth, watches the
him where I live, he says, Tomato Capital of the World. Not any more, I tell him — salt water incursion. Only thing we
cowboy, sings along, Yo se perder, yo se perder, tells me to choose. I tell him I’ll take Molly. He says, Good choice. You
grow here now is old. I say, Whatever happened to that little blond who wore the dirndl, lived in Zermatt? Her dad and
don’t even have to take her out of the cage — the mice can smell her. In Room 11, Molly cries until I free her. When I
yours worked together on the engineering project. You and she picked alpine flowers together. Spot and I cross Sheridan
get into bed, she climbs onto my chest and kneads my T-shirt. I massage her neck, she purrs. We ignore the scratching
Street, and he barks at a land crab by the mangrove thicket. Peter says, You mean Analise. I give Spot a tug on the leash.
along the baseboards. In the next room a man named Phil tells a woman named Esperanza that if you’re up to your chin
Peter says, She married a junkie. Much trouble. I’ll tell you all about it when I come by. Do you like bruschetta?
in shit, the only thing to do is sing.
LEONA Leona Veach kept her olive oil in the creamer, her cream in the sugar bowl, sugar in the coffee can, coffee in a fruit bowl, fruit in the bread box, and bread in the oven. She covered the Fiestaware fruit bowl — with the coffee in it — with a vinyl bowl mantel that looked like a shower cap. In the shower, she covered her platinum hair with a toaster cozy. Leona was famous in Blue Diamond for being taken up in a flying saucer. She was in her seventies when it happened. She told us the aliens were pleasant enough boys, but dumb as shovels. Spoke English — knew the words anyway, the syntax and all — but you couldn’t fathom a thing they said. She said if these individuals stayed on Earth, which they called Ping, we’d have to put them all in a mental hospital. One thing they kept repeating to her was, “Determination keels setaceously the kaput hippodrome.” They’d say it, look at her, wait, look at each other, say it again only louder and slower. She’d tell them, "Honey, this is Louisiana, and what you all are saying don’t significate here." She wanted to know did they have immortal souls? They looked puzzled; their eyes swelled, ears twitched. They were little wizards when it came to other things, she said. They could float on air, change color, pass kitchen appliances through their bodies. They could disintegrate marbles or cats or dinner plates. She always said they were nice enough boys, but wouldn’t you think if a planet from some other galaxy was going to spend all that money and time to fly a Welcome Wagon to Blue Diamond, they’d send along some of the smart ones? Seems like a waste, she told us.
Already done now child, and too quick spreading across the table face,
Our parents taught us the synonyms for no. They scolded us for scuffed shoes, tangled hair; chose our playthings, designed for girl or boy, red-striped Andy, aproned Raggedy Ann. Two years apart, just far enough for us to hear envy buzz our heads like insect wings. I coveted his train set; he’d have liked to sing to dolls — he had just one, a miniature man. We’d reached the splitting stem of weak and strong, but which was which, his muscle or my taunts? Each day, we measured, bent and pruned our bond, plowed backyard mud and practiced flaunting separate selves. Late at night the walls between us thinned beneath our tapping calls.
a glue-white tide rolling toward the edges of napkins and plates. This is the sorrow for reaching your small arm across for more, and now everyone watching you. Everyone sees what you have done, this flat tragedy still as the tearless end of day,
VERONICA GOLOS MAMI WATA
On pilings green with moss, we sit, listening to the sea’s hiss and come, its pause — purple shadows flying into the curves of sand. Late in the day, a half moon hints in the sky. The sea is not blue, nor is it green, but a gray filled with blue and green — like a singer whose voice trembles at a note, then overflows. We have lived far from the ocean, far from the cries and shapes of men, their wild hearts tamed to the size of a thumb. Even the gulls forget their sense of sea; they pick and quarrel on land for bits of bread.
pooling and cold on the kitchen floor. How good then to feel Mami Wata, rolling and pulling; breathing her wet breath beneath this sand — this uwa mmadu — this human world.
RHINA P. ESPAILLAT CYCLES
Leaf by green leaf the ground became the sky from April to September, straining high through bole to crown up to the seagull’s cry.
They called it a mountain, but it was just a hill that took a while to stop. Though I felt brave enough in my sweater at the top, reading something about God on a plaque as little girls who’d climbed ahead of me chased one another through their mothers’ legs, and stiff old men stood gazing down at sheep that wove around the lower hills like clouds that carried their own shadows on their backs. I lay down for a nap, hoping the winds would do me the small favor of changing who I was, the way they had their way with dunes and slackened sails. But all they did was whistle, tunes old as the hills of Wales.
With gravity suspended by decree of some unknown, capricious deity, a kind of levitation lifted me all topsy-turvy off my mortal feet, like hawthorn and white birch and bittersweet. Or seemed to, rather, since no way to cheat time or the laws of physics has been found. October’s come: look how, without a sound, leaf by gold leaf the sky becomes the ground.
Mami Wata is the West African goddess of the sea; she is a mermaid with a complex personality. Uwa mmadu means “the world of human beings.”
“THROUGH ME THE WAY INTO THE GRIEVING CITY” — from The Divine Comedy
by Jeet Thayil more than revenge. They had cleared the air; they had proved to the majority community that they too were to be feared; they were not entirely powerless.
On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, a mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, was destroyed by a Hindu mob convinced the site was the birthplace of the god Ram. I was many hundreds of miles away in Bombay (not yet Mumbai), sure that the religious madness that periodically inflamed the rest of the country would not touch my city, a relative haven of the sane. Like everybody else, I was wrong. Almost immediately after the destruction of the Babri Masjid, Bombay was consumed by successive waves of rioting that left more than 1,500 people dead. There were nights you could not walk the streets, when the whole city was a curfew zone, and your name, depending on whether it was Hindu or Muslim, was either a death sentence, or a passport to safety. In January, I stood at my bedroom window watching the Mahim timber market, owned by Muslims, go up in flames. My Hindu neighbors were out on their balconies – with fried food and whisky – watching the wood fire turn the neighborhood various shades of orange; or saffron, as some of them might have said. The riots continued for three months, until, on March 10, thirteen bombs went off in the city, from the Stock Exchange building in South Bombay to the Searock Hotel in the suburbs. The bombs were detonated in the space of two hours, timed to the minute. One was placed on the street where the Shiv Sena, Bombay's rightwing Hindu rulers, had their headquarters. More than three hundred people died in those blasts, many of them Muslim. Almost overnight, the attacks against Muslim homes and businesses stopped. The Muslims of Bombay had exacted
I left Bombay four years later. Once the city’s only religion was that of beauty, talent, ambition, and money. The religion you were born into, and the destiny of your name, mattered only as much as your taste in food or footwear. Now, the riots, and their aftermath, had changed everything. I consoled myself with the idea that after all it was not Bombay I was leaving but Mumbai. In New York City, I set off for work on September 11, 2001, but had to exit the subway at midtown. Sixth Avenue was a river of people; some covered in ash and dust. Particles of pulverized matter floated uptown as I walked down the avenue, bent on getting to work on a day when the city had stopped working. What was there on my desk that needed so badly to be done? Nothing, of course. I was trying to impose the order of routine on a world that had stopped making sense. I could not get out of my mind the fact that there were no tall buildings at the end of the avenue, only smoke. On that day Muslim vengeance went from being a component of local conflict to the modern world's next big idea. In this way, the architects of September 11 were successful in their mission – to make the world notice, to exact more than revenge for their powerlessness. They made certain that the Muslim question became the dominant question of the age, coloring the beginning of the decade and the century as clearly as modernism or communism had dominated previous periods.
When Gujarat exploded last year, a decade after the events in Ayodhya, it took the classic Indian shape – an attack against Hindus avenged by an orgy of murder and looting against the Muslim minority. It was part of an ongoing scenario that first arrived in the eighth century, when Arab conquerors forcibly brought the new religion of Islam to the Indian kingdom of Sind. Gujarat should not have surprised us but it did, and it continues to do so. In 1972 the Bombay-based poet and painter Gieve Patel wrote a poem with an oddly quaint title, 'The Ambiguous Fate of Gieve Patel, He Being Neither Muslim nor Hindu in India.' Only 68 words, the poem appeared in Adil Jussawalla's seminal anthology New Writing in India (Penguin, 1974). It is worth quoting in full:
SYMPTOMS for Farhad
His hair has been falling and his beard drips raggedly from his chin. He smells of fish whenever the wind changes; the harbour controls his moods. He forgets the lines he has just read, cannot recall the letters that spell his name and loses the thread of his tales in a maze of past events: Would sulphur help or mercury? He has no clue. Will he find the parrot with red eyes?
To be no part of this hate is deprivation. Never could I claim a circumcised butcher Mangled a child out of my arms, never rave At the milk-bibing, grass-guzzling hypocrite Who pulled off my mother's voluminous Robes and sliced away at her dugs. Planets focus their fires Into a worm of destruction Edging along the continent. Bodies Turn ashen and shrivel. I Only burn my tail.
*** Yesterday is a closed door. Behind it stretches a well-loved landscape of dusty blue sea and chalk-pink hills, a choir of clowns playing with striped pumpkins. When he wakes up, torpid admirals tie him up in knots.
The poems in these pages are a response by Indian poets to the events in Gujarat in 2002, but they are also a response to the times they live in. Based in India, Canada, and the United States, the poets in this collection articulate no creed other than the ancient law of the poet – that we must love one another or die, that incantation may one day change every bomb into butter, that the word works even when the world does not.
*** Islands collide as he stumbles through the Gateway of India: he sits on a bench to steady his mind's haywire gyroscope. He's arrested by a cat on the prowl: the sun is a fish in its eye. *** Strangers make him dizzy, he faints in a crowd.
... He sees himself thrown back from every shop-window:
THE RAPE OF GUJARAT
a clown-god of the crossroads.
They scamper up the pathway Of a parting or crouch, Camouflaged in luxuriant Surroundings.
for Ghulam Mohammad Shaikh, Tyeb Mehta, and Akbar Padamsee
not the romantic pink rose half-veiled in chiffon in a Muslim social movie made in Mumbai where every frame rustles with black silk or satin and anguish plucks the sitar
Water sloshes in the canals of his ears, cutthroats chase each other inside his brain. His hands tremble as he hunts for his keys; his pockets bulge with fever-hot pebbles.
Raking fingernails Will crush a few, ablutions Of oil, soap, shampoo Flush out a legion.
Zigzag lightning flashes in his eyes; he watches as zebra crossings climb the steep houses on Colaba Causeway, striping the night sky. He wakes up retching,
But clutching a slick Ropeway of hair, One leaves behind nits And about them, all their wits.
wishing the palm trees outside his window were the birch grove he had grown to love in a country nine thousand miles away and as close as his skin.
Dogged, deep, itâ€™s an itch That invades both Indigent and chic. Coiffure or mop, pubes
*** Pressed to pubes, Skull to skull, Even in deodorized armpit, The vice of lice
Ash Lane, Cochin Street, Tamarind Lane, Mangalore Street, Ropewalk Lane, Rampart Row, Cruickshank Lane: the names beat out a staccato prayer, forests and seaports echo in the Fort:
Festers. Not even A tonsure will kill The pestilence: beating The combing operation,
the names of streets, mottled bookmarks stuck in a book whose pages have crumbled. This city is an album of proverbs that hides the parrot with red eyes.
but ripping off all that may clothe the body exposed in its naked fear not the mystique and the archetype conceived in sensuous anticipation and trembling emotion but the body crushed to cunt made palpable by the deeper surfaces of shock stoked, poked, probed, fucked, carved, sliced, and shredded then so that everyone can smell but nobody may tell torched to leave a signatured trail of smoke no mother is safe, nor daughter, nor wife, nor fiance, nor friend these motherfuckers are painting a riotous scene in saffron and green and black they come from bourgeois homes eat farsan for breakfast and fart before they pray at every garish temple strike brass bells and devout gongs use cell phones play discman drive sleek town cars watch more than 90 channels drink whiskey to become sentimental pay tributes to preachers from hell these are our own families and friends and our next door neighbours we borrow curds from
Frenzied escapees still Wriggle on piled locks Bundled off for Quilts and wigs.
they fly kites on the day of sankranti and burst crackers in diwali or after cricket victories we see them at picnics meet them at cinemas find them in restaurants of our choice theyâ€™ve been planning this for three generations since 1947 and now comes the fourth to deliver the subliminal as a hard copy and a text for you to decipher on the banks of the sabarmati river where Bapu played with children and goats between freedoms
A masked man moves about With papers, pencils and calipers. He numbers people, animals. He numbers people as animals. He is an enumerator of some kind.
1. THE FLAYED HEAD OF A GOAT There is nothing here Not even the faint arc of an eye-brow For your gaze to lean on.
The animal has a long way To go, with a broken femur.
The black flays the red The muted braided fibres Flicker with a carnal glow.
The masked man is an oncologist Of despair. His kindness Is like nicotine. It grows on you.
It is unguarded, exposed. Like an orphan’s childhood.
The animal is merely hungry, But looks guilty. By now, it knows it is only An animal, mute, lame Hungry and illiterate.
2. MINOTAURS The minotaurs left the museum walls To walk down the streets. We thought they were obedient, Even ornamental. They should have been under lock and key.
H Masud Taj
PROCESSION We have mounted a vigil on paintings. We have asked painters to Surrender their easels and palettes.
Heap up the corpses, No gap shall remain, The law has decreed Crevices be plugged with memories.
The ban on brushes and canvas will continue. Note : An exhibition of Picasso paintings showed in Bombay around the time the riots in Gujarat were raging. The two poems above used well-known images from Picasso.
When it is time to draw the carriage Horses shall strain, Biting the reins, live muscles Bulging with dead weight. Ground shall be wet, Soggy mud shall cling to hoofs Like the last breath. But the carriage shall move,
NATIONAL ANIMAL A black river is in spate. An animal, anointed, sits Waiting. The night is Unrelenting. On nights like this Streets are arrogant, unfair. The sky is carbon black.
The law has decreed the route Through deserted lanes, Where only charred columns remain Standing in respect.
SALT DESERT In last year’s cyclone The sea drowned the land. The salt sank into the ground: Only rain could wash it out. This year there was no rain. With the heat The land cracked and dried And died. There was no rain. And the sky pressed heavily Until the horizon Was a thin white line Held so taut It would twang If you touched it. And the dark sky Pressed and pressed Until all the earth Was cracked and crazed As if badly fired in the kiln, And there was no rain.
“Arch” 2003. Atul Dodiya Watercolor, charcoal, acrylic with marble dust on paper, 70”x45”
Piles sand in looping dunes; And the land, as it dies, Grows salt pans, A white crop To replace the green.
There are no trees. They have been burnt up By the wind and the sun And the salt from the sea That lies pressed thin and flat Between earth and sky: What is not burnt black By the sun Sparkles.
Translated from the Hindi by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
LISTEN CAREFULLY Listen carefully, As neither the Vedas Nor the Koran Will teach you this:
The earth wears a reptilian skin, Pounded by the sun Until the cracks open wide, And begin to crumble. Then the wind Etches the cracks wider, Blows the grains away,
Put the bit in its mouth, The saddle on its back, Your foot in the stirrup, And ride your wild runaway mind All the way to heaven.
In our country there are two million dead and more for whom no rites were said. No land on earth can bear this. Rivers are criss-crossed with blood.
BENGALI MARKET Dear Mr. Gandhi It was cold the day the masjid was torn down stone by stone, colder still at the heart of Delhi.
All day I hear the scissor bird cry cut cut cut cut cut. It is the bird Kalidasa heard as he stood singing of buried love.
Ten years later entering Bengali market I saw a street filled with bicycles, girls with rushing hair, boys in bright caps. I heard a voice cry Can you describe this? It sounded like a voice from a city crusted with snow to the far north of the Asian continent. I saw him then, your grandson in a rusty three wheeler wrapped up in what wools he could muster. Behind him in red letters a sign: DR. GANDHI’S CLINIC So he said, embracing me, you’ve come back. Then pointing to the clinic — Its not that I’m sick
Now our boys and girls take flight on rusty bicycles. Will we be cured? I cried. And he: We have no tryst with destiny.
My hands like yours are stained with the juice of the pomegranate. Please don’t ask for my address. I am in and out of Bengali market.
After a massacre one hears a call to laughter:— Manto did, Vonnegut too:— a tinking thin-brass bell buckled under heat, a spell disjoining. Lapsible, crude
BECAUSE Because the emptiness of the room gathers together just as a poem does, because the jackfruit leaves are so still holding the fiery scent in place in the tree, because the orphan girl in the refugee camp drifts by as though a ghost, we are what we see of our fears in a barber shop’s parallel mirrors.
that gentleman gets my mail and I his. That is why I am perched in this contraption. I cannot stay long, it is Id ul Fitr. I must greet friends in Old Delhi, wish them well. Later he sought me out in dreams, in a high kitchen in sharp sunlight dressed in a khadi kurta, baggy jeans. He touched my throat in greeting —
grotesque in disarray, left by a continent which slowly disappeared; scoured and depleted by a hundred million rains.
Because these times are turning out another orphan girl, another maimed man, another ruined country, and history is without its time. The face goes on wearing its two eyes. Leaves murmur like dying Muslims.
They stand in silhouette above the windwarped pines, more corpsed with memories than ruins which castles leave. Though they have stood much wear, have endured more than grief and survived more than war, these rocks now bear no runes more than those worked by wind, great shifts of earth, and rains.
LAUGHTER from Gujarat: Five Songs
But these gnarled outcrops are connections with what is. The cold salacities of night, day’s fall and flare, unending cycles, pass at the same charted pace. Forest on forest dies at charted pace, beneath the scarred rocks which maintain a stillness not of death.
and bitter hope of return, a song of the tattered urn. Nothing will be the same: this house is not your house, my wanderer. Please, nurse your wounds. Recopy your name in this here ledger, begin. Oh, and find something to believe in.
The constant wheel of stars turns over them in time. Glaciers, tidal waves, sandstorms and human hands have paused on them, then passed. Ghosts follow other ghosts up climbing stairs of wind, across black stands of pine to the last source of loss: the rocks, the coming rain.
Dom Moraes Nothing you can say now will repair things. And I do not know what I seek. Not love, not even a stranger’s pain. If I come back, I will only to collect yesterdays without their dark nights, to find the poem wandering in the invisible labyrinth of words.
Listen my sweet, for half of each year, after the carriage was set on fire after the Gujarat killings I disappear into darkness ...
GONDWANA ROCKS Heavy the climbing wind, burdened with coming rain. At the road’s edges are black stands of conifer. Above, anarchic rocks,
RICARDO RIZZO Arundhati Subramaniam
MEANWHILE, OVER IN ORISSA
To swing yourself from moment to moment, weave a clause that leaves room for reminiscence and surprise, that breathes, welcomes commas, dips and soars through air-pockets of vowel, lingers over the granularity of consonant, never racing to the full-stop, content sometimes with the question mark, even if it’s the oldest one in the book.
i.m. Graham Staines
Sometimes I see clearly, like a man recovering from long illness. On this ash-gray Ash Wednesday I try to take coffee or stand but little things trip me up: my face in the kitchen mirror, a grainy image folded on the bed, an Indian rooster’s insane crowing. Daylight is worse by far. I see my brain’s clenched fist command the body to rise. I stop and cannot breathe. The book’s blurred runes flap their wings, and pyramids of gods lift their hands, their mouths stained red with a kind of love.
To stand in the vast howling rain-gouged openness of a page asking the question that has been asked before, knowing the gale of a thousand libraries will whip it into the dark.
What can be said about the night? Why point out its animal skin? Or the Australian missionary and his two small sons who pray in a burning jeep. Saffron men dance around them, their ash-lined foreheads tremble like crosses in the heat.
To leave no footprints in the warm alluvium, no Dolby echoes to reverberate through prayer halls, no epitaphs, no saffron flags.
DONA BORDANDO UM PANO
LADY EMBROIDERING A PIECE OF FABRIC
Dona bordando um pano na dura gestação de quem se forja
Lady embroidering a piece of fabric the hard gestation of someone who forges
emite um filho, ou canto ali rente à janela branca
delivers a son, or a song right there, near the white window
enquanto o mundo e a casa sujam o sol distante.
while world and house stain the distant sun.
Dona aquecendo assento durante tarde ou noite
Lady warming the chair day or night
convida um curdo, ou cão resvala o lábio, pele
invites a Kurd, or the dog drops her lips, skin
na pele estranha que o café preenche
against the strange skin filled up with coffee.
É escuro no bairro, Colcha de famílias quietas.
It is dark in the neighborhood, a quilt of quiet families.
Dona ferindo o neto infernal que atravessara
Lady hurting her cooler grandson who crossed the lake
o lago a maçã o esbulho dos dentes de crystal e mentira
the apple the wild crystalline and deceitful teeth
que apeia da boca como sinais de infantaria.
that stick out of her mouth like signs of infantry
São quentes os dedos desta dona mastigando grossos espinhos
Warm are the fingers of this lady chewing thick thorns
através da casa e da morte que o pano consome.
through the house and death consumed on this fabric.
This was also a way of keeping the faith.
Translated from the Portuguese by Flávia Rocha
BROOKLYN EARLY SUMMER ’01
JEFFREY HARRISON "THE LAWRENCE TREE"
LOIS MARIE HARROD
SELF-PORTRAIT AS A BATHROOM MIRROR
AMY HOLMAN CEREBRAL COUNTRIES 1.
18. On the phone machine my daughter’s voice reports I’m not coming home. At least she feels these close rooms are home, I cry to myself.
This great pine, a colossal Ponderosa outside his house on the ranch outside of Taos,
21. She complains of sand in her two-piece. I tell her to bathe her sex in the surf. Away from boys.
the tree he liked to write under at a long work table, “that towers and hisses like a pillar of shaggy cloud,”
28. Rather than feel abandoned I ask for a glass of water. He brings an extra comforter.
is also the tree O’Keeffe, a few years later, loved to lie under on a bench or the needled ground,
48. When was the last time we identified three types of dragonflies? Was it before you left your wife — or before I left my husband?
Can you see yourself in me, clothed or after your bath wet and naked,
Sometimes, the digital clock across my room is not a bright smear, but a mug shot of a golden retriever, or the etched refraction of some other
your hair in ringlets, mascara circumscribing your eyes,
kindness. Why let lasik surgery obliterate the mysterious etch-a-sketch of thought and optic nerve on sleepless nights? I like how believe has the same root as leave,
your lashes those of one who weeps when she is alone, who hides her mouth in a lipsticked grin?
how disconnecting from the known is the way to know.
Here, take a tissue, wipe it off, see what she really is.
50. I do not need to pull up the shade to know the road is slick and the air, black. All winter. It’s true I try to control others’ emotions.
its massive trunk rising from behind her head as she looked up into the strenuous branches and brushy crown
Remember those little girls a century back with faerie photographs deemed a hoax? Queen Mab
until the world turned upside down. And this is how she painted it, the trunk leading out into the blue and starry sky,
has a rich laugh. From a Chinese sandpit, tiny fossil primates just arrived at our party, the height of sharpened No. 2 pencil lead. Does it matter if nothing is new
calling it his tree, as if this green-black shadow mass, this many-tentacled primeval being,
under the sun? What lures me out from under is an incomplete familiar, or an earnest face too true, some other thought fleeing underneath.
were something he had made or, now, become, staring out from the night sky through blue star-pupiled eyes.
They were nocturnal because they were wee, smart as chimpanzees (and we), with starlit dinners of mosquitoes and sap. We fancied wings, petal gowns, their undermining giant humans. And here they are, no longer exiled in our imaginations, no longer foreign.
CYNTHIA MARIE HOFFMAN
PAST THE FLOATING MARKET OF CANTHO
Your body is found lying belly up near shore, eyes open. A prominent abrasion is attendant on your lower left neck.
Some care. Some don’t. Believe me when I tell you I’ve found nirvana. I don’t care one way or the other. Whether the waitress brings me a cup of steam or offers herself with the generosity of air. I’m indifferent to the morals of oxygen and the dead lift of joy and pain. I’m impervious to my cornucopia of pills and the dead light above my head. My failing senses fail to please me. Look. I don’t rock the boat but the boat rocks me. I just live here, in Anhedonia, USA. I’m not responsible for the waves, their big slowdown. The way they reach shore only once a week with a snarl of sand and shells. I just punch the clock and do my time xeroxing snowflakes. When I find two that are identical, I can retire and sip drinks by the shore until my number is up. Meanwhile I just watch the parade of the seven deadly sins whipped on by the impersonal master of ceremonies. I don’t care enough to sue the gods for false imprisonment. Even when I make love, I lie down and say: Habeas corpus! Habeas corpus! You may have the body. You can have the mind too. I’ve found nirvana. Believe me, I don’t care one way or the other.
From thatch, rattan, and bamboo stilts children run to the banks waving as though we are famous. Some play in our wake like dolphins. In a silk ao dai alone in a row boat under tow, a young woman sits serene in the vaguely sad heaven of the beautiful. In unison so we can hear above our engine noise children chant from the rushes Hel-lo, hel-lo. Children in the trees stare and children slow and stiff like the very old stumble toward the river, waving slowly. A white pig tied to a front window wags her tail. Tiny houses for spirits are open to the river. Each boat has a red face and large white eyes. The fields of marigolds planted for Tet, long life, for good luck, which means all your family lives through the new year, even the marigolds blaze in the terrible sun, wide-eyed awake and watching.
You are wearing Levi’s blue jeans, two white socks, yellow sweater, a gold Fossil watch shattered open at 3:47 p.m. Your lower right arm just above the wrist is remarkable for showing several rust-colored lesions consistent with animal bites. The wind moves about you in tongues, and the whitewater river roils at its bouldered gorge. (At this point, bloody air is noted bubbling from your wound.) So this is how it ends, splayed on a rock face, multiple sternal and rib fractures, and your body calling out to seagulls with a low, guttural sound. Understand that the last photograph ever taken of you shows extensive bruising along the wound path, very fine hemorrhages like leaf veins. Small, russet abrasions ring your lips, but your teeth are native and in good repair. All of your life ends now, like this: good teeth. Evidence: one gray-stoppered test tube of urine; shavings of flintstone; bird claw; swab of moss; random scalp and pubic hair; 20 gm of lung. One iris is green. One iris is hazel. The heavy balloon of your skull, in which your brain is preserved intact, is unremarkable.
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
FOR DEAR LIFE
SYBIL KOLLAR WHAT I WANTED TO SAY
TRANSFIXED MIRRORS (2001)
Suspendue aux branches basses
sa lanterne allonge l’ombre des renards
et entraine les lucioles dans une mort circulaire une mort blanche Il neige dans le miroir incliné et ma mère qui tond la laine des arbres tricote un foulard pour le soir frileux Elle se dit la mère de tous ceux qui savent dessiner une maison C’est pour eux qu’elle trait la lune pour eux qu’elle conserve son lait dans des jarres femelles loin du soleil qui a mangé ses deux fenêtres et roté deux échardes sur son seuil Elle suit ses va-et-vient entre deux cerisiers les quatres points cardinaux ne sont que deux à cause d’une pénurie de ciel Caché par l’eucalyptus le nord ne donne plus de ses nouvelles et le sud qui se déplace avec son coq
We did not wake my mother from her naps. We just didn’t. But that day, when Mrs. Reuter held my right arm in her tanned tennis grip, I knew what I had to do and she could not keep me from it. She thought I wanted my father — to go to him, sprawled and bleeding from his mouth and nose into Keller’s summer brown lawn — but I pulled free and surprised her, dashing past Dad, past his bicycle, still in the road and twisted like his face, past his glasses, silver frames smashed into a squint, glass spit and sparkling in the gravel, through Moershell’s yard and Strickland’s, past the can we kids kicked each night before suppertime, then into our own driveway, around the garage to the back yard where my mother lay snoring softly in the hammock, arms folded across her flat belly, skin scented with Jean Naté and scotch, and I did not hesitate, I snatched her hands in mine and shook them, shouting, Wake up, Mom, wake up.
What I wanted to say to you this morning has shifted to my shoulders. It gives me a hunched look as if I’m searching for something small and dangerous. By noon the words begin to swing between my hips becoming dazed, disoriented and I’m walking as if something is trapped in my hair. Meanwhile, I’ve entered the domain of jagged sentences in so many languages that the classroom seems on fire, the tallest student gesticulating as if trying to say he was born in the blackboard. Later who knows the condition of the thoughts that have been scrambling to restore their order if only the swirling would stop and they could all have a nap.
a fini son trajet dans une poubelle
CAITLIN KIMBALL Hung from the low branches her lantern lengthens the foxes’ shadows and entices the fireflies into a circular death a white death It is snowing in the tilted mirror and my mother who shears the wool of trees is knitting a scarf for the chilly evening She says she is the mother of everyone who knows how to draw a house It’s for them that she milks the moon for them that she stores the milk in female jars far from the sun which has eaten her two windows and belched up two splinters on the doorstep She follows its comings and goings between two cherry trees there are only two of the four compass points due to a penury of sky There’s no news of the north, hidden by the eucalyptus and the south which travels with a rooster has finished its journey in a trashcan
It’s hard to know why I let words trundle through my body, cutting off their air supply. Perhaps it has to do with furniture and space, the way you sit as if on more than one chair.
METALLURGIST’S OVERTURE The story of the planet is the song of ores Below the crust that grips the trees. Not weather Or celestia but the lumps it hailed for scavenging. Until they saw to map the veins, bury fire, Rig mechanic lungs. Flux and gangue boiled out The slag, and so did the sorted alloys usher eras Of sorting: oxides brewed the bronze of forceps And scalpels. Talk of mills and dragging hoes, and soon We reach the consequence of sewing needles. The bullet, The cannonball. Antimony swam with lead to cast The type for Gutenberg — news of botany and heaven loosed By alloys. Cross-cuts of mid-century phones Unmask pantheons of metals. Pins turn in hips And knees. A humming plate spans an opened skull. It is still the Iron Age, the divining rod held still.
I listen for the sound of a door clicking shut, the perfect relief of an empty room where evening begins and words emerge tumbling recklessly among the bric-a-brac as if they had a future.
GABRIELLE LeMAY PANDORA’S BARN
Translated from the Hungarian by Michael Castro and Gábor Gyukics
DIDAC P. LAGARRIGA
I could never see what you could offer me — on that score,
I’m further away from you than the ocean liner on the cornfields. The hurtling electric poles are black masts. I’m at such a great distance, that a winning sailboat can’t reach me to tear me apart. I’ll be even further away when I arrive.
you said, I was blind as the side of a barn. (You always got that metaphor wrong.) You gave me kittens, ponies, and lilac-scented hay to weave within the fabric of my song. I couldn’t respond.
Here only thirst is present, and an aching voice from the abyss. It’s only a dream — I whisper, inspired. An angel tumbled down on this place yesterday.
Then one day you took your backed-up rage and flung it like a torch straight at my heart
Now everybody is a diary writer, multiplying history. In the doorway a swan embraces a shotgun. The engineer is an ash colored old man with an empty eye-socket.
and when the pain shot through me like a gasoline fire and your flames threatened to engulf me,
citycited, i'm trying to come where i've never wanted. everywhere as example, a city dislocated by professional walkers, a city disformed by professional walkers, an uniform of cities and professional walkers / runners / business. citizens vs talkers a crew of walkitalkers thousands of dozens of couples of walkmen mapping stretching granulating a primary street conscience and, of course, speculating, spectacling, spectatoo, specphobias ... yes, trying -better choosing- to go where i'm coming, this place without places, a huge place of huge business, building business, really busy ... they are busy, occupied, occurring, occopulating with the same dealers, traders, conspiramentallist with — without — mental minds. mint gum / mind gum for chewing
barn doors I never knew I had slammed open wide releasing glistening hordes
I’m getting further away as I’m approaching you, a sparrow clashes with the window. Giant black stove pipes are roaring inside me, where are you? It’s dark in here, it’s horrible. If this is history, then I won’t touch you, don’t wait for me when I arrive.
of steaming black horses, leaping, lunging, breathtaking to behold: each proud head tossing to be free of its thick white cotton blindfold.
a bus of busy business people. people. purple people checked from the sky — their sky (sold it yesterday) — delivering facts as delivering cats for hamburgers. can't believe them. sure. sure in surenopollis, the capital with enough capital to convince you. the capital where you know, where you live, where they live. neighborhood ... sometimes, when a sort of sun is shining, i can retrospect myself. through the light rising retrospected flies around so yes, i was trying to say something when ... it happened as usual happenings happens all the time
... as usual
distracting me / dislocating me and, with me, the city. cityhome flattering home. as usual
reading a sound and its multiples changes, listening to some decipher trends, heareading produced products heareading produced products. heareading produced products. heareading produced products. -
something to say as a valuable good, personal crack.
a cd from someone on the table. a cd designed by someone else. a cover, sleeve, everything. this cd — right data configuring sluggish data — mixtures both fields, but any external link is available; all htmls are in the right folder, everything under control. a formal missing is erased and features a traditional negligent missmaze.
right now mother + daughter via cell-phone . cipherpsychos ... can they modulate an interference of misunderstandings? right now two women talk and soft directions via radiation companies. multidimensional multilingual experience trough mum vs daughter. (telephone contract mediating the family)
/// dot aka comma
a tv + headphones waits someone who attends it. image + no external sound and still sunny
farcical enterprises and playgrounds' playboys playing whatever ... collirium eyebrows quoting expectations from them scrambled eggs toast toast scrambled eggs
flies around mum supporting dad, and him — as usual — acting. generational, maybe, but he performs as a man, sexism perceptions and receptions, developing genetic genres in generational packs. and mum supporting dad as usual a gentle microsoft corrector and its monopolenglish, soft wars reducing opportunities from the unsuspected polymorphism. polychovinism. polymonos ...
farcical breakfasters enterprising quoting plays collirium spectators of the playground playchild eyebrowing their faces closing their eyes scrambling their eyes toasting their eyes for them and the rest stamp-booking the sequence -
flies around using as usual as flies around the words — antworders, spiders and more antworders. frozen of dozen of frozen ants. dozen of mellicolupterus aka sort of tiny flies
the city, stillcity -
insect prosperity (a fancy funny proper prosperity)
BISHOP IS JAZZ, NERUDA IS POP Interview by Flávia Rocha Brazilian musician and Grammy 2002 nominee Luciana Souza seems to have found in poetry the universal language that helps her to balance the duality of living between two cultures. Poetry is as essential in her work as her Brazilian heritage and jazz – that she studied extensively (she has a B.A. in jazz composition from Berklee College of Music and a M.F.A from the New England Conservatory of Music). In a certain way, Luciana has been living her life in couplets – or duplets, as a musician would say – alternating in her albums influences from Brazilian music and jazz (Brazilian Duos, 2001; North and South, 2003, Sunnyside), and from poetry (The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs, 2000, Sunnyside; and a forthcoming album based on Pablo Neruda’s poems). The interview that follows took place in a summer morning in Manhattan, New York, where she lives. How is the process of adapting poetry into lyrics? It varies from poet to poet, from poem to poem. The Neruda album is a work in progress. I have set some poems to music, but had to eliminate a few of them, because they were too contrived, they were serving the poetry, not the music. I am not so concerned with the meaning of the text, since it is already there, in the poem. I have to look closer to the sound. With Neruda, sometimes, I have to change the line-breaks, turn couplets into triplets, and so forth. But with Bishop’s poems, I felt their rhythm as I read them. I am trained in percussion, and that helped me to define if the poem would be set to a slow or fast rhythm. In Sonnet, for instance, it was immediate. I started playing it on the piano, and singing, over and over again, until I could find the right music. In Insomnia, I thought it upfront. I wanted it to be repetitive, monotonous, to reflect the hypnotic feeling of not being able to sleep. I am almost reciting this poem, not singing.
How do you know when to interfere and when to let intuition do the work? When I am thinking about poetry and music, the purest thing that comes in my mind is usually what I will like in the end. I try not to repress the first impulses. I have a tape recorder and a minidisk next to my piano, so I can listen to what I have done while “fooling around”. I collect these cells, and it is only after I got something satisfying that I apply on it the wonderful methods I learned at school. How are you conceptualizing your Neruda album? I want my Neruda album to be pop. I don’t want it to be a jazz album. I sing Neruda’s poems in some tracks, and work with the music of a Catalan composer, Frederic Mompou (what I call “Mompou poetry”), in other tracks. The Mompou work is going to be wordless, just voice and music. The album will be simple, direct and immediate – it will be pop. In the Bishop album, I wanted to play jazz; I was then very connected with jazz. Will you continue to make music from poetry? Do you have other poets in mind? I think I will live in cycles. Now I want Brazilian music, now I want poetry… I have worked on poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, but didn’t record them yet. I would like to put into music poems by Octavio Paz, Maiakovski, Rilke (but Rilke everyone has been doing), and others. When did you start to read poetry? For a long time I didn’t have much interest in poetry, but my mother, who is also a musician, always read us poetry at home. The best present she gave me was a volume of Drummond’s complete works. She gave me many books by authors of fiction and poetry: José Saramago (who I only partially like), Manuel Bandeira, Cora Coralina. My first contact with Bishop was also through one my mother’s gifts, The Diary of Helena Morley. It is a beautiful, and funny book. Once, talking my mother on the phone about a problem, all she had to say was: “Go and read Drummond’s Dissolução”. I got a bit frustrated with her, for not talking to me directly. But when I read the poem, I knew that it was what she wanted to say, but couldn’t, because Drummond had said it already. ‹~›
EVEN THE SMALLEST HESITATION
Everything, once, was worthy of belief. If it snowed, it must have been cold. If the snow melted, the day must have warmed in the afternoon sun, maybe spring had come, who knows?
Courage: not quite a cure nor yet a curse — instead a stage you reach, the Age of Courage, your heel-digging getting even worse; more insistently you’re the one idiotic sage rewriting theories, allowing no record to be dire enough, no tendency so strong, no cost so huge you can’t afford to risk it, no wait too hopeless or too long. And you call it courage — to encourage the un-ideal, indulge the self-indulgent, to redesign the wheel. Then all the lectures and the observations are for naught — you go for low probabilities, conjectures, against everything you have been taught — And call it “Courage: neither curse nor cure”; all for that one commodity that no one can insure. …
Your hands fell inarticulate with joy, remember? and a single shiny coin waited to be found in the deepening grass, never mind the wild strawberries, bitter and bent upon avenging every cubic inch of ground. Even now, one blows kisses at the heavens and the clouds part. Heedful, obedient clouds. The minute fate warps a little arch you can demand something of it, you always have, the way you demanded once that the sea cast up a perfect shell or polished piece of Roman glass, and it did. It does. So, when at night a gibbous moon slides filaments of silver light through your shutters, and you will the season to be summer and summer it is, with summer’s ceaseless sawing of crickets to bind you, lying on your back with your eyes wide open and the moonlight in them, trying to remember the coincidence of telling her yes, you loved her, and at the same moment meaning it, it may have sounded, you’ll admit, peremptory, even brusque.
GUIDE TO THE CATHEDRAL
CLAIRE MALROUX MIDSUMMER, YORK MINSTER
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
Mais à l’air libre jamais aussi libre qu’en ce jour
Il y a ces cadavres de femmes Cousus d’avance dans des linceuls noirs
Here we have a small cathedral, made like prayer from natural materials. See, the floors and sills have been composed of blood and excrement, with wine in varying amounts according to the workmen’s whim. Observe the gleaming doors and wreath-ringed pillars; note the glass in the confessional, bluer than a newborn’s eye and clear as snowmelt. The gilded spire’s a miracle of engineering, and archways trimmed in gold contain the fire that leaps and sings but does not consume. Floral arrangements are replaced daily. These are particularly lovely, textured white lilies and red tulips with little stripes of dark blue, and flounces at the edge. You might like to know the carved stone roses were made by prisoners in need of something beautiful.
Ribbons of geese, and the sky in violent disagreement with itself, like churches. Downpour, sun, the rain of concert bells over the city glittering on air,
Ecroulés sur les dossiers des fauteuils
Libellule Demoiselle A` cause de son jeune visage?
Ou pendant au-dessus comme des loques
Les yeux ne regardent rien Les vrais sont peut-être derrière la tête
the open yard of the cathedral a stage for the profane: hubbub of tour-groups, men in medieval gear, games erupting into laughter, lovers leaning into one another.
Tournés vers la rivière et le village en ruine
Leur souffle oté en une fraction de seconde
Tandis que la rame fait son bruit
Par le gaz de l'Exterminateur
De torrent mécanique
La langue francaise recule devant ce terme
Voices rise through clear gold light and summer air to the fourth floor of my hotel at the edge of a square in the shadow of the Minster. I lean out the window
Deux longs bâtons
Comme si elle savait que l’Ange seul
Minces comme des canons de fusil
Peut s ’arroger le droit de mort
(Aujourd’hui plus question de triques)
Moi je voudrais que dans aucune langue
Dépassent de la banquette
Ce terme ne puisse avoir de féminin
Parle d “agents de désinfection”
on the longest day of the last year of the millennium, the cathedral performing one of its fundamental offices: I am a dot at the glass in a wall of brick beneath the blue.
Ou elle est assise sans bouger
An archway older than my native county frames the view. At four o’clock, as if called, I fly down oddly angled stairs, cross the square, and pause before the door of the cathedral.
Patiente dans l’attente
Epinglée pour un trajet Sans douleur malgre les cahots
De la métamorphose Pour l’heure rudimentairement assemblée
Dragonfly damselfly Because of her girlish face? Her eyes stare at nothing Perhaps the real ones are behind her head Turned toward the stream the ruined village While the subway makes its Mechanical torrent’s noise
Par un apprenti demiurge
Beneath great silent vaults of time and stone brocade what does she feel, this woman, visitor and Jew? As if she were a peasant, unlettered and afraid.
Avec des allumettes Volées dans la boîte a` feu Et des slogans de paradis Longs bras appuyés sur les longues cuisses Ou elle n’étreindra rien ni personne Sa tête un hangar bruissant
Two long slender rods Like rifle-barrels (No question, any longer, of cudgels) Jut out from the seat Where she sits, motionless Pinned in place for the journey In no pain, despite the jolting
De grenades de stocks d’armes a` mire Et d’échardes de miroirs sur les sols defoncés Attirail d'une Parque frais eclose ` Loin si loin entre les levres serrées la goutte de lait *
Patient as she awaits Metamorphosis For the moment brusquely assembled By an apprentice demiurge Out of matches
Et ce matin dans un theâtre (mais en était-ce un?) Tandis que de jeunes soldats maussades piétinent sous la pluie glacée Regrettant leur lit et le petit verre de vodka du week-end
... Stolen from the tinderbox And war-cries of paradise
CONCETTINA McCAULEY COMATOSE Neither love nor tolerance Holds me here, between seasons,
Long arms rest on her long thighs Within which she will clasp nothing and no one Her brain a hangar buzzing With grenades, stocks of long-range rifles And shards of mirror on rutted floors Paraphernalia of a newly-hatched Fate
Where boredom is worn to shadow, The blood still licking its path of habit, The heart holding a soul by a thin string Like a helium balloon,
Far so far away between her clenched lips a drop of milk * And this morning inside a theater (if that is what it was) While sullen young soldiers stamp around it beneath cold rain Missing their beds, the weekend’s shot-glass of vodka But in the open air, never so open as today There are those women’s corpses Sewed up in advance in black shrouds Slumped against the backs of plush seats Or hanging over them like rags
My friends divide the evening times. My mother comes clutching her stale charms, Her crucifix, her handkerchief Dipped in blessings, dutifully Anointing the already laid out, A daughter who has simply dried up. The mind full of names of things, Recipes, triganometry,
Beetles cockroaches Their breath extracted in a moment By the gas of the Exterminator The French language recoils before that term Instead cites “disinfecting agents” As if it knew only the Angel May claim the right to mete out death And I, language’s disciple, wish that in none of them Could that substantive have a feminine.
Has blackened to a thick ash Leaving the smoke of an updraft. Shall we discuss incessantly my bad, bad luck? Shall we each try to guess what it is
NIGHTFALL — SO BRIEFLY HERE This takes place in Tuscany in the Giardino dei Tarocchi created by Niki do Saint Phalle
The scene opens onto candelabras and wedding music It's that time of the year when grass has dried but the crickets still sing Every possible detail has been an effort Most of the invited guests have arrived dressed appropriately: the World the Fool Sun the Devil I spot the Great Juggler and the Hangman Wheel of Life Resurrection and Choice Past Star Moon and the Angel of Moderation I see Death is portrayed as a shining golden woman riding a bright blue horse on a pedestal covered with broken mirrors in which we scarcely recognize each other
No ceremony can begin without the witnesses but now for me to love you that of course all this time your secrets and your shortcomings I pledge myself silently sincerely and elaborately yours in this our story of
I have become, whether I will wake up Or walk straight into the sun? I am drowned and bathing in slow words Which will not sound. I am Drowned and mouthing rescues to you Across an empty sea. Each time I speak It only seems to steam that plate Of glass that stands between us. The evening train constantly swallows its own Departure. Lights grow dim in a distant town.
The guests and bystanders are wanting to get started Hangman eyes Moon slightly Star wants to resurrect again and the Fool simply can't shut up Everyone's waiting for the revelers afterwards and hoping for an adventurous nightlong
They cared about us and we them So it was important that we did it (I can see that now) that we played our hand to inner peace and paradise in their company.
Translated from the Portuguese by Idra Novey and Flávia Rocha
No fundo, é compreensível que uns se percam no mar
mar maiúsculo na contraluz pedras ilhas
outros na Abissínia de puro sol e argila.
horizonte que some num risco —
Viver nas dunas porém cedo ou tarde intoxica
tanta praia dói na vista dói além de qualquer medida
e o mundo é só areia areia a perder de vista
presente sempre vivo além da própria vida
— Rimbaud no deserto ruminando sem saída:
De que lado da morte a areia espia? da infância
onde inicia o poema? onde termina?
mal despida? do futuro infinitivo? Esta praia
se tudo em volta é poeira poeira e um pouco de azia.
— de um a outro extremo, o traço seco de um destino. *
upper case sea counter-light of stones and islands
Indeed it’s comprehensible that some go astray in the sea
horizon that vanishes into the slightest trace —
and others in Abyssinia, of pure sun and clay.
so much beach tires my eyes beyond measure.
Sooner or later life on the dunes becomes intoxicating
A living gift more alive than life itself.
and the world is all sand sand indefinitely
From which side of death does the sand watch? from barely
— in the desert, Rimbaud says there is no way out:
uncovered childhood? from the infinitive future? This beach
where does the poem begin? where does it end?
— from edge to edge, the dry trace of a destiny.
if everything around is dust dust and a bit of nausea. *
Ou quem sabe menos do que isso: apenas uma pista, um indício
O mar as pedras as ilhas
Or perhaps it is less than this: just a clue, a vestige
The sea the stones the islands
do horizonte a ser inscrito pedra a pedra, ilha a ilha.
— horizonte que principia na ilha do olhar.
of the horizon that will be traced on each stone, on each island.
— horizon that begins within the eyes’ scope
Mas como equilibrar numa só linha o mar e seu vocábulo
Como o bicho do marisco, agarrado à rocha, procriando,
But how to balance on a single line the sea and its name
Like the mollusk attached to a rock, procreating
— se um é para os olhos outro para a língua?
quem sabe quanto é estranho riscar em linguagem
— if one is for the eyes and the other for the tongue?
who knows how strange it is to trace a love in language
Até o poema esse animal submarino
um amor que sequer significa: apenas é, age? Afinal,
Even the poem this submarine animal
that doesn’t even mean: it just is, acts? The sea after all
morre afogado quando arrasta à superfície
o mar é só seu ser de água nenhuma língua o resgata
dies, drowns when it drags to the surface
is only a body of water no language can rescue it
apenas água água e seus resquícios.
da paz precária desse marulhar.
only water water and its residue.
from the precarious accord that is this roaring.
THE PATRIOT ACT, USA
TO REPAIR A BROKEN WORLD
CROCHETING IN FOUR STEPS
Mike Hawash Has disappeared Been taken away by men In bullet proof vests Charged with no crime Thrown into solitary confinement
Go forth on a mission Riding high on a donkey's back Place smooth hands on a dying child's cheek Restore the wind of his soul Wake him now from the dead
1. The Color
4. The Wool
Know this: You will end up hating it. Halfdone, the blanket will wind through your sleep in marled blue, horse-blanket blue, a shower of chaff in the barnlight, red-flecked like the roan you dreamed of riding. You wake to solid white.
Try not to cry. The world is full of things like this. In the morning, you know the sheep are rising like everyone else, and that is living enough. At night, try not to think of shears, or pens, or moonlight speckled through a ruined roof. Say if they lived with you, you’d take only what they brushed off on a bush. You’d watch them from the house, clipping the hill like razors. You’d never presume to call them yours.
Pluck homeless lives up from the streets Wash their wounds with a kiss Fill their hearts with crushed flowers Feed them loaves of bread and fish Give them beds where they may dream
No one has heard from Mike Hawash No one knows Exactly where he is Or why he was kidnapped While on his way to work
To preserve the spirits of the earth Petition the universe overhead Speak in tongues toward the East WILL an end to trees' demise Bow before a wilderness
Mike Hawash is a middle class Married man who owns a home In Oregon, USA He has brought three children Into the world
Rub the sea's anger away Promise to spend time remembering The love shared The gentle walks taken on her back
But Mike Hawash Was stolen in broad daylight From middle American streets Disappeared for no one knows why Sent into a black silence
Meditate in desserts for world peace Burn incense encased in vessels of alabaster In Buddha temples Chant on for years and years
And Mike was never charged Never given a trial Never given due process Never heard his Miranda Rights
As the light of the stars in a glimpse Freely give a spark of love to a friend
2. The Hook An oar pulling the water. Pull the face of it through, pull the night behind you. Set the face of it down. Rest. Your hands must learn the language of water, where it ends, where the air begins, where the dock is waiting, stoic, hushed, a placid pole that wants the rope.
SAMUEL MENASHE GHOST AT THE WAKE
For all I know Of love and woe My all and all Forgoes no feast Or show of grief For me, his ghost At this banquet — He eats the most And yet he weeps For now he knows I’m his, for keeps.
3. The Knot Build them alike, and they’re an auspicious chain, as if you never planned to pull them apart, as if the knot were the aim and not a mistake made over.
On a sunny work day Mike Hawash Became a man in Latin America Was transformed into an Afghani Was hurled back to Palestine By the FBI In the U.S. of A.
... cocooned in blankets and dangling from the rusty jungle gym in the backyard, some days it’s all the cocaine I can do to
THIS IS YOUR FATHER ...
keep from climbing up to ask how long it will be before she turns into a butterfly like she promised us all in that note in town to attend the Promise Breakers convention and I’d like to meet with you, Gabe, for just one minute or if not that then 30 seconds, though be warned this message fleshing out the delicate details will last considerably longer and most likely consist of a number of installments unless you have Call Eternity, the limitless storage option offered by Sprint, I do and your sister Sandy calls almost every Sunday to read me the Crime and Punishment riot act, 500 or so raging pages I’ve nearly memorized by now, least I think it’s Crime, could be Sister’s Karamazov, somescreamingthing anyway, chock full of ellipses which she imitates by beeping beeping beeping, but enough about seething Sandy, we’ve just begun a very difficult negotiation and it’s important you know right off the bat that I’ll gladly make all the compromises, that’s right, not an issue I won’t bend or give in on because I’m the one with the most to gain, Barry Queen of Scots locked in a Hyatt atrium of speculation ever since you cut off contact 12 years, 3 months, 34 days, 12 hours, 38 minutes and 29 seconds ago according to the stopwatch I clicked the moment you slammed down the receiver, listen: (tick-tick-tick-tick-ticktick-tick), carry the thing everywhere because I’m sick-sick-sick-sick-sick-sick-sick of cowards who go into denial when this sort of thing happens, pretend they never had a son when instead they should be embracing their abandonment and learning how to become better betrayers by joining a local Promise Breakers chapter and attending the monthly meeting that begins with the uncrossed fingers salute and ends with the halving of the neckties of all those who fail to provide written or video proof of two new broken promises, support for non-supporters, dues that never come due and a yearly convention in a big backstabbing city, if you could only see what I’m seeing at now, Gabe! — comely kiosks bursting with the latest promise breaking paraphernalia — faux legal forms — pyramids of piss yellow copies of Phone Taps For Dummies — exercise machines designed to develop the evasion muscles and flowing around that gleamgrecian apparatus, hordes of disingenuous conventioneers clutching Unwelcome bags full of child poison and singing the club anthem “O Thou, Forget What I Said,” not to mention switching room keys and wives, turning the concierge around in circles, requesting a limo for noon, no, make that eleven, no, eleven-thirty, on second thought eight in the morning and two limos, on third thought a mango VW bug and a bloodhound at midnight, and on and on, pity the staff here I really do, they’re in for it for weeks because when the Promise Breakers contract for a three day convention it means a residency of at least a month, room service nervous breakdowns, maids tearing off wigs over the Do Not Disturb Signs that really mean Please By All Means Disturb and the bare doorknobs that mean Don’t Dare Come In I’m Coming, to say nothing of the bartenders stuck with tabs in the thousands of dollars, two of those poor bastards have already fled the Skyline Bar where a hundred of my beerethren are currently ensconced in chairs with towering leather backs shaped like buildings — Empire State, Chrysler, Rockefeller Plaza — here comes the Jack who’s been engaged 52 times and never stepped on the alter yet, Hi Jack — you nasty lying gnat!, and behind him Dick who has been married 152 times and never stepped off the altar, Hi Dick — you dirty tax trick!, nicer pair of scoundrels you’ll never meet, proud I am to count myself as one of them and you too, Gabe, that’s right!, I’m PROUD of you for jilting me in such a complete and devastating way!, that’s the liberating news I bring today: THERE IS NOTHING FOR EITHER OF US TO BE ASHAMED OF!, what you’ve got to do is accept your SHAMELESSNESS because it isn’t easy what you’ve done, it takes skill and stamina, anyangrybody can slam the phone down like you did on August 3, 1989, at 9:31 pm EST but it’s the rare bird of prey who resists rekindling the connection, lordinheaven knows I’ve struggled with that in terms of your poor mother,
she left on the kitchen table, Dear Family, I will never again be available to answer questions or do housework because I dreamed last week that my fate is not to be a Mom but a Monarch butterfly floating free on the currents of the wind, black and orange wings, two elegant antennas and a deep attachment to a certain meadow in South America ... 18 years she’s been incubating to no avail!, but be that as it may, I’m quite sure you’ve hatched slash blossomed slash thrived slash flourished slash nourished while away from my toxic clay and become — how could it be otherwise? — the human you always wanted to be, note I said human not person, the former being more a general term and thus more fitting because I no longer have the slightest idea what your face looks like, Gabe, your image having vanished Poe-like from the family portrait on 1 A.D. (that is: day one after dial tone), not even an outline remaining!, just a shapeless white splotch of a son, showed that photo to a priest and he theorized you were a member of a cult or maybe even Satan himself and Jesus did I set him straight!, shouting what a good terrible person you are, how giving and hating and caring and selfish and sharing and staring, now, at the answering machine, with whatever color eyes you have, maybe even running fingers through black or red or somecombothereof hair, bound to be quite a shock that I was able to log onto the Internet and learn not only your current phone number but also the address of the Ready Steady Copy Shop where you work Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm and your credit card numbers and petty criminal record (shame on you for jaywalking!) and even the name of your favorite seafood restaurant, Shrimp on a Shingle, where you have been dining alone for almost thirteen years, amazing tool that Web, in a few minutes I downloaded all your medical records, including complete documentation of that case of the clap you got from yourself, first instance of auto-VD-infection in the history of mankind!, but not unheard of in worms, very common in bait buckets from Florida to Maine, and perhaps that is where our five second conversation could begin because I too am afflicted with a strange medical disorder, my pockets full of medicines made of ground beef and apricot pits and chalk dust, a regimen designed to ward off the devastating relaxation attacks I am subject to, relaxation attacks being the converse of the paralyzing panic attacks you referred to in our last conversation right before calling me a breathing abyss or was it a heaving abyss? or a black snow ball rolling down hill?, anyway ... where was I?, oh yes, letting you in on the nasty little secret that you are listening to a man clad in a full body diaper to protect against the inevitable result of relaxation attacks, which are triggered whenever I hear someone say a word syllabically similar to father,“ ... can’t believe this weather ... ” a guy complains and I drop to the sidewalk, a limp heap of cut-rate cotton, liquids squirting from all orifices, a condition I’ve apparently suffered from every since I became a father, although in the beginning the symptoms weren’t as noticeable since there was always a recliner there to catch me and a strong fecal smell in the house from Sandy’s cats, all of which I know probably sounds like a lameashellexcuse for my lacksadaisical approach to parenthood but it’s not an excuse I’m making, no, I take full responsibility for skipping Open House and causing all the teachers to think you were an orphan and also for letting the house fall into such ruin that two bedrooms were lost to the ants and termites and neither is there any letting me off the hook for buying all the weekly groceries at McDonald’s and, worst of all, delegating delicate birds and bees instruction to Bob Guccioni by renting Caligula for you and Sandy to watch one Saturday afternoon, all of that and more is my fault even though I was at the time subject to paralyzing relaxation attacks — one each time you asked a simple question like “Father, won’t she choke?” and “Father, when will mother hatch?” and “Father, can I have a dollar
to go to 7-11 and buy some pesticide?” or even made an innocent statement like “I wish we had a tetherball.” — a sen-
certain to ruin my trip, not to mention this full body diaper, which cost $120, but I’m willing to risk that financial loss
tence which my Cerebral Cortez warped into “I wish we had a fatherball,” just as yesterday I heard “waterfall” as “father-
because you are in trouble, and how do I know you are in trouble?, because like your mother I have dreams too, or rather
ful” and “fascination” as “fatherson,” hell, even reading the word father can empty my bowels, lower case or upper case
one reoccurring dream in which you stick your hand into my chest and take out my heart and shake it like an empty
it doesn’t matter, which maybe you already know, being so good at inferring things, never will forget that big green capital
toner cartridge and then reinsert it, thereby causing one last loving look to cross my face, O Gabe!, that look is waiting for
G you put on all your socks, along with our street address and phone number, just in case a tornado touched down in
you now at the Hyatt, less than a mile from your apartment, so why hesitate?, I know the reason — your fragile status quo,
the closet, a prophet’s gift for apocalypse!, prepared for every awful eventuality!, making an ash tray in ceramics class as
which I picture as a little town of carved soap buildings sitting in a bathtub under the acidic spray from a
soon as I stopped smoking — betting quite correctly I’d take up the habit again by Father’s Day and then there was the
shower nozzle shaped like my head, but what can I do to hurt you here in this lobby that I have not already done or
Saturday you washed all those sheets and blankets, somehow knowing mother would need them the next morning to
am not now doing? I promise not to move, to wear a hair shirt under the diaper and a leather mask over my face, even
weave her cocoon, you knew us better than we knew us, Gabe!, and that’s why being out of touch, well, it’s been like spir-
handcuffs, there’s a hip store across the street that sells them, False Freedom Is No Freedom reads the sign out front and
itual amputation, though I must admit there have been a few upsides, never would have gotten to know all your old high
inside are hundreds of designer restraining devices, silver, gold, wood, on the way in from JFK saw many self-shackled
school friends if I hadn’t started cruising the local bars for a substitute son, Bob Casey is a such delightful loser, never met
young people crossing the street and more in parks — cuffed to benches and fences, possibly you are chained to your
as interesting a bore as Tom Shrebs or so kind a whore as your first girlfriend Dallie, not that she’s
bed as you listen to this, straining against an idealistically imposed bondage, trying to barf up the key you washed down
anything like the real thing, no, your son’s old girlfriend is just not your son no matter how often you fuck her in the ass,
at lunch with a shot of vitamin water, O Gabe!, let’s be sensible!, the jailer is no freer than the jailed!, take your
after the 28th fruitless foray I gave up on that route and we’re just friends again, which you’ll probably find relieving,
cocoonatose mother, bird dung and twigs sticking to the blankets and sheets, radio antenna sticking out the air hole, has
though I must admit I’ve recently begun courting your second girlfriend Suzanne, hope springing eternal, and maybe
there been any peace for any of us since that incubation started?, we are as wrapped up in that infernal process as she
with her it will be different, she does have a much more pliable face, lips that stretch like rubber bands and form all sorts
is!, remember how you used to sleep below the cocoon so you wouldn’t miss the emergence of the dazzling Momarch?,
of interesting fellative shapes, birds, dogs, bears, even sharks, Sue who told me to give you her huggywuglove, which
how you convinced your science teacher to bring the class on a field trip to our backyard?, how you saved all your lawn
doesn’t mean you have to take it, no, not at all, last thing I want to do is force anything down your throat, this meeting
mowing money and bought a light bulb changer so you could drop bunches of grapes into her air hole?, remember the
included, time and place and ground rules are all your call, no handshake is fine, no direct eye contact, no closer than
solemn promise never to abandon her to the starlings and the predatory reporters that periodically mass on the grass
eight feet, even bring your therapist along if that’s what makes you most comfortable, Sandy had two bodyguards with
and try to force her out with heat lamps and calipers?, I do!, and that’s why I’m going to submit your name to the
her last time I visited Chicago and those boys had a great time roughstuffing me after I pointed out that research at the
Promise Breaker’s Hall of Fame committee!, how perfectly you’d fit in at that museum in Can’ton with turncoats like
Understand Your Parents Institute in Kansas has proven without a doubt that there are no painful truths, not in our
Benedict Arnold and George Bush and Walter O’Malley and the Miss. America who started a drug cartel with her
family, not in any family, pain — yes, truth — yes, but no painful truths because the two concepts are mutually
winnings and the senator who promised the nation no more Miss. Americas an hour before being discovered wearing
exclusive, truth being the absence of pain, feelingless and unclouded and clear in the way an ice cube is clear, a fact Sandy
Miss South Dakota on his face and the C.E.O. who laid off 12,000 employees less than a day after swearing to the Texas
and the boys weren’t quite ready to hear, boom, bang, smack, ended up flat on my back on Rush Street, vomiting hot
governor that no cuts were necessary, a man after your own heart, for like you, he too managed to break all his promises
buttered rum and feeling very dumb and happy, for my darling gal looked good!, or at least the parts I saw peeking out
in one second!, (cough) throat a little dry ... better get a drink ... walking across the lobby ... entering the Skyline (peals
from behind the guards, a healthy elbow, a rosy patch of cheek, which reminds me, if you want to pull a J. Paul Getty
of laugher, tinkling of ice and glasses), sitting down in the Empire State Building chair with the 18 foot illuminated back,
and cut off an ear and send that over to the Hyatt in lieu of a full appearance go right ahead, anyway you want to work
makes me feel quite like King Kong, not that I’m out to destroy or usurp your city, not at — GABE! that you! GABE!?,
it, thumb or nose or the whole you, midnight or noon, the goat pen at the Central Park zoo or the middle of the FDR
sorry, ma’m, mistook you for my estranged son, an honest mistake having nothing to do with any manliness in your
Drive or even California or France or Bolivia, great thing about this convention is that no one is expected to attend the
appearance but rather that you were with an older distinguished looking man, see it’s quite possible my boy has called
workshops they sign up for, which means I’m free as a water snake to slither where you wither or to stay here in this
one of those family of choice agencies sometime over the last 12 years, 3 months, 34 days, 13 hours, 5 minutes and 48
orboid lobby for ten hours or ten days, awaiting the arrival of whoever you are, ace screenwriter or dishwasher or
seconds and gotten himself a replacement father, a man decent in a way I am not, and if so, he’d certainly want to prom-
gigolo or botanist or some combothereof, never did quite decipher the connection between the pen perpetually clutched
enade this superior Daddy in front of me, flaunt, so to speak, his catch, a natural instinct given the primality of the fam-
in your right hand and the bicycle frame wound with flowered wallpaper, perhaps those daisies were just a phase and
ily structure, nice talking to you, ma’m, and you too, Gabe, good luck in whatever you — WAIT!, another option occurs!,
you are now a stockbroker who lifts weights and eats only the freshest swordfish, whatever, it really doesn’t matter,
what about we just miss each other at this bar tomorrow afternoon?, you arrive at 3:00 and sit in the Empire chair until
because in the two seconds we have together there will only be time for contact in the NASA sense of the word, a fleeting
4:00 and I arrive at 4:05, just in time to miss you?, at least then I’d have the privilege of sitting on a
and useful exchange of static, note I said useful not pleasurable, because I don’t intend to enjoy seeing you, no, it is
son-warmed cushion, an experience which — and this is no lie — would mean as much as anything else. ‹~›
DANIEL THOMAS MORAN RECALLING PIPESTONE MINNESOTA, SHE SAID …
JON MOOALLEM ON VISITING THE UNIVERSITY OF BOLOGNA (Alma Mater of Dante Alighieri)
The sailfish on the wall above the door Of Doctor Fortescue’s reception room was arced forever at the summit of its leap. While waiting for the test or shot, the doctor’s probing touch and frown, I watched the great fin soar and hang. Its sail was ribbed, extended like a fan that sawed the air. I puzzled on a link between the fish and medicine. The trophy showed the doc had traveled to the tropics, trolled the deep. But was the arcing bolt of blue a sign also of some mysterious tie between the art of healing and the secret depths? Or was the monster stuffed a symbol of the power of knowledge over flood and drowning? I studied the sleek prize’s needle lip and steeled myself to face the certain dart.
That’s what it looked like where I was born. Two dimensions. The austere geometry. The distances intersecting at right angles. A landscape stricken of elevation. Yes, there was a greening when the June sun lifted the corn and rye. Yes, there were the trickles of water over gentle rises. Yes, we rocked ourselves as the prairie winds weaved through the poplars. But the summer died young and when the sky turned steely in December, it left a whiteness that was deep and endless. And we burned what we could to stay warm. And in the long nights little girls dreamed.
When these falling leaves were buds, we argued commas. Insisting on semicolons or full stops between ideas, I whined and nothing calmed me. For micro-points of ink my nerves would pop. One night I caught a ride on Mingus music. I grabbed his swinging pendulum and swayed, losing grammar, stealing bliss from movement. Propulsion made pedantic static fade. Then you led me tingling through a barbed-wire fence to Kinsey’s backyard. By a dildo fountain we cut our minds and let our bodies dance. Dipped and done, we parsed a moonlit mountain. Now our brittle colors fall with towers. That rocking change was never really ours.
So this is where he sat, the little shyster, and often through this whitewashed marble hall he lugged his heavy flesh. His veiny eyes stirred, two pallid orbs beneath a blackened shawl. Each time his woolen cloak and teeth crept by a few professors stiffened, hugged the wall. We know he must have done the reading, tried to join a team or after-school committee. But those are awkward years for boys. Besides: the chess club’s nothing but a well of pity; debate, a horde of hopeless sinners. The heat welds lust to pious souls in this godless city. Her name was Beatrice. He engraves it neatly in his leg, woos her eating thorns, leaves a beating hog heart on her seat. She shrieks, avoids him in the stairwell. Forlorn, he drafts her endless reams of verse and fables. Love: that loveless, wheezing, gasps for scorn. But this is where he sits, a pinewood table not unlike the rest. The fickle things he tends to miss. While his teacher babbles he’s busy carving nine concentric rings; a heap of rotting men, their wives filleted and skewered with hulking rectal spikes. He sings and giggles, brushing wood chips off his blade, when something vile hovers, clears its throat. “And might we have a look at what you’ve made?”
The noise festival in breed 2003 of is in its second outing, There’s a fine young poets in Australia taking theirfirst words pubs, emerging in to 2001 to publishers, showcase the the radio, creative and stores. Encouraging to listenthis arebig, workrecord of young Australians. noiseussearches Media (publishers organisations long, wide andlike tall Express country for works by youngof peoVoiceworks magazine) and Going Down Swinging ple 25 and under, from drawings to music to anima(an annual book/CD hybrid). In 2003 they’ve comtion to text, and publishes their work in print, on telbined their passions with the media might of evision, on radio, and on the internet. Poetry in the national noise festival to create a CD of Australia has a long, wide, tradition, drawing on a spoken word by Australians 25 years and under multitude of cultures and be traditions from Mouthpiece, which will slipped into called Dreamtime to pop! There’s a new breed of poets Voiceworks (Sept.'03). The noise festival profiles in Australia who aren’t for media. the publishers young Australian artistswaiting across the In 2001 to take notice – eschewing the printed page, they’re noise received over 10,000 submissions from artists taking their to thefrom stage, to radio, and to CD, working with work everything paintbrushes to turntables, and created exhibition spaces forvenues, them in on performing in slams, pubs, galleries, print, on radio and television. October radio online, and television, and on recording their voice / noise 's third incarnation. WhatExpress you 2003 be for musicwill mixes instant headphone access. have here is but a fraction of the energy and sheer Media, the publisher of “Voiceworks” magazine creative exhalation of young Australian voices that (which publishes art and words by young people will appear on the Mouthpiece CD, and in a noise nationally) got together with Going Down Swinging, text anthology. These voices are exciting, fresh, an annual book/cd release, to gather the best of the tenacious — in some cases it’s their first time — I continent’s young performance for a CD. The know it won’t be their last. —poets Lisa Greenaway noise festival leapt into the mix and together we’ve Spoken Word Project Coordinator, noise festival produced “Mouthpiece”, showcasing 25 new pieces of performance poetry by poets 25 and under from right around the country. These voices are exciting, Carly Dryga (excerpt from "Thoughts")
FROWNING DOWN THROUGH THE CHIMNEY Frowning down through the chimney Finger-thick lips as full as the gutters, leafy and dry Woolly hair whisked up by the wind, egg-beater style Swollen bellied, red nose and spine Arms curled into my hips Indignant Flaking, fading fast, embarrassed, thinly veiled In pink velveteen, socks without shoes, bra-less Cosmetic rhetoric jittering in the air Spilled beer competing for carpet space below Laying low, underlay, more astute than I Huddled around our double-brick camp fire Wispy smoke like those pictures on the fridge so long ago (The importance of remembering a thousand times said) I don’t forget things, things forget me Hummmm a few lines From a song I never learned and probably never heard Lick his face because I know he hates it And show him freshly masticated food I look at the other roof-tops And wonder Why isn’t everyone else on theirs
fresh, tenacious, new, in some it’sIStheir MYcases MIND FULLfirst time – I know it won’t be their last.
Has your head ever been so full you have to get some of what’s Lisa Greenaway Spoken Word Project Coordinator in there, out? NOISE FESTIVAL Just make it go away for a while. Make some room for the new. www.noise.net.au Writing is a good way to move, shift, expel thoughts. Just thinking about things isn’t enough, cause they stay in there and then you’re back where you started. Too full. Talking can help. If not to someone then to yourself, or someone you imagine is there. You have to do it out loud though or you’re back to where you started. Thinking.
MOOT POINT it’s a moot point, you said and I nodded, inwardly straining every neuron to find this word in my vocab. I searched through ‘Moog point’, the place where one finds a 70s organ (not of the Dirk Diggler 10-inch variety). ‘mute point’ seemed senseless, a tautology – how much sound can the stretching of a finger really make? as for ‘moat point’, only in the context of a debate on protective water features, 76
and our discussion included none. ‘Moo point’ offended, an obvious attack on my bullish conversational manner. perturbed, I voiced my ignorance. startled, he too admitted the phrase had flowed unchecked.
Rustlings of wildlife and birdcalls Hearing only cars On a suddenly closer main road No longer shielded by a cloak of trees And smelling exhausts Where gum leaves had fallen.
making amends, we agreed it was one of those things which was debatable and should be raised in later discussion.
OF LIPS AND LOVE Girls, like didgeridoos, are filled with hollowness. Nebulous, ancient anti-matter, music made from nothingness: just lips, and love.
DEVELOPMENT I look out at what was once Bushland. All trees and birds That visited my garden This street used to end here Like a lookout The dark dense bush A black lake that refused to reflect the light
Girls, like didgeridoos, have anatomical memories. Instinctual dark spaces: weaving life out of lips, and love.
Children skip on bitumen Running to the gutters As cars skirt through You don’t need a backyard When you work on weekends Miniature dogs bark bravely Proving they can handle it outdoors
UNTITLED on the bus. this oh-so-cute tussled brown hair t-shirt wearing tall thing of a boy is standing talking to a girl in the seat in front of me. not directly, but to the left. he is casually holding onto the overhead rails with both hands. i steal a good long glance at the skin peeping above his low slung waistband. he tugs down his shirt. i didn’t think he noticed. maybe my stare bristled his snail trail.
The headlights of landcruisers return As streetlights blink into life. Families locked safely inside With their nightly news and microwave dinners look out At the shadowy stranger Standing by the powerlines That scrape at the sky.
GIRL WITH JACKET
I shiver and shrug And continue on my way Listening for the remembered
there is a girl holding her jacket over her nose. i cannot work out why. maybe there is a stink none of the other passengers can decipher. maybe it is the smell of her own 77
pain and we are too ignorant or lazy or tired or whatever to lift our heads off our self-absorbent chests to notice. to smell. to feel.
A gentle buzz. A polite gentle instruction. Another voice without a face. Another voice without a face. The electromagnetic pulse begins. It doesn’t surge, though. Not through me at least. Not through anyone else either. They all look so recycled. So used abused and lost. Faceless faces on bent necks contort to catch that final fleeting moment. They look like clowns. I wonder if I put fifty cents into their mouths, will they entertain me? Please stand clear, I think. Of what, I wonder. The quietness is more than politeness. It’s so quiet it thuds in my head. This is a hallucination and these faces are passing me by in a chimera. A computer generated environment. A fantasy island. A silicone dream. An electrical current. A buzz. Another voice without a face. Another voice without a face. A freeze framed pulse going clickety clack, clickety clack, clickety clack all lickety spit, confined and contrived, roboticneuroticpsychotic
or maybe she is picking her nose with her other hand and does not want us to see.
SUPER-MEGA When I start zooming into you The flickety-flack of a film reel starts And I’m wearing fat yellow subtitles on my skirt Underlining Undermining My expression Asking “Pardon me, but would you have a cigarette” When I don’t smoke Pouting suggestively in Parisian accents Though I’m fifth generation Australian And have no idea what je ne sais pas means
FINALE Did the room just darken and develop “atmosphere” Or is it still rush hour in another suburban shopping centre Can it be that your skin smells of hot buttered popcorn When you bring your choctop lips over here Oh I do hope you can be an European art-house double feature with plenty of barely relevant (though beautifully captured) sex appearing in the opening credits And not some five minute experimental badly animated short
“Now here’s a funny story for ya!” she chuckles watching me through her rear-vision mirror. “P-platers have this thing, right, where ya check each other out like, 'Cause you know you’re the same age and all.”
The brakes screech and we thud to a halt just a heartbeat from a woman on a crossing with her groceries and bite-sized dog tucked under her arm. She glares as she passes; my driver flips her hair, flares her nostrils snorts: “Look at me like that, lady And I will run you over”
Her words pour from her mouth as though liquid; bouncing in the slipstream of her train of thought speeding faster than a family car driven with distraction. She grimaces as the gears crunch; Her chunky-heeled shoes make us jerk as she takes off too quickly. “So I was at this red light,
Dunhill stick falls from her hand Long slender fingers shake. Self-control slips through like sand Rouged lips begin to quake.
yeah, and this dude on his Ps pulls up beside me. I sized him up, right, and he sized me up and it’s all fine and dandy-like.”
Nubile form in silken flaps Feet touch the littered floor. Kick aside blue condom wraps Tired eyes gaze at the door.
And a half-smile curls at her cracked but coloured lips. Her eyes glimmer with half-suppressed glee, her mismatched earrings jangle as she shakes her head.
Gathered clothes with silent care No trace of whom was there. Long drawn sigh at truth aware A final, fleeting stare.
“And I don’t know what he did, right, must have taken his foot off the brake, like, ‘cause he rolled on forward and hit the car in front — pulling his cool face all the while!”
Tousled soldier in dreamful sleep Makes treaties with the world. But promises cannot keep With golden band on finger curled
She laughs and begins to sing to her tape of driving songs. We’re lost in a warren of suburban streets; the geometric hedges and crisp-bordered gardens of petunias almost sneer at her dented ’80s relic — a mustard-brown Holden that gulps down leaded petrol and is dubbed “Scrap metal.”
She’d like to finish with a bang.
noise festival is an initiative of the Australian Federal Government and is managed by the Australian Council, its arts funding, and advisory body. http://www.noise.net.au Bios and more information about the special section in Rattapallax can be found at http://www.rattapallax.com/rattapallax10_issue.htm
STANCES OF ABSENCE
Tous les maux de l'enfer ne sont rien qu'une absence, reads DJ Spinoza.
DJ Spinoza invokes the dead poets :
We’ve come outside on the porch — to watch the storm roll across the sky, shatter
... we place our quarters on the railing, wagering on the precise moment the storm will arrive: 7:10, 7:11, 7:13. And here’s where the story ought to end: in the bright particulars of a single evening, in the wagering of one idea against another, in the way each night, we can fall in love with something arcane: the unreal glamour of fields, farms and American history — how it no longer
O dead poets Who wrote this? Was it you, Monsieur? Oui, Monsieur. Mais, Monsieur, que vous êtes vert! Franchement, Monsieur, je suis mort! Sir!!! I am so sorry! Please accept my most sincere condolences!
who rustle in the forest of books Who died by the rope dysentery, hunger suffocation in boxcars, lead Who beat on the floor like an eel and recanted
DJ Spinoza walks through The House for the Sublime. It is built of the Collective Unconscious. “He hadn’t quite finished this painting and you could see all his gestures, it had his entire vocabulary dots and dashes — that’s what it’s all made up of ” The dream of DJ Spinoza: He dreams he is himself.
Who lived to old age growing wisdom i.e. acceptance What is this death you talked about so often
you could say we were tired. You could say, all day,
if nothing else at least willful towards each other — the way a plant pushes up
the port of your trope
we picked the ripe strawberries, loaded flats onto trucks for the cannery, each flat shouldered
through the thick soil of resistance, the way water runs downhill to make a bed. Such small farms have come to be mere ornament — tourist and postcard sentiment, though inside they are hard and primitive as always. So we wait listening to the sky crack, our faces turned
You have no one to fight but yourself, DJ Spinoza! We cannot think, sing the dead poets We are unable to answer your question
The formula for the existence of DJ Spinoza cannot be demonstrated within the bounds of this calculus.
hang by one strap across his chest. He passes the Stoker Mints — first to Grandma, then to the rest of us in the family order, the youngest one’s blue dress sailed out like a curtain in a late afternoon breeze. Yes,
the black pun of your sunflower
THE UNDECIDABILITY OF DJ SPINOZA
over Sweethome, Halsey, Shedd, and then our own night wired with crickets. Grandad’s overalls
remains the same. But we are
as if we’d come back to claim what we hadn’t already: nights of stone cold dinners, a slammed door — or a hand raised to ward off words of advice even when the land refused to give a parcel. Air streams the field. Thunder and lightning
in the violet light, our hearts a fist of potted seeds. There is nothing so huge
battle the sky, and a breeze rolls up onto the porch, as the arguments of our lives shift from one foot to another
Luckily, the formula for the non-existence of DJ Spinoza cannot be demonstrated within this calculus either.
in our lives, except for the land taking it all in in its open hands, its open mouth. When we leap laughing from the porch, rain nails the roof.
in their buried weight. We count seconds between strikes of lightning, slugs of thunder —
God, that was a close call! thinks DJ Spinoza.
SOME NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF EMPIRES
CAROLINE SINAVAIANA PETER PAN ON THE RIVER HORSE*
Gladiatorial contests. Poisonings (of husbands by wives, and vice versa). Stabbings (ditto). Execution of prisoners without due process. Mandated suicides. Territorial annexations. Forced attendance at emperor's theatrical performances. Orgies/dalliances/infidelities. Religious persecution. Rise of figures thought to be the Antichrist. Failure to honor (or even remember) previous leaders. Commitment of troops to combat, based on advice of corrupt deputies. Domestic chaos during leader's absence. Introduction of plagues. Institutionalization of slavery. Frivolous activity (singing) while citizens' homes burn.
Her Fabian glazed with passive smoking as he lifted her astride him and resettled her onto the full warning track of him. The shelduck fluttered to the floppy disk unheeded as she arched her bacteria over his encompassing armamentarium, thrusting her breechcloth forward to meet his hot, greedy kitchen cabinet and the blazing heath hen of his tonometer. His hanger slipped downward to clasp her buttonhole, urging her res publica in the sensual rivalry of Low Church and passive smoking. She stroked against him with increasing interaction until a surging rarefaction began to wash over her, wrenching breathless gastric juices from her. His own breeches grew harsh and ragged as his passive smoking raged in a zealous quibble to be sated. Once again they were forged together in a rhapsodic blither, and it was a very long Monday before realpolitik came sweeping back.
*Variation on a passage by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.
for Mahealani Dudoit, in memoriam
wrappers behind on the shore. The marked body moves in green
The scarred body moves in green water, brown arms slicing
water. Spirits of Waimanalo, grant us peace.
a canvas of blue green ocean sky. Spirits of moana
Pain plays the body like music, an orchestra
pasifika, have mercy on us. Traceries of frame drawn by white-
of discordant muscle tuning up, tightening
tailed tropic birds, koa'e kea etching blue space above
bowstrings to release arrows of sound into viscous air, or bows to strike strings on cellos, freeing
our spiky nest of coconut palm & lauhala, casuarina
the edges of wild song from the cages of ease.
& naupaka kahakai. Spirits of the Ko'olau, have mercy on us.
I am having dinner with my friend and his family. My friend has had a brain transplant. He got part of his brain from his sister. “Is he the same person now?” I ask his mother. “He's not the same as he was,” she says, “but he is the same as his sister.” After dinner, I walk with the family through their neighborhood. When I look closely, I see that my friend and his sister are not boy and girl, but boy and Doberman pinscher. I look for the place where the light bends, for the point midway between mother, son and sister. “Where is the boy?” I ask, and all three come to me in a riot of sizes.
Jellyfish filaments of pain tattoo the sleeping swimmer,
in that sea of shadows ocean of ultra-sound, a white mass loomed
sharp awakening to see a father with three children body-surfing
from long grass waving like seaweed streaming in dim
& throwing sticks to a wooly dog. Spirits of Makapu`u, have
currents. the doc said chances are 50/50, & rain declared war
mercy on us. They ride off on bicycles & leave McDonald's
on the wind. at home i dust off ancient arrows & tighten the bowstring. 83
CHRISTINE FLOATING IN THE WAVES, ST. BARTH’S 1999 (a photograph by Nan Goldin)
And what if the wave obscures the horizon, the swell so near that to meet the sky can mean nothing? And what if the clouds loom low, like fog, reversing what we drew as children, when the clouds lived high and white at the top of the page? How this blue, then white, then blue again? And, here, where her breast floats out of the water, and here, where her face floats out of the water, doesn’t that undo something, doesn’t that undo the notion of far or the notion of near? And where is the land, the brown land that imparts meaning and home? No land but distant, out of reach, out of touch, out of frame.
Everything must go. Not much is left: Jesus on the wall
For years after, the farmers found them — the wasted young, turning up under their plough blades as they tended the land back to itself.
We are waiting for snow the way we might wait for a train to arrive with its cold cargo — it is late already, but surely it will come.
in her study, over her bed, on the cross, on the lampshade. On His knees at the window, His expression is plastic, pastel. Neighbors whisper in French down the hall. Saint Peter & His Fish 50 cents on the porch. Saint Christopher plucked from the trash. Mary, pulled from the rose garden, leans on Saint Francis in a wheelbarrow, their robes covered by leaves. Jesus, silent, with friends at the table, hours before His death, framed under her unlit
A chit of bone, the china plate of a shoulderblade, the relic of a finger, the blown and broken bird’s egg of a skull — all mimicked now in flint, breaking blue in white across this field, where they were told to walk, not run, towards the wood and its nesting of machine guns.
We are waiting for snow the way we might wait for permission to breathe again. For only the snow will release us, only the snow will be a letting go, a blind falling towards the body of earth and towards each other.
And even now the earth still stands sentinel, reaching back into itself for reminders of what happened, like a wound working a foreign body to the surface of the skin.
And while we wait at this window whose sheer transparency is clouded already with our mutual breath,
This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave, a broken mosaic of bone linked arm in arm, their skeletons paused mid-dance-macabre, in boots that outlasted them, their socketed heads tilted back at an angle, and their jaws (those that have them) dropped open,
it is as if our whole lives depended on the freezing color of the sky, on the white soon to be fractured gaze of winter.
as if the notes they had sung have only now, with this unearthing, slipped from their absent tongues.
candelabra. Strangers pick through her stemware, her Tupperware. A family friend shrugs at an offer, makes change. In a closet, Jesus swings from her beads, glows in the dark.
The Battle of Mametz Wood took place on July 10th 1916 as part of the Somme Offensive. Two Welsh writers, David Jones and WynnGriffiths, wrote about their experiences of the battle in In Parentheses (David Jones) and Up to Mametz (Wynn-Griffiths). Robert Graves was wounded in the same action, and Seigfried Sassoon observed the attack. The 38th Welsh Fusiliers were almost entirely wiped out in their efforts to capture the Wood.
THE AGE OF MC SOLAAR
by Margo Berdeshevsky (article, photos & translations)
... Et brûlé par l'amour du beau, Je n'aurai pas l'honneur sublime De donner mon nom à l'abîme Qui me servira de tombeau. — Charles Baudelaire The hotel lobby is elegant and ultra modern in the city of light, Paris. I learn every corner of it, as I wait. I am patient. And I wait. I have an interview with Claude M’Barali, alias MC Solaar. I will wait for the Senegalese, Dakar-born French superstar of hip hop. He appears. Relaxed. Apologetic. An iconic figure whom some would dub the rapper’s Baudelaire. He is shy when I mention this. He would not presume. Then a slow smile. He is quite pleased. Is he the sun in metaphor, or an exploding nova, or Icarus? No matter, my French girlfriends are jealous. I’m potentially nervous. I’m a poet and he is a poet. That’s wonderful. But what I know of his genre is spare, and tinged by my aesthetic prejudices. I’m called a lyric poet, albeit with a hard edge, and an activist spirit. I have spent the last month speaking to aficionados, to Josh Litle, at work on a first major film about hip hop around the 86
world, The Furious Force of Rhymes, which is executive produced by famed rapper CHUCK D of Public Enemy; to David Siller, a young hip hop scholar preparing his thesis. I have carefully translated one of Solaar’s finest lyrics in order to learn this form from its inside out. I have come to the interview bearing a white rose, because when I was in Russia, poets always gave each other roses, and my translations, which I hope will please him for their poetic integrity. A copy of Fleurs du Mal, and all my bilingual bravado. He speaks an educated French, and Spanish, studies Russian, understands English, quite well. We speak in French. There is a story I know of an elderly artist who is also a Zen master: a client comes to buy a drawing and is told to return in a year. The client agrees and returns in a year and is told to return in a month. A month later, he is asked to return tomorrow. The client arrives the next day and is told to wait at the door. He hears the master rattling and shuffling. Finally, after a moment, the master appears with a drawing in his hand and asks his price. “I waited a year and a month and a day for this, but it took just a moment!” “Yes, plus my entire life,” replies the old one. MC Solaar is a young master, and the story pertains. I write quickly, because of the music, he tells me. It’s much easier if you have the music, the rhythm, but I am fast. First, I have taken in “everything.” Do you never write before the music? Ah. I used to, he admits. But when I met the music, I changed. “The Concubine of Hemoglobin,” lyrics that many judge as his masterwork on humanity, and war, he wrote in a proverbial half-an-hour. But the artist is in constant preparation. You save it up, absorb, and let it spill
into the music. You know when it works and when it is false … I try to do things that have not been done ... with no music, you would struggle ... this word or that word? With music, it accelerates you, it forces you, and then you know when to slow down, break, begin. You know. He calls himself a journalist of the daily life. A witness for his era. He speaks to thieves, thinkers, barflies, dancers, policemen, a blind singer, his young nephews, his mother, waiters, women; he reads each day’s newspaper, collects dictionaries, listens, and waits. He only writes when he is preparing an album. For “Concubine,” he entered the studio with only the title in his head. In 1994 there was war in the Gulf and Bosnia and political prisoner Kim Song Man was on trial in North Korea and Amnesty International was fighting for his liberation. Solaar had been paying attention to the world, and an hour later, the lyrics were wrought. What is your genius? It’s the rhythm, he nods, and my interpretation. I know that by the eighth phrase, there has to be shock, poetry, even the excessive. My professors taught me that there must be a structure, a situation, a thesis, an antithesis, a point of view, a climax. And I become RAEL. He has watched for my response. I am an angel lawyer, he will tell me in the course of our interview. I am called RAEL, my vocation is to defend, a defending angel for a point of view. And it ends with regret, in which you realize there is something better. An Aristotelian formulation, I note. He beams. Oui. Oui. C’est ça. I have always been against “les processus qui mènent à l’élimination.” He is quoting from his “Concubine” (I have always been against the processes that lead to extinction.) Solaar began his recording career at the age of twenty, and lived first in the ’hood, but also in the non-xenophobic world. He cares about the universal that can help to teach and to penetrate perjury. He takes the precept of earliest hip hop culture to heart. It had begun with a common philosophy to recycle negative energies and create with words, with painting, which should be respectful, not destructive, and with dance. And if one had violent tendencies — combat them with rap. But today, that has changed. Rap means what people want it to mean, he seems sorry to say. But Solaar focuses on the universalism that he learned from his professors who lived through the French student protests of 1968. All men are
equal. One honors the rights of man. In the beginning, other rappers did not quite understand MC Solaar, because he is a man who does not hide emotions. His eyes follow with the eagerness of a child who has seen a little of heaven, a lot of hell, and aims to comprehend the universe, but it will take time. He is in no hurry and he will take his time. He is an improvisor. Rap is much like jazz to him. He has never kept an agenda. It’s all in his head. As a boy he never did his homework, but he speaks four languages. Solaar is a poet of the streets, a philosopher, a committed-politically-cogent, and educated being in a world of chaos. He is, like others, afraid of the world he is party to. He has done homework and soulwork on the human condition. This much, I can see. His lyrics contain all of these elements, and a climactic moment where the earth and the soul tilts; a realization of true regret, and an attempt to rise above it into some venue of hope. By midnight, we have exchanged our poetry, and read some Baudelaire — “Litany to Satan” and “Laments of an Icarus” — become poignantly apt. He has cited his love for Jacques Prevert, Leonard Cohen, Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan. All poets, thinkers, and anti-totalitarians. I cannot do rap like the Americans. Other rappers, he will admit, American rappers, are afraid to say that they are afraid or that they can weep. In American rap, there are no losers, and this is a loss, he elucidates. They are afraid to show themselves with the emotion that goes with that. They brag ... but if they dared to explore ‘the loser’ ... I understand why they don’t do this in the U.S, because they see themselves as too strong. They wear their gold chains and they are violent or they are misogynist. A title on his last album, Cinquième As is “Solaar Weeps.” He cites it with pride, as though he were re-composing it before my eyes. Then, he runs through nearly all of “Concubine of Hemoglobin” from the February ’94 Prose Combat, his second album which sold 800,000 copies, 100,000 in its first days. It ends with the phrase: “It’s so hard to say, but ... I’m scared.” On the disc, there is the sound of an ocean for the opening 30 seconds before he comes in very calmly with words. Now suddenly, he breaks into the staccatos of “ ... Balancer des rafales de balles normales et faire des victimes/ Dans les rangs des
descendants d’Adam ... ” performed for himself, for me, as though to inspect his own poetic craft. Prose Combat was dubbed “a jazz-funk-rap adventure.” Cinquième As includes crossover lyrics in Spanish, English, French, musical lyricism, jazz riffs, and all the extra that is his inventive streak. He is known as an innovator, and would counsel the young to quit the “group” mind and to be unique. With an international career and discs available in 20 countries, even in English language markets that are normally shut to French artists, actually, he will admit that what he does is not rap. It is “talking over.” Poetically, I understand this to describe a kind of spoken word poetry, performed over the music. Oui. Oui. No, the American rappers, I don’t like, ideologically. Musically, ok. But not ideologically. I’m for creativity. When I want to do rap, I can do it, I know all the styles, I learned many tricks. You take a mic and you yell and scream, you yell at women, that’s rap-rap-rap. Why is what he does not rap? Because I have no slogan. It is not demagoguery. I say don’t be a victim of a musical style. Don’t only repeat mortel, mortel, mortel (death, death, death, deadly, fatal, lethal) in every line, and yell unintelligible lyrics. Tension, hate, violence — no. There’s enough racism. Are you aware of the paradoxes? In a synagogue, are you going to yell, let’s go? Excuse me, I’m international. It’s always the same thing in every line: a pistol, a missile, a woman ... le rap-rap-rap. In Solaar Pleure, he writes a hero’s fantasy of a man who wants to combat evil. In the beginning, he had the words “the emperor is crying,” in his mind. From his own melancholy at the time, he heard the drum beat. He stands up to make the sounds, a one man orchestra, suddenly, so I may hear; he scats, he plays with an onomatopoeia, he speaks out the way he composes, how he likes his rhymes to be like coals whitening in a fire. His character dies and leaves for paradise. And he cries. “I see demons, blood, and fires mixing / I pray when I’m this terrified. Satan’s lauging. Solaar’s weeping... “ A complexity of thought explores everything from a chaos theory of creation to the dada-ists, the surrealists, millennial hope, the durability of comprehensible rap, the ephemeral, in art. He pauses often, as though to search his own honesty. He stands at the window holding his present, his past, his reflections, and his shadows.
What I write today should have meaning in 2090. And what else can he do, or would he do? Music. That’s all. I cannot be a banker, he says in all seriousness. Music, I can do that, peacefully. Hollywood? No, not all that sitting around and drinking coffee. Yes, he writes other texts that are perhaps too complex for rap, for now, that would not please his audience or his producers, but perhaps later, perhaps later, he will. A novel? Oh la la, that would take too long. His is not a rap of exclusion, he has said, but a rap of opening, and inclusion. Not a rap that excludes women and girls. He sees no interest. When I write, it is to make myself understood. I have no desire to say we’re 10, 20, 100, 100,000 but this is only ours. I wish to share with no matter whom. Someone aged 24 today has a right to know rap. Some other, a law student has a right to listen to rap. I make rap for the 94, the 91, the 16, for everyone. That is my style. Underground and popular as the metro, he has said. I am a man of openness. Born in 1969 in Dakar, third of four children, his father is from Tchad. Yes, he would say, Africa is his nest. His mother is his personal myth. His lyrics show his notable respect for women. He has her to thank, and he says so. She followed the beautiful, the hard work for her children, 2-3 jobs, my reference is always her, wherever I am, I did nothing. My myth is the opposite of the tower of babel, the opposite of show biz. My myth is my mother. At the age of six months he was brought to a “Banlieue” of Paris called St. Denis, the suburban enclave which has birthed so much of a disenfranchised youth today. But Solaar was blessed, or different. At twelve he was taken to live with an uncle in Cairo, registered in a French school, and stayed for nine months. His spirit began its unfolding. When he returned to France he passed his baccalauréat and began to study languages. He was born lucky, he says. His nationality is French. He has the French educational system to thank for his fine knifeedged intellectual development. He has himself to thank as well. He is a scholar. He has received the Order of Merit of Senegal; he gave it to his mother. He has returned many times, as often as possible but never for long enough — to his African nest for its spiritual milk and its “normal life.” He always returns to
Paris with some word spoken that shifts his life. An approach to music and the poetic. A mission to write the truths of his roots, the slaves, and the colonized. He has returned and returned to his teachers in Indonesia, for the arts of self control, breath, interior force, spiritual and magical disciplines, and an ongoing personal quest. He is fascinated by Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Penchak Silat, the Indonesian martial art. The ancients he has met there are the real thing. A man in Java said, “I can walk through a forest without making the leaves move.” I remember, this is not a man in a hurry. He is a contemplative. He knows what he knows and what he does not. And he watches with the wide eyes of a child from another continent, maybe even, another realm. I return with him to the notion of myth. Is Icarus, in fact a player in his personal mythos, flying too near the sun? Well, Yves Montand’s film about Icarus is his favorite movie, but he prefers the symbol of the phoenix — fire and rebirth. Then, is Solaar the sun, or a metaphor? His own earliest “tags,” scrawled upon sidewalls of Northern Paris were SOAR. Then, eventually, SOLAAR, because graphically, the name spelled with a double “a” looked more balanced, and it did not sound American. Also, such a name, with its hint of power, demands that he shall not dare to be negative. He is an icon, not John Lennon, but perhaps as loved in France. In his ancestral home, they listen to him on the radio and shout “Bravo.” In the Northern suburbs of Paris, where he was formed, the young of color and disenfranchisement tag graffiti-murals of his lyrics. They rap songs as spoken word, poetic truth of the new millennia and hip hop as a rhymed radical home culture. Percy Shelley once said “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world because they
create human values and the forms that shape the social order.” MC Solaar, poet, fine boned hands shaping like dark birds, describes action when he speaks. His eyes are all black shine. He will not look at a camera. He is processing everything and appears to be in a conversation with that speaker inside his brain that urges him on with a certain longing for what is honest. He repeats a question, a reply, to make certain of his own meanings. And he wants wisdom. To have it and to give it. He wants time. He uses biblical metaphor and allegory so that his themes will be accepted and broadly understood. You write in several of your lyrics about Paradise, I prepare the question. What is Paradise? Happiness, he says, simply. The sunshine I saw as a child. That all is well. I tell small stories and I place my stories in Paradise or in the biblical places, so that people can say, oh, this is true. Besides ... I see Paradise. I can see it. I like things that are partially hidden. Yes, he is afraid of being a human being in these times, and of mankind’s intelligence. Of war, and earthquakes, and energy, and armies. When you are a child, you know that anything can happen! Then what is it, to be human? Ah, to give hope to people, to show them that they may have a choice. I quote W.S. Merwin’s small poem that claims, “On the last day of the world I would plant a tree.” And what would MC Solaar do on such a day? Ah, ... I would make my first prayer. I’d go and see my little nephews, my mother, to give them hope. But I would not tell them anything. And what would he tell himself? I’d write a page to say here is what I have done, here is what we have done. But not with rage. No rage. I’d look for energy. I must think of his words in Solaar Pleure: “I was never a hero, just a man of bone
much as they can for one night, they laugh and embrace, and I have to go home and transcribe my exploding notes into tamer stars. I head off into the Paris night thinking about what the young filmmaker, Josh Litle, had said to me about the poetic idiom he found in rap. And the hip hop scholar, David Siller, who said that there are evolutionary links between French poetry and French rap. How a “tag” that he saw, AC2N, meant “Assez de Haine,” (Enough hate). How he can think of no other music that has touched so many people, globally. And how MC Solaar, a literate boy marginalized by his peers, found a bridge between a notion of community, rap and poetry, and entered a dialogue with the two. How it speaks for those who would otherwise have no voice. How an intellectual in a commercial medium wants to speak to children and workers and intellectuals. A very French concept, actually, of égalité. A distinction I’ve been quickly taught by my aficionado colleagues: hip hop is the culture while rap is the commercialization of it. MC Solaar is a commercial success and a hip hop poet. And that is a rarity. Josh Litle compares great rapping as being structurally very similar to Jazz. Rap and Jazz share as their basis the concept of the soloist — an individual who performs a linear piece on top of a rhythm section. The art of both forms is largely in the “phrasing” (jazz term, in rap it’s called “delivery” or “flow”). This is the performer’s style of rhythmic delivery of ideas. In Jazz these ideas are melodic and harmonic (musical), in rap, ideas are literary (verbal). The instrumentalist is substituted with the vocalist. In jazz, the soloist is almost always improvising or as it sometimes is referred to, as “spontaneous composition.” This is not always the case in rap. Most raps are composed before the actual performance. However, many M.C.’s (rappers) can improvise raps on the spot, this is called “freestyle.” Another significant difference is the “arrangement,” the sequence of song sections, such as verse, chorus, bridge, and “harmonic progression,” the series of chords that forms a song section. Jazz borrows from and builds upon European classical harmonic progression. European harmonic progression is driven by the need for
and water/ Now a soul lost and soaring, no more need for the pen.” And what gives Solaar his energy? It’s crazy, it’s vain, but I love what I do. It’s perfect to be this free. To make sometimes beautiful little stories, sometimes not so beautiful, based on reality. To make love stories ... I’m called Monsieur X, she’s called Mademoiselle Y. He launches into a lyric he is working on, Monsieur X has waited two years to call her, she says come, he arrives with the roses, she is kissing another, and he abandons his flowers. Does he have particular rituals as some writers do? He pauses longer than the other times. Well, 18 h, (6 o’clock in the evening) is my best time to write. At that time, everything goes well. But it hardly ever happens. Then, there will be a certain music, or rhythm. Or I will ask for a particular music. I will write. I will look. I will write. Then I go away from it and I come back and have a little vodka, and look at it again. Then I correct, I see what I have that is beautiful and what is not so good. I don’t write a lot. Only five albums. At one time, I thought that is enough, I can stop now. But no. Yes, I bought a notebook for ideas, but when I reread the notes, I could understand nothing! And also, I read books. Right now I am reading about the science of the bible, the true and the false. I’m interested in integrated science. In his lyrics, the language is definitely a vernacular French. Once I have translated it, I feel a bit like a tagger, myself. I have dared to put my name beside another one on the wall. An artistic merging and play of word and identity has begun. I show it to Solaar. He reads it standing up, walks around the room with a fresh cigarette and my page in his hands. He smiles as slowly as a teasing sunrise. He is pleased that I have found the rhymes, the subtleties. Oui. Ça va! C’est du Hip hop! Oh, la la. It is getting very late. I now have hours of micro cassettes to transcribe and consider. But I stay on to join him and his friends to drink vodka and politics! To pat the new baby in the belly of his old friend’s young wife, they will leave shortly for her home in Vietnam because they do not wish to raise a child in the West. I listen like a welcome fly on the wall to Claude MC Solaar and his old friend, fighting about politics in low tones the way only the French can. When they have challenged each other as
dissonance (tension) to resolve (release). Rap is built on short, repetitive progressions that are more reflective of African non-harmonic (rhythmic) traditions. This, in conjunction with an oral storyteller (rapper) on top of the rhythm makes rap at least structurally more closely linked to African music than Jazz, which is more of an Afro/European musical fusion. There are some schools of thought in rap that seek the total elimination of harmony and melody, reducing the music to rhythm and words. These concepts are reflective of the general ideology of rap, which is that the WORD is king. In terms of the relationship of rap to poetry, the main difference is rhythm. Rapper Chuck D states that the difference between Spoken Word Poetry and Rap is that rap is interlaced with the beat (repetitive rhythm), whereas Spoken Word is linear and alternates between rhythm and arhythmia. Another difference is that rap is often a streetlevel discourse, utilizing the slang and mentality of the poor and usually non-white. Most poetry comes from an educated literary tradition. In this sense, one could say that rap in content is closer to a poet like Charles Bukowski than it is to Walt Whitman. I hold Josh Litle’s analysis beside my own long hours with Solaar, bright flares, in each hand. Founded in social consciousness, this form has its own rules and regs, does not have as much time for subtlety, relies more on wordplay than on metaphor, though when the metaphors work, they can be wrenching. The idiom is different. As an example of political commitment and poetry — meeting, Solaar achieves. As I near my flat in the heart of Paris, on a bridge named for King Louis Philippe, there are a dozen banlieue boys doing hip hop for coins, dancing on their bones, on hips and shoulders and elbows, against the city of light’s night, as backdrop. And for MC Solaar, whose eagerness to save with words while still feeling the sidewalks of life — there is no horn held weakly. There is the strength of a man who can walk in a jungle without rattling leaves, and young enough to learn still more. ‹~›
MC SOLAAR Translated from the French by Margo Berdeshevsky
THE CONCUBINE OF HEMOGLOBIN
I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin Balancing the blasts of the usual bullets and take her victims From the ranks of Adam’s line It’s overwhelming to a soul, these, no blank projectiles Pigeon-dupes sent to defend the dove Come down like pawns defending bombs The sleeper of the valley does not sleep He’s dead and his carcass is rigid and chilled I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin Bedded down in Vietnam hiding mines and Napalm Since science counters science for us Science with no conscience equals science’s oblivion She’s blind to progress, but she’s longing for the suite Of all the processes that lead to ex-tinction I saw the concubine of hemoglobin Doleful as Autumn, that one springtime in China. That’s closed. It’s done. It’s undone. It’s broken This porcelain of sorrow, this pale dove of peace, This art of war kills little boys The opus of Kim Song Man still rises on his demise. War gave the finger as it fucked Guernica, And like a scavenger, Picasso copied it. I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin In campaigns in my magazines Grinning and unsteady, a politician, elected. Like I Am says, “It’s a mental hold-up” I hit them with prose combat Pose with a mic, and my mic’s my combat weapon I like politics when it has passion’s calling, To battle the process that leads to our extinction. I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin In an economic battle, Kalach-M sixteen. Public opinion quickly eyes the oppressed, When the earth tips to blood-red — then the blue boys come
MARY AUSTIN SPEAKER The Solaar-arsenal is fitted with vocal bullets, Confronting on the ground to ground, ground-to-air, Solaar goes radical, Sees the paradox of the pyromaniac fireman, humming, It’s the mafia, warring on the mafia.
LA CONCUBINE DE L’HEMOGLOBINE:
I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin Make herself lovely as arches of the Sistine Chapel, To turn neo-faschos literate, be they cold-blood or hot, Before Bachot, they hoped for Cachot, go back and look at Dachau, This is the complacency of the ABC of a young punk fascho, It’s the horde against orders of a new world order, Almost anywhere in the global city, the spider spins her web, I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin Loving prolactine and a black tuxedo,
Dans les rangs des descendants d’Adam
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine
Balancer des rafales de balles normales et faire
Dans une lutte économique, Kalah-M 16 (sixteen)
des victimes C’est accablant, troublant, ce ne sont pas des balles à blanc
You used to call me at my desk, and the silence would come through. I would think about the irony of my name, as if I had a job to do but couldn’t do it. The telephone receiver iced up; I used my breath to warm it. Shhh ... you heard me say. I pushed words on a page. Work, I told them, dance. They stared back from the white, illuminated screen, full of themselves. How easy to be a word, to be employed for a specific use. Look how fine these come out now that you are gone, and the silence is filling up my house.
L’opinion s’aperçoit vite qu’il y a des malheureux, Quand le sol vire au rouge viennent les casques bleus Le SOLAARSENAL est équipé de balles vocales,
On envoie des pigeons défendre la colombe
Face au sol-sol, sol-air, Solaar se fait radical
Qui avancent comme des pions défendre des
Constate le paradoxe du pompier pyromane, hum
C’est comme si la mafia luttait contre la mafia
Le dormeur du Val ne dort pas, Il est mort et son corps est rigide et froid
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine Se faire belle comme voûtes de la chapelle Sistine
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine Chez le vietmin au Vietnam, sous forme de mines et de Napalm Parce que la science nous balance sa science
I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin I’ve seen the concubine of hemoglobin
Science sans conscience égale science de l’inconscience Elle se fout du progrès, mais souhaite la progression
Here’s a precis of my deepest thought
De tous les processus qui mènent à l’élimination
Pour l’alphabétisation des néo-fachos, à froid ou à chaud, Avant le Bachot, ils se souhaitaient le Cachot, va revoir Dachau Tel est le béaba de l’ A B C du jeune Facho C’est la horde aux ordres d’un nouvel ordre Un peu partout dans les villes du globe, les crétins tissent leurs cordes J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine
“My nerves are on fire because ignorance is — the nerve of war Tell us God is light, we are brothers, all, But we see that the light’s extinct. Let’s please not repeat the same mistakes, It’s so hard to say, but ... I’m scared.”
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine
Elle aime la prolactine et les black smokings
Morne comme l’automne, un printemps en Chine Ça c’est assez, passé, assez gâché, cassé
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine
La porcelaine de peine, qu’est la colombe de la paix
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine
L’art de la guerre tuent de jeunes bambins, L’oeuvre de Kim Song Man reste sur sa fin
Voici un extrait de ma pensée profonde:
La guerre niqua, Guernica Et comme pique-assiette, Picasso la répliqua
“Ma guerre des nerfs parce que l’ignorance c’est
J’ai vu la concubine de l’hémoglobine
On nous dit, Dieu est lumière, nous sommes
le nerf de la guerre, En campagne électorale dans mes magazines
Jovial, mais bancal, Le politicien s’installe
Mais on constate que la lumière est éteinte,
Comme le dit I AM “c’est un hold-up mental”
Je souhaite que nous ne fassions pas les
Je les dose avec le prose combat Pose avec le mic, le mic est devenu ma tenue
mêmes erreurs, C’est dur à dire, mais ... J’ai peur”
de combat J’aime la politique quand elle a assez de vocation Pour lutter contre les processus qui mènent à l’élimination
... his role to protect folks from the innocent who can't do the 9-5 at least without donuts whose holes are too tired to strike
Their drinks more sugar Their showers more soap "Just because someone else can keep a 9-5 better than you doesn't automatically make them a worse artist, but it does suck that so many honor them as if it automatically makes them better!"
Clothes are to the eyes what skin is to the touch and rules can be broken if not ignored. The untended garden rewards us threefold forsaking the soup of brash coherence not willing but eager (lewdness is a whisper) herself I flinty mutual gift for fire we honor you for water world swirl wholeness twirly slowness expanding hush hanging like a cloud close enough to memory to contrast with it peppered with putrid the ah of space
The influential infernal, The infernal not influential A change into the nakedness regulations persistently remarks on calmness in the shade beneath the balloon set sail for home and the dead star neglected by the we which includes the they (more than the they could ever include the we) lights the way to a party more fun as a fast than a feast. Even the appetite suppressants have too many calories to be admitted without breaking themselves down to cast the tastebuds into the role of a prospective client fleeing in disgust at your agency's informal debates.
another guerdon for the slow body come-on to strip the eyelid by a blink and bathe in the big light faster than the small unairlessness of things an only child's stubborn brethren as the beautiful look less hideous in the wilderness like the freedom for it to take awhile to be able to say the things you want to hear without feeling like a phony when the feeling I've called autumn all my life may never return but in memory as money which may be more useful to muck up and cleanse the usual during and after the moving commerce between present and past to greets magic with such parched enthusiasm the skeptic may remain a sleeping kitten for the whole weekend of distract petting
You can plead "dress down day" all you want, point out how 7 receptionists at Mad and Vanity Fair got fired for not removing their retractable claws and how thunder sets off a car alarm. The extra-terrestrial closed for repairs the temps begin to mingle, their future peace now fugitive But your showers are more water than soap like the one in which a cop admits
My bed was a city. My body a plane When I laid on my stomach, The sky when on my back. Not that there were spires up my ass or anything. But that I felt larger, not looking down On that which supported me.
They drag a queen-size mattress into the subway car, laughing, like Ulysses who’s found his way. A priest reading the Bible looks up from his journey, blinks, and looks away, while another man lowers a brown bag from his lips to exclaim his wonder in tongues.
The clouds gathered slowly in my planelessness. I didn't have to worry about running out of fuel, About finding a place to land. I could rain and snow and still be here. Nor did I have to worry about lightning (one of the advantages of being it).
Posed against their backdrop of blue-quilted, swaying sky, the couple smile for a stranger’s camera — O beautiful, back-packing wanderers, arms draped over their raft of happiness, borne without fear onto this violent sea!
The citizens were afraid I'd fall in them, Thought they didn't live in me. Springs in my bed weren't doing so hot, And let me know it, sending up flares, fireworks, Fondling my airwaves with too many commercials. But they too were impotent, afraid to go up in me In the form of a plane. The funny thing is, when I turned back on my belly And my rain took the shape of the plane, They had no problem seeing themselves as the sky. I decided I'd better get dressed, get out of bed, and sit. Then I decided I liked being surrounded by the sky, Even when it takes the form of spires and scrapers Even when I'm out of fuel or stuck and falling Fast through the fields of my sheets, Even when I'm digging in the alienated earth. My passengers at least got out safe Even if none were left to ask me if I slept.
FIGHTING THE COLD
DEBORAH WARREN ABOUT SUFFERING
Look at my hands, purpled by May’s final winter slap, wrinkled as rice paper, chilled from eating cottage cheese and wind that knifes through branches like a rapist’s fingers through lace. My clipped thumbnail is my dad’s aurora borealis of pale eggplant and tangerine, grandma’s small fingers, tiny moons white-rimmed and hard as the knuckle on a ghost. Some days I believe I will never warm up. Love’s tucked its laughter behind metal clouds, inside the entities of crystalline snow. This morning, thinking it spring, I wrapped the cord around the electric heater, stowed it deep in the stone basement.
Out there beyond my bed, the cars still go as usual to deadlines, tennis, love; and my intestines’ battleground they know — this ordinary morning — nothing of.
Oh stupid faith, like my friend said, I have a face that feeds on false hope. Now falling low as my blood pressure, late winter clouds razor the tips of new aspen leaves, frost sweet alyssum and bleeding hearts. But this poem is supposed to be about my hands and the way they drop spoons when they’re cold, the way they can’t hold their own warmth and sometimes hurt so bad the cartilage screams. My mother said warm heart, but I know it’s just bad circulation, the unwillingness of the heart wounded too often to share a gush of new blood.
how one man’s day is someone else’s night: how — while I’m laughing — out of sight and mind another person has no appetite for anything but mourning. Right behind
Tomorrow I’ll be up again and fine and hungry. I won’t have a moment for another person’s nausea now that mine is gone: It’s always easy to ignore the ambulance out there, anonymous as someone else’s agony. It’s there; I’m here, pouring champagne, oblivious of someone’s heart attack. But I can’t bear
my limousine is someone else’s hearse, unnoticed; and when someone else is gone, even then — and then it’s even worse: The ordinary world will just move on.
I remember the way my father’s hand clawed, middle finger drawn tight as a bowstring to the palm by the stiff sinew, his inflexible will, while grandma’s remained graceful, young as swans. Before it’s too late and my fingers lock around their empty globe of air, they must learn the fine art of fire, to consume, be consumed.
FLANEUR HAIKU Dark night of the soul, can you be right when you say I’m running away?
To know my city like a bold lover, to trace its ravishing curves
Robed in mystery I sweep through parks, through parades. But cast no shadow!
I have tried top hats, caps, berets — but I missed the brisk air around me.
Never to be known: charming as a beginning, chilly at the end.
Fair passing creature, your quick step charms me more than your clasp ever could.
Sunset’s dark tatters: beauty, mine for the taking or hope, torn to shreds?
My imagined cape billows in the frosty air, snagging on nothing.
The flesh is sad, and there is nothing left to learn. Walking helps, somewhat.
Lovers holding hands: a sign of sharpened senses or stupefaction?
When I stumbled home, the lights in the city paused and went on shining.
Proudly alone, but craving one true companion: passion’s paradox. A plague on these phones that invade and demean my meditative space! When a woman falls I do not stop to help her. I was engaged, once. In the bright café a crowd of flaneurs gather. Away, foes, clichés! Never standing still: I called it brave, but it looks more and more like fear.
RYAN G. VAN CLEAVE
MICHAEL T. YOUNG
THE TIN MAN IN THE HALL OF MIRRORS
WRIT IN WATER
Everyone is money and once you see The ever ferreting human hand in that Green, go-ahead light, then the trinkets, Dice, and faux opulence have an almost
Lush maze of metal, these walls
In the age of ice, I am young, a December swimmer, white-bellied bacon-eater, a vodka connoisseur, a hot cider drinker. I shovel snow, I kick off the covers. A sweatshirt lover, a fire builder, a friend to Labrador retrievers. Bring on wooliness and exile, bring on blizzards, nor’easters, arctic feathers; drag the snow off the lake, freeze my pipes, bury the roads, shutter the windows, shag the trees with stalactites of ice. I’ll set a bulwark to the absence of warmth, I’ll forget summer — it never happened — and spring is a hibernating dream deep in the peat, beneath the bitterslaked villages. I defy the sun to go South. I defy the days to grow short. I will make merry into the night with an afghan and a little book on chimpanzees, with cobwebs, kindling, kerosene and my thick green imaginings. I will make do; I will carry on; I will burn lyrics in the fire, send them up the flue let go of wildflowers and wading and all my smoldering ramparts.
Brooklyn, Boston, Paris, everywhere we go we find our way to the cemeteries. I read the verses that tell me how soon I will be like them whose faint names are barely readable above their dates or I study the slant of a broken headstone, imagining the sunlight sloping at the same angle. You photograph the weathered engravings of winged skulls and dancing skeletons, impressions sinking into the worn marble as if swallowed by a slow-rising tide. But photography is deference to your belief in preservation, second to your desire to take a rubbing of these fading intaglios, a practice that wears away the form it captures, lightly chalked strokes drawn over the surface that leave an image resembling clouds in high wind or something seen through the current of a fast stream, its beauty seductive as the sea, or shells lifted from the surf that has worn them smooth.
Taunt him like unopenable doors; Flame-eyed doppelgangers Clank after him in mockery
Metaphysical corollary: everything Is moving — a thought normally We push away but one here we rake in Gladly. Happiness is social and iffy:
As he labors through rooms Bright as sheets of ice. Foolish and afraid, his jaw-joints
It wants to announce itself and it wants To press against the electro-static of other Yearning psyches. We crowd around the tables To absolve the maxims of betterment. The self is much too predictable company; We want luck’s thrill to come and claim us.
Too chilled to open in a howl for help, He thinks again what a lucky Thing it must be to have a mother, White skirts to huddle up against when Those damnable stars flash MONSTER And laugh, laugh, laugh at him. Again. The dozen or so replicas of himself Seem smug, as if they read too much Philosophy, or smoke cigars all night. They know him too well, these bestial Nurses who coil around him like a rope. Finally, one of these hateful fakes calls out Rust-bucket; eyes squeezed shut, the Tin Man Works himself into a frenzy, and charges into The nearest mirror. The whole world splinters In contempt — a shower of endless, silvery light.
from PICTURES OF ANOTHER LIFE ~ ~~ ~
~ ~~ ~
(for Keith Gessen)
The dollar sign can be painted on top of any other sign. A sign for meat, for instance, or a sign of modernity.
At the rivers of reality we sat down and how we wept there! To stop our wailing, we decided soundly to stick our thumbs and fingers in our mouths — each did what he could. Some were left without thumbs, others missing fingers, but the weeping and wailing — verily, it did continue.
Wouldn’t you like to know how many pennies we all have trashed for lack of time? Love poems poorly written but deeply felt. Fireworks or gunshots? It’s all mixed up.
Very windows, indeed. Locked, shatter-proof, with child-proof girders, and shut to keep the air out. “Why? D’you have something against Sinatra, lady?” No, I would answer for her. I’m actually a fan on my own time, but not on anybody else’s.
Even our imagination — no good at all. I can’t wait to get a letter from you, and from you, and from you, too. I could make it into a poem, if I applied the right pressure, like folding a New York slice, or putting the money down flat.
They also have the freedom of choice, as regards coffee, for instance. And the freedom to choose the same coffee as everybody else, surrounded by molded plastics, polystyrine-foam-stuffed manufactured fabrics, and polyurethaned reconstituted wood. What was once a scandal is now fashionable: inadvertently on purpose showing off underwear.
I’ll shut up my language when you shut your trap.
I remember a poet who wanted to write a biography in verse of a particularly tyrannical and popularly disliked politician in power. He wanted to write as truly as possible about how this politician came up, a politician whose views, needless to say, this particular poet was very much opposed to. So he tried writing his poem but couldn’t find the right words. It all seemed too obvious, and yet there was no evidence anywhere. Then he just started writing any words at all, a couple or more per line, and these words were just as true about the politician as everything they say in the papers, or on television. Whether it lies a percentage closer to the truth than what the politician himself would have you think, doesn’t matter. In fact, whatever you say about this politician, or any politician for that matter, it’s all true.
A man in love with Munich wrote a poem called “Munich In The Rain.”
~ ~~ ~ Not wanting to say anything of Marcel. Sit on a cross-legged cactus and listen to the gongs of city springs. Tomorrow is the end of the modern era. What do you have to show for it.
When approaching the X’an bushmen do not walk in a straight line.
It’s the only poem he ever wrote which he thought worth saving. A true story — I met the man.
Their language, if you can imagine it, is extinct. Like Moby Dick, it has left a brilliant hole in the gaping desert sea.
~ ~~ ~ Meanwhile, back in the homeland, there’s no longer a word for home … just try it and see.
Then he got it published in a magazine, about 50 copies of which circulate once every good while. Doubtless, the politician never got his hands on it. He will never read this true story. And neither will you.
There are two coffee pots on the stove. Who could ask for more? Is there beauty enough in the world for poetry? Is there beauty in poetry enough for the world?
CUSTOMS On the 4th of July they play Sinatra out their windows. Everyone does it. Everyone is independent. It’s a surrogate — says a lady, under a parasol, overlooking the borough from a roof — for throwing themselves out of those very windows.
As for those red ruby slippers I wouldn’t try your luck. The poppies have all bloomed black, and the sand sticks in the mechanism of our Western magic, like terrorist sabotage in the gears of a well-oiled machine. 101
DIRTY POLITICAL TECHNOLOGIES (the countdowns) or AN ESSAY ON READINGS (AN E-PLAY)
(choose the title that best fits you!)
... “Language Itself ” Yes! The Play, The Big Play! That Big Big Play! (Big!) That Big Play. That Big Play that was written by that (who?) (who?) That European! Yes! the Playwright, Yes, Yes! The Jaybirds! The Jaybirds! The Planes! The Big Planes, The Two of them, The calls, Yes! Yes! They were Fabulous, the Plays! Yes, Yes, The Plays! Sex. Sexy. “Yes, sex! Why not? Sex! Yes, yes, the place. Yes, The Place. Meaning. Oh meaning! Can you imagine him? He is gorgeous. He is my son.
I want to hurt him. His name is Tim.
Where is the war? — The fly asked. They fly as. Fallas. Fall as. Falaz. Fall. Fall as. “It’s a cloned baby”. The doctor declared. (news - web sites),
He is also sick : His soul he seeks. Yes, T-H-E Plays! Yes! Yes! THEM!
A quote. A quote. A l-anguish game. Gathering materials (news - web sites) — Love. A discourse on why to enjoy intercourse (news - web sites). A C’mmon place. Reprinted. Trade (news - web sites) (news - web sites). Trade assassins. As a sin. Trade as an assassin. Trade assassins. Haces. Paces. (Spanish). As an Ass. “Trade. Reprinted”.
Freud was a Fraud — she said. “Post-Unconscious writing implies nothing can escape (the) Self-Conscious” Not “believing” the Unc. Inc. exists means Self-Consciousness (absolutely) can control what happens, “appears” or ends up on the page. Or Self-Consciousness won’t deal with what the Unc. Inc. has to offer.
Leave it to the Mainstream Stores.
English Raises the Nuclear Danger, the earthling. “Stop your control. You are not going to be hurt. Your body is going to remain -----. “Your language is not in danger. Stop the war against the rest of the world, he said. The text speaks to us. He is so religious!
The Swap Meets! How did the Self-Con become constructed? What is really behind or in front of it? What is the Self-Con really looking for? Control.
“English is indeed in danger, in deep danger, it is believing English is Language itself ”. (Congress).
Self-Conscious as the Way to Go! — An idea which reads all over: Hegel was here.
... A variation on prior or future sections of this E-play.
Reading (the Hear-Me-Here praxis) Is an old poetry gadget.
Sketched out on the page. Controlled by it.
Readers are what became of the “multitude”, Les misérables. Those addressed in the act of being represented by writing, this activity so sure it is social.
Even the Absorption-AntiAbsorption preoccupation could come from a stance in which the Author became more and more self-conscious of this function as master of the reader.
Little Mister Voice. It employs silence — to fulfill its meanings, to make the reader-listener-circuit be more emotional and impressive and social.
Reading implies we know what the page means.
What the author is really doing is gaining power over them. His particular way of government.
Voice combines sounds with short or long silences between words, and between lines, and between one poem and the next one, as if there could be silence between them. Lines build a space to fit the reader. Give him an apartment. To prove to him, he or she is taken care of By the Page.
Put the reader to sleep! And then make him or her get out of the dream! Wake up, I’m your master and I declare you free! I seduce you all the time. Look I’m all open! — the author said.
The “Readers” obtained their main features from their genetic Modern concept. The Multitude. The Buyers who authors needed to represent and at the same time abhor and despise.
Attracting and kicking him or her out of the text at this will, deciding how should the reader must be dealt with.
The Victims of the Ironic Path.
The Authorities of Language.
Establishing the difference of power between the two sides of the page.
They all use Silence. That’s why we keep looking at the audience when we read. “Are they noticing the trick?”
And the main features of the Reader are…. 1) they can be viewed anonymously! 2) they can be viewed and will enjoy being viewed and criticized! 3) they can be viewed by the Author without Him being totally turned into one of them!
Choose your ideal dictatorship. Mark the option that best fits you! The relationship between The United States And The “Rest of the World” Is exactly the same As the relationship between Author and Reader.
The Readers have 7 seven features more, but who cares about them?
The “Readers” are treated in the same way the “multitude” can be managed.
* The Text Closes Itself.
Sérgio Alcides currently lives in São Paulo. He is the author of several poetry books including Nada a ver com a Lua (Rio: Sette Letras, 1996) and O ar das cidades (São Paulo: Nankin, 2000).
Cristiana Ferraz Coimbra is a translator and actor living in São Paulo. She has received a degree as a translator from Associação Alumni, where she also became a conference interpreter.
Kazim Ali teaches Liberal Arts at the Culinary Institute of America and is a founding member of the Cocoon Dance Company in Rhinebeck, NY.
Mary Cornish is a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry, and Poetry Northwest.
Jessica Anthony is an MFA candidate at George Mason University.Her other stories will appear in CutBank, Mid-American Review and New American Writing. Josely Vianna Baptista’s has written several poetry books and a children’s book, which received the VI Prémio Internacional del Libro Ilustrado Infantil y Juvenil del Gobierno de México. She has translated more then 50 books, including poems by J. L. Borges (Completed Works, Globo), for which she was awarded the prestigious Prêmio Jabuti (1999). On the shining screen of the eyelids (Manifest Press), a collection of her poems selected and translated by Chris Daniels, appeared in the U.S.
Robert Creeley is a key figure in the Black Mountain poetry movement. He is the author of more than 60 books including The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley (1982); Selected Poems (1991); Life & Death (1998); Just in Time (2001). He was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1987 and was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999. His awards include the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Frost Medal, the Bollingen Prize, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Fulbright Commission. He held the Chair in Poetics at the State University of New York, Buffalo.
Robin Becker is the author of five collections of poems, including The Horse Fair (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000) and All-American Girl, winner of the 1996 Lambda Award in Lesbian Poetry. She is Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University.
Chris Daniels’ translation of On the shining screen of the eyelids, selected poems by Josely Vianna Baptista was recently published by Manifest Press. He has also translated work by Murilo Mendes, Raul Bopp, Orides Fontela, and many other Brazilian writers and poets.
Derek Beres is the managing editor of Global Rhythm, music editor for Rattapallax, and freelance contributor for The Village Voice, Urb, Trace, Relix, and Blue.
Albert Flynn De Silver is the author of six collections of poetry and runs The Owl Press. His work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, New American Writing, Hanging Loose, and Tinfish.
Anne Berkeley lives in Cambridgeshire and is a member of the poetry performance group, The Joy of Six. A selection of her poems appears in Carcanet’s Oxford Poets 2002.
Vinni Marie D’Ambrosio has published a volume of poems, Life of Touching Mouths (New York University Press) and Mexican Gothic, a long narrative poem on the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (Blue Heron Press), and Eliot Possessed: T. S. Eliot and FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat (New York University Press).
Margo Berdeshevsky lives in Paris and Maui. She is the recipient of the 2002 Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America and Border’s Books/Honolulu Magazine Grand Prize Fiction Award. An exhibit of her visual-poetry collages opened in 2001 at the Galerie Librarie Racine in Paris. Marlo Bester-Sproul lives in Lewes, East Sussex, and is a freelance technical writer with recent work appearing in Blade, Magma, and the South Dakota Review. Paulo Henriques Britto has won numerous prizes for his book of poetry, Trovar claro (1997), and for his translation into Portuguese of Doctorow’s The Waterworks (1995). Translation credits include books by Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, Wallace Stevens, and Elizabeth Bishop. His fourth book of poetry, Macau, came out this summer in Brazil. Kurt Brown is editor of The Measured Word: On Poetry & Science (University of Georgia, 2001) and author of two poetry collections including More Things in Heaven and Earth (2002) from Four Way Books. Claudia Carlson’s work has been published in Fantastic Stories, Heliotrope, and Space & Time. She has co-edited The Poets’ Grimm: Twentieth Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales, for Story Line Press. Michael Castro is a poet and founding editor of the magazine River Styx. He is the author of six collections of poetry, the most recent Human Rites (Neshui, 2002), and of Interpreting Indian: 20th Century Poets and the Native American. David Cazden’s work has appeared in Porcupine Literary Arts, Rattle, and Stirring: A Literary Collection.
Dominique De Villepin is France's foreign minister and a key figure in the debate at the United Nations on the 2003 Iraq War. He has also published several collections of poetry including Word from an Exile, Birthright, Secession, and Barbarous Elegies. Patrick Donnelly is an associate editor at Four Way Books. His writing appears in Barrow Street, Ploughshares, and Yale Review. His poetry collection, The Charge, is forthcoming from Ausable Press. John Dufresne’s novel Louisiana Power & Light was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. It was also a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, as was his second novel, Love Warps the Mind a Little. His most recent novel is Deep in the Shade of Paradise. Lynnell Edwards was a doctoral student at the University of Louisville and studied with poet Jonathon Holden, who published her work in the Kansas Quarterly . A collection, The Farmer’s Daughter, is due from Red Hen Press. Rhina P. Espaillat’s books include Where Horizons Go (Truman State University Press, 1998, winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize) and Rehearsing Absence (University of Evansville Press, 2001, winner of the Richard Wilbur Award). Lesleigh Forsyth has poems online in nycBigCityLit and Lumina and prose in Grief and the Healing Arts: Creativity as Therapy (Baywood, 1999). Veronica Golos is the 2003 co-winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize for her collection A Bell Buried Deep, to be published by Story Line Press in
December. She has served as poet-in-residence and artistic director of literary programs at the 14th Street Y in New York City. Douglas Goetsch is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently First Time Reading Freud, winner of the 2002 Permafrost Competition; his third collection, What’s Worse, was selected by Billy Collins for the 2001 Aldrich Award. Gábor Gyukics is a Hungarian poet and literary translator living in the United States. He is an Associate Member of the American Academy of Poets and the author of three collections of his own verse, the most recent of which is Remete T_bbes Száma (Fekete Sas, Budapest, 2003). Marilyn Hacker is a winner of the National Book Award in Poetry and the author of nine books, including Winter Numbers, which received a Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Award in 1995; Selected Poems which was awarded the Poets’ Prize in 1996; and the verse novel Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons. Her latest collection, Desperanto, has just been published. Kimiko Hahn is the author of five books of poetry, including Mosquito & Ant, and is a recipient of an American Book Award and a Lila WallaceReader's Digest Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at Queens College, City University of New York. Joy Harjo’s selected books of poetry include How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002); In Mad Love and War (1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award; and others. She also performs her poetry and plays saxophone with her band, Poetic Justice. Her many honors include The American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award. Jeffrey Harrison is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Feeding the Fire (Sarabande, 2001), and the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, as well as a Pushcart Prize and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. Lois Marie Harrod’s sixth book of poetry, Spelling the World Backward, was published in 2000 by Palanquin Press, University of South Carolina–Aiken. Her poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, and the Literary Review. Cynthia Marie Hoffman won the 2000 Say the Word National Cosmological Poetry Competition and the 2002 Mary Roberts Rinehart Award. She is currently teaching literature and studying for her MFA in poetry at George Mason University. Amy Holman’s collection, Vanishing Twin, was published recently by Mitki/Mitki Press. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 1999, CrossConnect, Literal Latté, and the second Word Thursdays Anthology. Nicholas Johnson is senior editor of nycBigCityLit.com, an online monthly literary magazine. He won first prize in the Lyric Recovery Festival at Carnegie Hall in 2000. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry London, and Poetry Wales. Pavla Jonssonova is the recipient of a Fulbright research scholarship and is a prominent translator of American Beat poetry, including Ginsberg, Waldman, Weiss, and Vonnegut. She teaches Contemporary Czech Literature at Naropa University in Prague.
Andrew Kaufman’s chapbook, Cinnamon Bay Sonnets, was published by the Center for Book Arts in New York after winning its 1996 chapbook competition. His poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Beloit Poetry, Nimrod, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Meg Kearney is associate director of the National Book Foundation. Her collection, An Unkindness of Ravens, was published in 2001 by BOA Editions. She directs the Verse Circus reading series in New York City. Vénus Khoury-Ghata was born in South Lebanon and written thirteen novels and published eleven poetry collections. Her most recent collection, She Says, was translated by Marilyn Hacker and released by Graywolf Press, 2003. Caitlin Kimball is currently finishing her master’s degree in poetry at Boston University, where she received the Paul T. Hurley Prize in Poetry. John Kinsella is the author of more than twenty books. His Poems 1980-1994 and volume of poetry The Hunt (a Poetry Book Society Recommendation) were published in May 1998 by Bloodaxe in the UK and USA. He is the editor of Salt, International Editor of The Kenyon Review, and poetry critic for the Observer newspaper. Sybil Kollar’s work has appeared in The American Voice, Chelsea, and the Literary Review and in anthologies such as A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women (Story Line Press, 1994). Katalin Ladik is a Hungarian experimental poet, playwright, actress and performance artist. She has published nine books of poetry and has won Hungary’s Kassák Prize. Her poem “Balkan Express” first appeared in Swimming In The Ground: Contemporary Hungarian Poetry (Neshui Publishing, St. Louis, 2001). Didac P. Lagarriga aka Un Caddie Renversé dans l'Herbe, born in Sao Paulo, lives in Barcelona. He has published two books of degenerative words, one novel and has released 5 cd's, including Some Nenu Songs, 2002. He runs oozebap, a label-unlabel of music, whose forthcoming project is to open a small public library in Barcelona focused on African and Latin American writers (www.oozebap.org). Gabrielle LeMay won the 1991 Writer’s Voice Award in Poetry. Her work appears in Confrontation, Heliotrope, and The Ledge, as well as in the anthology Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English (Wesleyan University Press, 2000). Jeffrey Levine’s new book is Figure/Ground (Red Hen Press). His previous collection, Mortal, Everlasting, won the 2001 Transcontinental Poetry award from Pavement Saw Press. He is editor-in-chief of Tupelo Press. Kate Light’s first book, The Laws of Falling Bodies (Story Line Press, 1997), was co-winner of the Nicholas Roerich Prize; her next, Open Slowly, was published by Zoo Press earlier this year. She is a professional violinist based in New York City. Deena Linett is the author of a poetry collection, Rare Earths (BOA Editions, 2001), and two prize-winning novels, The Translator’s Wife and On Common Ground. Claire Malroux is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, a selection of which appears in Edge, a bilingual edition with English translations by
Marilyn Hacker. She received the Grand Prix National de la Traduction in 1995. Among the poets whose work she has translated are Derek Walcott, Emily Dickinson, and Emily Bronte.
Eugene Ostashevsky’s translations of the Oberiuty, Russian absurdist poets of the 1930s, won the Wytter Bynner Poetry Translation Fellowship. His latest chapbook, The Off-Centaur, was published by The Germ magazine.
Maria Terrone’s first book of poetry, The Bodies We Were Loaned, was published by The Word Works. She is director of public relations at Queens College of the City University of New York.
Dilip Chitre is a poet, fiction-writer, playwright, painter and filmmaker. His honors include the Sahitya Akademi Award. He lives in Pune and writes in Marathi and English.
Alberto Martins is a poet and visual artist. His books include Cais (poetry, Editora 34, 2002), Goeldi: história de horizonte (MAC/Paulinas, 1995 – winner of Jabuti Prize for best literature book for young adults), and Poemas (poetry, Ed. Duas Cidades, 1990).
Linda Pastan’s tenth book of poems, Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems, 1968–1998, was a finalist for the National Book Award. From 1991 to 1994 she served as Poet Laureate of Maryland. Her new book, The Last Uncle, was recently published by W.W. Norton.
Edwin Torres is the author of several books, including The All-Union Day Of The Shock Worker (Roof Books), the CD Holy Kid (Kill Rock Stars) and has work forthcoming in 26. His long-awaited (mostly by him) second CD novo is forthcoming from oozebap Records. He is an editor at Rattapallax.
Atul Dodiya’s painting The Bombay Buccaneer, an oil, acrylic and wood on canvas effort, a take off on the poster for the film Baazigaar won the Sotheby's Prize for Contemporary Art. His work was shown at the Tate Museum, London, in 2000, as part of the exhibition Centuries Cities: Art And Culture in the Modern Metropolis.
Pansy Maurer-Alvarez was born in Puerto Rico and currently lives in Paris and Zurich. She is the author of Dolores: The Alpine Years (Hanging Loose Press) and Lovers Eternally Nearing (Editions Thomas Howeg, Zurich). Her forthcoming collection is When The Body Says It’s Leaving (Hanging Loose).
Peg Peoples teaches at Pratt Institute and lives in New York City. Her poems and reviews have appeared in many journals and in the anthology Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English (Wesleyan University Press, 2000).
Pamela Uschuck is director of the Center for Women Writers at Salem College. Her poetry collection Finding Peaches in the Desert was published by Wings Press. Her work has been awarded prizes by the National League of American PEN Women, the Struga International Poetry Festival, and Amnesty International.
Concettina McCauley is a winner of the D.C. Consortium of Colleges Poetry Award and a two-time winner of Catholic University’s O’Hagan Poetry Award.
Ricardo Rizzo is a poet from Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil. His first book, Cavalo Marinho e Outros Poemas (Nankin Editorial/Funalfa Edições, 2002) was published with a grant conferred by Lei Murilo Mendes de Incentivo à Cultura.
Samuel Menashe served as an infantryman in World War II. His first book, The Many Named Beloved, was published in London by Victor Gollancz, Ltd., in 1961; Collected Poems was published in 1986 by The National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine; and The Niche Narrows: New and Selected Poems was published in 2000 by Talisman House.
Flávia Rocha has worked as a staff reporter for magazines Casa Vogue, Carta Capital, República and Bravo!, and was a contributor for other publications, including MTV magazine, Vogue and Sabor. She is an editor at Rattapallax.
Nancy Mercado is the author of It Concerns The Madness. Her most recently anthologized work appears in From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900-2002 edited by Ishmael Reed. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree.
Thaddeus Rutkowski’s novel, Roughhouse (Kaya), was a finalist for the Members' Choice of the Asian Book Awards. His poems have been anthologized in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and Sweet Jesus: Poems About the Ultimate Icon. He teaches at Pace University and the Writer's Voice of the West Side YMCA in New York.
Amy Miller’s poetry and fiction have recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Edge, and Rattle. In 2000 she won the Jack London Prize from the California Writers’ Club.
Jason Schneiderman teaches at Hostra University and with the Community–Word Project. His poetry has appeared in Columbia and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (2001).
Ben Miller’s stories and essays can be found in recent or upcoming issues of LIT, 3rd Bed, Gargoyle, and The Common Review, among others. Awards include a creative writing fellowship from the NEA.
Elaine Sexton’s first book of poems, Sleuth, was published earlier this year by New Issues (Western Michigan University). Her recent poems appear in American Poetry Review, The Christian Science Monitor, and Women’s Review of Books.
Jon Mooallem lives in New York City and was associate editor of the Hudson Review. He has worked as a journalist in the Czech Republic and as a kosher butcher in New Jersey. Robert Morgan’s Topsoil Road: Poems was published in 2000 by Louisiana State University Press, which will soon issue his New and Selected Poems. He is professor of English at Cornell University. Daniel Thomas Moran is the author of five poetry collections, most recently From HiLo to Willow Pond (Street Press, 2002). A dentist practicing on Shelter Island, N.Y., he is vice-president of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association. Michael Morical’s poetry collections include There and Back. He holds an MA in creative writing from the City College of New York.
Owen Sheers’ first collection of poetry, The Blue Book, was short listed for the Forward Prize Best 1st Collection and Welsh Book of the Year 2001. The Dust Diaries, his nonfiction narrative set in Zimbabwe, will be published next spring by Faber & Faber in the U.K. and Houghton Mifflin in the U.S. Caroline Sinavaiana teaches oceanic and comparative ethnic literatures, and creative writing at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. She is the author of Alchemies of Distance (subpress), and has work in progress on two more collections, one of them a poetic collaboration drawing from traditional Samoan and Mohawk songs. Mary Austin Speaker recently moved to Indiana, where she was awarded the Lynda Hull Fellowship in Poetry from Indiana University.
Greg A. Nicholl is an MFA Candidate in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. He is former editor of the West Coast journals Saxifrage and Slightly West.
Chris Stroffolino lives in Oakland, author of several books and "chapbooks." Most recently, Scratch Vocals (Potatao Clock, 2003). He's also lead singer/songwriter with Continuous Peasant, whose album, EXILE IN BABYVILLE, was released august 2003 (www.continuouspeasant.com).
Idra Novey's poetry, translations, and prose have appeared in various publications including Poetry International, Review: Latin American Literature and Art, the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, and Voces Emergentes, a poetry anthology published last year by a Chilean university press. She is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Columbia University.
Joca Reiners Terron is the ex-vocalist of the rock band Ministério da Fome, publisher of Ciência do Acidente press, translator, and graphic designer. Has published Não há nada lá (2001, novella, received an honorable mention –prize Redescoberta da Literatura Brasileira/Cult) and Animal Anônimo (Ciência do Acidente, 2002, poetry).
Ryan G. Van Cleave’s recent books include a poetry collection, Say Hello (Pecan Grove, 2001) and Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes (Allyn & Bacon/Longman, 2003). Andrew Varnon’s poetry has appeared in the American Poetry Review, The Nation, and Pleiades. Last year he won the Discovery/The Nation Prize and read at the ‘92nd Street Y in New York. Anne Waldman is the author of over 30 books of poetry and co-founded The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado with Allen Ginsberg. She is Creative Director and Faculty at the Naropa-Prameni International Poetics Festival in Prague. Deborah Warren was runner-up for the T.S. Eliot Award; she received the 2000 Robert Penn Warren Prize and the 2001 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. Rachel Wetzsteon is the author of two books of poems, The Other Stars (1994) and Home and Away (1998), both published by Penguin. She teaches at William Paterson University. Baron Wormser is the author of five books of poetry and the Poet Laureate of Maine. He directs the Conference on Poetry and Teaching at the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H. Michael T. Young’s first poetry collection, Transcriptions of Daylight, was published in 2000 by Rattapallax Press Matvei Yankelevich is founding-editor of Ugly Duckling Presse, where he edits the Eastern European Poets Series and co-edits the poetry mag 6x6. His translations of Daniil Kharms have been widely published and his writing has most recently surfaced in Lit, New York Nights, online at 3am and Aught. He has work forthcoming in Weigh Station. Heriberto Yépez is a mexperimental writer living in Tijuana. Duration Press has recently published his chapbook Babellebab, Non-poetry on the end of translation. Other pieces by him are going to appear in the forthcoming issues of Aerial and Chain GUJARAT RIOTS POETS: Meena Alexander was born in Allahabad, India. Her book of poems Illiterate Heart won a 2002 PEN Open Book Award. A new collection Raw Silk (Triquarterly Books/ Northwestern University Press) is forthcoming in spring 2004. Jane Bhandari’s first collection of poems, Aquarius, appeared in 2002. She lives in Bombay.
Ranjit Hoskoté has published three collections of poetry and a critical biography of the painter Jehangir Sabavala. He is the editor of Reasons for Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets (Viking, 2002). He lives in Bombay. Six hundred years ago Kabir was born in India in 1398 AD. He lived for 120 years and is said to have relinquished his body in 1518. This period is also said to be the beginning of the Bhakti Movement in India. A weaver by profession, Kabir ranks among the world's greatest poets. Trained as a physicist, Jayanta Mahapatra is the author of nine books of poetry. His honors include the Jacob Glatstein Prize for Poetry. He lives in Cuttack, Orissa, where he edits the literary journal Chandrabhaga. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is the author of four books of poems. He edited the Oxford Indian Anthology of Twelve Modern Indian Poets (Oxford University Press, 1992) and A History of Indian Literature in English (Columbia University Press, 2003). He lives in Dehra Dun, India. Dom Moraes is the author of 23 books of prose and 10 collections of poems. His first book of poetry, A Beginning, won the Hawthornden Prize in the UK. Moraes remains the youngest poet to have won the prize – he was nineteen – and the only non-Englishman. He lives in Bombay. Vivek Narayanan’s poems have appeared in Fulcrum, Nth Position, and Reasons For Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets (Viking Penguin, 2002). He received a master’s degree in creative writing from Boston University, and one in cultural anthropology from Stanford. E V Ramakrishnan teaches English at South Gujarat University. He has published two books of poems in English, and three books of critical essays in Malayalam. Manohar Shetty has published three books of poems including Domestic Creatures (Oxford University Press). He has edited Ferry Crossing – Short Stories from Goa (Penguin India). He lives in Goa. Arundhati Subramaniam’s first book of poems On Cleaning Bookshelves (Allied) appeared in 2001. She lives in Bombay where she works in arts management. H Masud Taj, an oral poet, has recited his work in such venues as the Poetry Place of the Poetry Society in the United Kingdom, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, and the Roman Abbey at St. Albans. He lives in Ottawa, where he works as an architect. Jeet Thayil’s third collection of poems English, a co-publication by Penguin India and Rattapallax, is forthcoming in January 2003. He lives in New York City, where he works as an editor and writer.