Editors: Martin Mitchell, Idra Novey, Willie Perdomo, Flรกvia Rocha,
Rodrigo Rojas, Jeet Thayil & Edwin Torres International Poetry Editor: Marilyn Hacker, Fiction Editor: Alan Cheuse, Music Editor: Derek Beres Senior Editors: Lorna Knowles Blake Lorna & Samantha Zighelboim Publisher: Ram Devineni
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, Joshua Auerbach, Larry Jaffe, Margo Berdeshevsky, Lloyd Robson, William Pitt Root & Fred Johnston. Rattapallax Press 532 La Guardia Place, Suite 353, New York, NY 10012 212-560-7459 / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.rattapallax.com and http://www.dialoguepoetry.org Copyright © 2004 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. SUBSCRIPTION: One year: $14.00 (2 issues); two years: $26.00 (4 issues); Canadian orders add $6.00 per year / Foreign orders add $10.00 per year. Submission deadlines are November 1 and June 1 for issues appearing in March and September. We do not accept simultaneous submissions or previously published work. Submit no more than five unpublished poems or two unpublished short stories, and artwork (no limit). Submissions without an S.A.S.E. will not be returned. Please mail to our New York address. Rattapallax is generously supported by a grant from NYSCA. Cover: Front-Back: Henri Cartier-Bresson, India. 1947-1948. Punjab. Kurukshetra. Refugees exercising in the camp to drive away lethargy and despair. Page 1: Breyten Breytenbach, Prison Drawings, 1975-82, pencil on paper. editora 34 is the exclusive partner and distributor of Rattapallax magazine in Brazil. LOM is the exclusive partner and distributor of Rattapallax magazine in Latin America. editora 34 Rua Hungria, 592 01455-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil Phone (55)(11) 3816-6777 email: email@example.com
LOM Concha y Toro 23, 2o Piso Santiago, Chile Phone (56)(2) 688-5273 http://www.lom.cl
6 ...... ADONIS 9 ...... VILMA TAPIA ANAYA 10 ...... ANDRÉS ANWANDTER 11 ...... PAUL BEATTY 12 ...... ANDREA HOLLANDER BUDY 13 ...... JOÃO BANDEIRA 14 ...... SALLY W. BLIUMIS 14 ...... ANDREA CARTER BROWN 15 ...... MOLLY GILES 16 ...... DAVID CAMERON 18 ...... ERNESTO CARDENAL 20 ...... JULIO CARRASCO 22 ...... MICHEAL CARMAN 23 ...... JAI CHAKRABARTI 24 ...... GRETL CLAGGETT 24 ...... MILES A. COON 24 ...... ANNE CORAY 25 ...... DAVID COPE 26 ...... LÍGIA DABUL 27 ...... SANDRA MARESH DOE 30 ......SHARON DOLIN 30 ...... SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY 31 ...... DENNIS DRISCOLL 32 ...... CHAD DAVIDSON 33 ...... NEI DUCLÓS 34 ...... DEREK BERES Reviews of Carl Hancock Rux & Saul Williams 37 ...... ELLEN KIRVIN DUDIS 37 ...... MOIRA EGAN 37 ...... MARTIN FIGURA 37 ...... DOUGLAS GOETSCH 38 ...... ANNIE FINCH 39 ...... ARMANDO FREITAS FILHO 40 ...... GLADYS GONZÁLEZ 42 ...... BRENTLEY FRAZER 43 ...... LYNN FREED 48 ...... KENNETH GOLDSMITH 51 ...... JOE GREEN 52 ...... TAMI HAALAND 53 ...... TOMÁS HARRIS
KEVIN HIGGINS ...... 54 COLETTE INEZ ...... 54 PATRICIA SPEARS JONES ...... 56 MOHAMMED KHAÏR-EDDINE ...... 57 ELIOT KATZ ...... 58 AARON KIELY ...... 61 TSAURAH LITZKY ...... 64 SHEILA MALDONADO ...... 65 BEN MAZER ...... 66 SAMUEL MENASHE ...... 66 JOHN MINCZESKI ...... 67 JON MOOALLEM ...... 67 GONZALO MILLÁN ...... 68 CAROL MIRAKOVE ...... 70 RICK MOODY ...... 73 ROBERT MORGAN ...... 76 ANNA ROSS ...... 76 NIKOLAI OLEINIKOV ...... 77 DAEL ORLANDERSMITH ...... 79 HOLLY POSNER ...... 80 REGINA O’MELVENY ...... 82 MARÍA SOLEDAD QUIROGA ...... 83 JEROME ROTHENBERG ...... 84 MARGARET RYAN ...... 85 SOUTH AFRICAN POETRY AFTER APARTHEID ... 86 Lamont Steptoe interviews Breyten Breytenbach, poems by Robert Berold, Breyten Breytenbach, Vonani Bila, Alan Finlay, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Mbongeni Khumalo, Bernat Kruger, Kgafela oa Magogodi, Mzi Mahola, Lebogang M. Mashile, Isabella Motadinyane, Ike Mboneni Muila, Lesego Rampolokeng, Arja Salafranca, Kelwyn Sole CHRISTOPHER STACKHOUSE ...... 96 VIRGIL SUAREZ ...... 96 TERESE SVOBODA ...... 98 TODD SWIFT ...... 98 ANDREW VARNON ...... 99 BRUNO TOLENTINO ...... 100 MICHELINY VERUNSCHK ...... 102 RAÚL ZURITA ...... 102
24. CID CAMPOS & JOÃO BANDEIRA /
1. LI-YOUNG LEE / Echo and Shadow (2:27)
Veio O Verbo (2:16)
2. SAUL WILLIAMS / Talk to Strangers (2:41) 25. DAEL ORLANDERSMITH / New Language Born (2:34)*
(1) Li-Young Lee's “Echo and Shadow” from Reverse album courtesy of reVerse records ©2004. Music by Richard Fammerée & Linnaeus. More information at www.reverse1.com. All rights reserved.
(25)* Dael Orlandersmith’s “New Language Born” includes audio from “Genrecide (I Wish Tricky'd Die Any Way I Hope)” by Terre Thaemlitz, originally released on Modulation & Transformation 4 (Germany: Mille Plateaux, 1999, MP3CD61). Licensed courtesy of Comatonse Recordings, published by T. Thaemlitz (BMI). More information at www.comatonse.com. All rights reserved.
3. RAÚL ZURITA / Bajo el río las estrellas (1:46)
26. DAVID CAMERON / Song in the Hallway (1:14)*
4. PATRICIA SPEARS JONES / Waiting for the Year of the Horse (0:55)*
27. MICHAEL CARMAN / I Met Two Horses (0:56)*
5. LÍGIA DABUL / Costume (0:28)
28. GONZALO MILLÁN / La Ciudad N. 48 (2:22)
6. LESEGO RAMPOLOKENG / Heavyweight (3:28)
(2) Saul Williams' “Talk to Strangers” from Saul Williams album courtesy of Fader Label ©2004. Produced by Saul Williams and Serj Tankian. More information at www.saulwilliams.com . All rights reserved.
(23) Haroldo de Campos “Calças cor de Abóbora” from Isto não é um Livro de Viagem: 16 Fragmentos de Galáxias album courtesy of Editora34 ©1992. All rights reserved.
29. GONZALO MILLÁN (read by RODRIGO ROJAS) / The City N. 48 (2:02)
7. IKE MBONENI MUILA / Jamming in My Mind (1:30)
30. CHRISTOPHER STACKHOUSE / Fabrication (2:12)
8. ISABELLA MOTADINYANE / One Leg In (0:47)
31. ANDRÉS ANWANDTER / Banda Sonora (1:04)
9. ALLAN KOLSKI HORWITZ / Talk (1:14)
32. AARON KIELY / Poem (2:01)*
10. LESEGO RAMPOLOKENG / Sebokeng Siege (4:33)
33. LÍGIA DABUL / Musth (0:43)
11. IKE MBONENI MUILA / Mochochonono (2:13)
34. GRETL CLAGGETT / The Handicap (0:58)
12. ISABELLA MOTADINYANE / Slow Motion Brain Slide (0:48)
35. TOMÁS HARRIS / Mar Del Sol Naciente (0:44)
13. AARON KIELY / Poem (1:14)*
36. SECOND2LAST / Wisdom (2:28)
14. TOMÁS HARRIS / Argel (1:52)
37. MICHAEL CARMAN / You in Translation (1:10)*
15. GLADYS GONZÁLEZ / La Chica Más Linda (0:12)
(6) (10) “Heavyweight” and “Sebokeng Siege” was performed by Lesego Rampolokeng and the Kalahari Surfers. Tracks were from the album End Beginnings and courtesy of ReR Recommended ©1993. All rights reserved.
(36) Second2Last “Wisdom” from Babble On album courtesy of Second2Last ©2004. More information at www.second2last.com. All rights reserved.
(7) Ike Mboneni Muila's “Jamming in My Mind” is from the book and album Gova (Botsotso Publishing) ©2004.
(41) F.D. Reeve's “The Government Calls Upon the Blue Cat to Make a Sacrifice” from The Return of the of Blue Cat courtesy of F.D. Reeve and Other Books ©2005. Words by F.D. Reeve and music by Exit 59. All rights reserved.
(8) (9) (11) (12) Isabella Motadinyane's “One Leg In” and “Slow Motion Brain Slide”; Allan Kolski Horwitz's “Talk”; and Ike Mboneni Muila's “Mochochonono” are from the album Purple Light Mirror in the Mud. Produced by Botsotso/111 Production, James de Villiers and the Botsotso Jesters ©2001. All rights reserved.
(45) Carl Hancock Rux's “Ground” from Apothecary RX album courtesy of Giant Step Records ©2004. Music by Carl Hancock Rux and Stewart Lerman. Additional information at www.carlhancockrux.com and www.giantstep.net. All rights reserved.
38. RAÚL ZURITA / Inscripción 15 (1:03)
16. DAVID CAMERON / Poems from Phobos (1:16)* 17. DOUGLAS GOETSCH / Waking My Mother (0:54)*
39. JULIO CARRASCO / Primavera en Bangladesh (1:26)
18. MICHELINY VERUNSCHK / Conto (0:43)
40. GLADYS GONZÁLEZ / Barquitos De Papela (0:17)
41. F.D. REEVE / The Government Calls Upon the Blue Cat
19. GLADYS GONZÁLEZ / Esta Primavera (0:33)
to Make a Sacrifice (2:19)
20. JULIO CARRASCO /
42. NIKOLAI OLEINIKOV (read by EUGENE OSTASHEVSKY) / In Service of Science (3:31)*
Los Pensamientos se Acercan Sigilosamente (0:40)
21. PATRICIA SPEARS JONES / Shroud (1:28)*
(13)* (32)* Aaron Kiely’s “Poem” and “Poem” use music courtesy of Claro Pescine ©2000. All rights reserved.
*Indicates tracks produced & arranged by Edwin Torres, engineered by Fred Stesney, recorded at See-It-In-Sound, NYC.
(22) (24) Cid Campos' “O Que Quer Que” (with Augusto de Campos) and “Veio O Verbo” (with João Bandeira) from the album Fala da Palavra courtesy of Cid Campos ©2004. Distributor's website: www.tratore.com.br and email for Cid Campos is firstname.lastname@example.org. All rights reserved.
Brazilian poets recorded at Estúdio Freqüência Rara, São Paulo, Brazil. Engineered by Maurício Grassman. Chilean poets recorded at Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile.
43. ANDRÉS ANWANDTER / Soundtrack (0:54)
22. CID CAMPOS & AUGUSTO DE CAMPOS /
44. AARON KIELY / Poem (0:31)*
O Que Quer Que (3:49)
23. HAROLDO DE CAMPOS / Calças cor de Abóbora (3:46)
45. CARL HANCOCK RUX / Ground (6:23)
Translated by Marilyn Hacker via the French version of Vénus Khoury-Ghata
TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE FOREST OF MEANING
What is a road? Manifesto of departure written on a page called earth
What is chance? Fruit of the wind’s tree which falls into your hands without your wishing for it
What is a tree? Green lake those waves are wind What is a mirror? A second face a third eye What’s the shore? Cushion for tired waves What is a bed? Night within the night
What is memory? A house to shelter absent things
What is history? A blind drummer
What is poetry? Vessel headed for no port
What is truth? A sketch of the features of water the face of light
What is rain? The last traveler to get off the train of clouds
What is imagination? The scent of reality
What is night? Fabric with which the sun veils itself
What is the face? Port for the migration of tears
What is blackness? The belly of a woman pregnant with the sun
What is the wind? Perpetual reader of one book: the wind
What is day? A cage to trap sunlight
What is a meteor? Arrow with one goal to shatter itself and die
What is a secret? A shut door it breaks if you open it
What is dusk? Sweat which seeps from the sun’s skin
What are cries? Rust on a voice
What is a poem? A child which nurses forever
What is dust? The earth’s lungs panting
What is a dream? Reality rising to be worthy of imagination
What are fingers? First shores of the body’s ocean
What is happiness? A tombstone in a cemetery on the border of speech
What are wings? A whisper in the sky’s ear
What is hope? A description of death in life’s language
What is a cage? Emptiness filled up
What is death? A shuttle between a woman’s breast and the earth’s
What is sorrow? Cloud in the body’s sky
What is the rainbow? A cloud’s body
What is luck? Dice in time’s hand
What is poverty? A grave moving above ground
What is a rose? A head to be cut off
What is suspicion? Hand fingering the body of shadow
What is a pillow? The first step on the ladder of the night
What is night? Stationer who sells the books of the stars
What is the earth? The body’s future
What is prayer? Celestial cloud which rises from the puddle of words
What is the dusk? A prayer of farewell
What is a tear? A mirror of great clarity
What are tears? A war the body lost
What is the moon? The sun’s faithful servant
What is despair? Life described in death’s language
What is the absolute? The brain’s irregular menstruation
What is dust? A rival of the wind its most tenacious competitor
What is the desert? A seer who never stops reading the sand
What is nakedness? The beginning of the body
What is a dream? A starving man who won’t stop knocking on reality’s door
VILMA TAPIA ANAYA
Otra vez arrodillada
On her knees again in the mud she sculpted a man from the mud in order to adore him.
sobre barro modeló un hombre de barro
What is a kiss? A visible harvest of the invisible
What is surprise? A bird escaped from the cage of reality
Translated from the Spanish by Rodrigo Rojas
para adorarlo. Perla que llega
What is a homeland? A body stretched out on the cushions of language
What is anguish? Wrinkles on the nerves’ silk
Pearl that arrives bursts: rains
What is a language? Train which is all at once road voyage and arrival
What is a metaphor? Wings beating within the chest of words
What is the river? A bed which the earth stretches out between its breasts or beneath its navel
What is creation? A ring on the finger of chance
I’m submerged In water don’t have a mermaid’s tail perhaps some stubborn scale.
dentro del agua no tengo cola de sirena tal vez
What is an embrace? The third of the two
What is a garden? A poet who writes poems while sleeping then the mute beds
alguna terca escama.
What is sense? The beginning of non sense and the end of it
What is certainty? The decision to do without knowledge What is time? A garment we wear and never cast aside What is a right angle? A group of lines curved and invisible What is a mirage? Sun dressed up in sand aping water What is water? The hell of fire What is the navel? The midpoint between two heavens
ANDRÉS ANWANDTER BANDA
tras el muro
the tele phonic lines frame the sky peopled by limpid images flesh of light that bodies secrete fusing and forming shapes ephemeral clouds saturating the eyes with distant scenes that dreams recycle later an airplane darts across the temples and becomes a coin dissolved in gloomy waters throwing waste along a mental beach
de luz que los cuerpos rezuman
en la tele
que el sueño
que a veces
en las aguas
Translated from the Spanish by the author and Rodrigo Rojas
swept by night in constant waves chalk lines a fleeting sketch of day breaks behind the hills
*** the eye’s back yard is left with piles of junk you see on tele vision the skull’s cellar keeps memories in glass jars occasionally swept threshed by a broom or dripped in between the planks to the ground fractions of wasted
time craved by certain nervous and grey mental creatures you hear them running behind the wall while shutting the curtains and trying to sleep
Quiet as it’s kept Black may be beautiful; But Puerto Ricans have the best afros.
The ghetto gangsta’— Though he hasn’t ate all day, Picks his teeth.
Fragrant urinal disk Like the peony, it too Shrivels up and dies.
CHOBO (18th Century Japanese haiku poet) Created by Paul Beatty
Misty autumn morning Palanquin bearers look sleepy — One yen from a pretty passenger.
~ Muggy June morning In the shower — a long piss. Never felt so free.
~ Inking the writing brush: Thoughts come slowly this morning. The autumn fog.
~ In bed we cool. Kiss. Soon as my feet hit the floor The shit go haywire.
~ This nights' passing shower — Even the Emperor's lacquered stoneware Outshone by a wet road in the moonlight.
~ I’m not smart enough To be intimidated By her intellect.
~ Viewing the full moon — How itchy and stiff My new kimono.
Muchless, her big-ass titties. Crisp autumn weekend — I sight the rarest of birds, The black field goal kicker.
... Lady Kõnikawa’s First Birthday
ANDREA HOLLANDER BUDY
Into the woods around our house I set out, careful not to rouse
veio o verbo primeiro o artigo
and so came the verb first the more substantial article reverberating inside the ear a series with-
série sem uma só seqüência certa de sentidos
out a single straight sequence of senses entering
entrando saindo pela boca olhos poros pelos
leaving the mouth eyes holes hair fingers involving the
dedos envolvendo o mais fundo umbigo de tudo
the man asleep upstairs, his head still turned toward my side of our bed,
~ that raft he drifts upon. Each dawn is different and the same. The sun
Lady Kõnikawa’s Eighth Birthday
deepest navel of everything that can be named repeating
que se nomeie repetindo e logo diferente indo inadvertida ou propositalmente aparente ou real-
and soon differently going inadvertent or purposefully
mente sem objetivo a não ser trazer o tempo a
apparent or really aimlessly unless bringing time to its own
seu mesmo tempo correndo e suspenso feito
time running and suspended as a body without beyond nor
corpo sem além nem a quem da homérica dispu-
be for since the homeric dispute between gods and men
ta entre deuses e homens até aquele dito sobre o
winks through the hickories and pines but from a different place, the lines
How quickly she Sets aside my present. Is there more sake?
of light revealing a surfeit of webs, dew-covered — and perfect
Translated from the Portuguese by Noemi Jaffe
mais substantivo verberando dentro do ouvido
The baby’s face — Cake crumbs and frosting. The empire is a beautiful mess! Banzai!
until that saying about the poem which means done not
poema que quer dizer feito não ser feito de
being done with ideas but words and still even if not this or
idéias mas palavras e ainda que já nem isso ou aquilo ainda agora aqui desde o fim o princípio da
that still here now from the end the principle of poetry is
poesia é o meio
e tanto faz se existe algum deus que escreve o
and it makes no difference if there is a god who writes what
que será por linhas certas ou tortas se os destinos
is to come in straight or crooked lines if the destinies
já são desde então o que são e se não ao
already are what they are and if not on the contrary we are
as the best sonnets, their makers who all night, like little Shakespeares
Lady Kõnikawa’s Sixteenth Birthday
or Rumplestiltskins, awaken the gods of magic to help them spin.
Fighting for her favor The samurai storms the castle On his knees.
Speaking of sonnets, I speak them as I walk, trying aloud some
contrário estivermos todos ao sabor acredoce do
all at the bittersweet flavor of hazard calculating the sixth
acaso calculando o sexto sentido de uma terceira
I memorize whose cadence fits my pace. Yesterday was Yeats’s
Young Edo samurai Bear gifts like swords, Wear silk finery like armor.
“Leda and the Swan.” Today, one by Frost about a mountain
sense of a third margin without not even a mirage of
margem sem nem mesmo miragem de acerto definitivo sequer sobre quais são os dados
definite target not even over what are the data subject to
sujeitos a objeto de corretores de seguros planos
being objects of brokers of insurance health plans betting
de saúde agências de apostas moças do tempo
agencies weather women card tellers prophets managers
cartomantes profetas gestores gurus padres
gurus priests fathers psychologists politicians astronomers
pastores psicólogos políticos astrônomos astros
where a cottage used to stand. Seven sonnets through and I can
see our house, smell the Jamaican coffee brewing in the kitchen.
Lady Kõnikawa’s Thirty-fourth Birthday Festivities over: A welcome honesty In the crispness of her sake.
My husband’s in the shower. Soon we’ll sit down together, the room
stars of all grandeurs endlessly repeating we have to have to
de todas as grandezas a repetir infindavelmente
have to anyway whatever they say is foreseen in the secret
que tem que tem que tem que de qualquer modo o que quer que digam que esteja previsto no
text or the equally inestimable probabilities if the return is
texto secreto ou nas probabilidades igualmente
eternal or if one never enters the same river once and again
inestimáveis se o retorno é eterno ou se nunca
it’s worth keeping one’s attention to the intermittent
se entra no mesmo rio uma e outra vez vale
opening and closing which until looking back can be called
manter-se atento àquele intermitente abrir e
anew no more than the things taking place as if not
fechar que até ao olhar para trás se pode chamar de novo não mais do que as coisas se dando
relaxed, even the clock serene
como se não
SALLY W. BLIUMIS
ANDREA CARTER BROWN
WITH THE HELP OF STRANGERS
IN THE AIR
Each time the father kicks the ball to the sister, the little boy whines, bends his knees, straightens his legs repeatedly as though he kept trying to jump, but his feet won’t leave the grass: the ineffectual ball of his body bouncing up and down.
“Daddy is dead.” The first words I hear today filter down a floor through the ventilation duct as I pour boiling water through coffee. “What?”
JUST LOOKING omen in their fifties shop. There is nothing they need any more but there is still one thing they want, one
final perfect thing they have never had that might be here, in the mall, might just have arrived, might be gone if they wait. They come first thing in the morning, these women, and last thing at night; they come
with dyed hair and gray roots, toned biceps, slack bellies, smudged reading glasses, rundown running shoes. They flush with a slight, welcome, criminal rush as they push through the heavy doors. They are not supposed to be here. They
a querulous voice answers, to which the middle-aged male voice responds, “It’s OK,” but the old woman starts to sob. She’s over a hundred, hard of hearing,
The father and slightly older sister don’t seem to notice or mind. The next time the father passes to her, the little boy steals the purple ball, kicks it down the hill. He runs after it — a staccato whine in time with his pounding feet.
know that. They are supposed to be at home, at work, with their husbands, children, aging parents, incontinent pets. Instead, purses pressed to their sides, eyes darting, steps quick, they enter the bright glassy maze of the mall. Once inside, they stay. Hours pass as they slip through the aisles, rise and fall on the escalators, circle the fountains, fishponds, and flowerpots blocking their way. Their nostrils flatten, flare, flatten again as they follow a trail
The ball rolls to a stranger. Oblivious to his drama, she rolls it back to him, as though he’d done nothing wrong, and the ball should always be his — just enough out of family context, just close enough by
and she cries very loud and won’t stop. From previously eavesdropped conversations I know he’s her sonin-law and that he fights with his wife
only they know, a faint siren scent that leads through the smog of potpourri, the exciting dead whiffs of new perfumes,
and vice-versa because they’ve taken in her ancient, arthritic, deaf and godonly-knows-what-else mother. It’s gotten so I avoid my kitchen, although I love
from side to side. They test exercise equipment, submit to makeovers, read the back covers of novels, flick
the stench of sweet grease from the food courts. Starving, they do not stop to eat. Parched, they do not drink. The bottles of water they brought lie forgotten on the floors of the cars they slammed into parking places at entrances they have also forgotten. They finger labels, hold crystal goblets to the light, press beaded earrings to their lobes, turn their heads blindly through racks of CD’s. They try on clothes they will never wear and clothes they have worn ten, twenty, thirty years before. They take no pleasure in putting these clothes on or taking them off, yet put them on and take them off they do, averting their eyes from their fallen flesh in the mirror, half wanting to fall themselves to the pin littered carpet and rest. But they do not rest. Even though the fluorescent lights, the gossip of clerks, the rumble of carts, the scrape of
to cook. Now the toddler downstairs screams. We’ve heard her hungry, colicky, teething and learning to talk, although she’s actually quite quiet
zippers and the dull pulse of programmed music hurt their heads, they do not fall. They know what would happen if they did: they would never get up, and other women in their fifties would step right over them, headed toward the china, the bath salts, the luggage, the snow boots. And that mustn’t happen. The women push back the dressing room curtains, step out, and continue their zig
to reinforce the boy’s perspective though somewhere inside he knows, as he walks back up the hill, that neither he nor the stranger is right, but what he feels now is calm, as he slides into the space between his father and sister resting on the blue picnic blanket.
for a child, and some nights, when her daddy gives her a bath, great gurgles of laughter rise to our floor and the next and out
zag, stop and start, on and on search. There is still time, they tell themselves. Time to find it before time runs out, time
through the fan-driven top of the air shaft where the wind, moaning now in November, or whistling as it does in warmer weather, carries all our sounds off, mingling
it is, wherever they are. May I HelpYou? the questioner asks. Sometimes a young face, sometimes a face like their own,
to want it before they no longer know what wanting is. Sifting through silks at a table, parting a rack of reduced sequined gowns, checking the price of a watch exactly like the one on their own weary wrists, they lift their heads to the question they have heard all day, all night, whatever tired, strained, anxious eyes elsewhere. No. Oh no, the women say. They rub their stiff necks. Looking, they explain, their voices brave as they smile and move on. Just looking. ‹~›
what floors, walls, and locks on doors attempt but cannot achieve, as though every word ever spoken never dies but lives on in the air we breathe. And that is comfort enough.
... and shattering my own no matter how deep an expression of affection I am trying to demonstrate. In and among them, as I approach clouds barely walking with caution even if caution seems unnecessary,
IN THE VICINITY OF CLOUDS
How infrequently I began this poem unable there is no plane in it to speak of no biplane especially because I do not own one so if I were to ask the clouds to come to me
I’ll often lose my train of thought entirely becoming preoccupied as I will with sharks or sonar and so it’s as little a surprise to anyone how often I return to beginning this poem as it is to me.
that might seem the only logical course of action. Of course it isn’t. Having no biplane as I have mentioned and all other planes seeming some manner of cheating such that I have always been surprised that I found myself wondering why with a head finally recovering from cold medicine the syrup, you understand that I can find in a cabinet receded into the wall leaving me again I’ve never understood but can only surmise
POEMS FROM PHOBOS
that the bottle is itself filled by syrups inside the wall that this having no wife to ever visit the pharmacy how is it that the clouds do not move away from the planes in disgust and how is it the syrup bottle is never-ending
Good lord do prose writers have no sense of imagination? The cats in the snow in heat in the alleyway breaking into the hallway of the building. I refuse to mention the locks on Phobos. I’m not alone, none of us are superintendents. Is the radio on an endless feature? The radio never goes off on Phobos, most things sell at 3 a.m. This is all back story. Things you might like to know before you begin reading Poems From Phobos. So this part is for the critics and the graduate students in snow boots really, which explains perhaps why it’s so bland and prosaic. On Phobos, this sort of poetry is exciting everyday. I hear voices in my hallway reciting it. Gargantuan lungs are most everywhere, I’m only jotting down what I hear.
without overflowing but keeping at such a level permanently within the bottle that it is flush to the edge of the edge of the neck like a martini but leaves the white underside of the cap without blemish or lipstick? Even when I am flush with the edge of the sky I cannot resist stretching my body two extra inches so as to “powder my wig” on the underside of the nearest cloud which is more than a kiss, more distance, as I never wish to hurt my lovers by knocking in their teeth
I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU WERE FROM BROOKLYN
SONG IN THE HALLWAY
But um the kids float to and fro with knowledge gained beforehand. And the cats are making love outside the staircase which is highly instructional or so shout silences opening pipes up above the smell of pipe tobacco rubs into cats fucking a bright frenzy our only source of light until words spill again into the hallway of who is going to wash their hair and the barber cut my hair but too long on top
Let’s not complicate matters by having me predict your every word until before you speak I am pulling up an endless skein of yarn from your throat and knitting it into form so refurbishing your apartment after the fashion you’ve not yet never told me you’d always wanted it. I am incapable of such things. I don’t knit but hope you snuck in here wearing a false moustache as I have to watch my own funeral taking place. I dyed my hair black to watch it happen and dyed the cats black with buckets of floating dye I stripped the bed and dyed the sheets. When the pipes began to sing just after 7 a.m. I dyed them black and poisoned the water for under your fingernails blackening the black of night the black dog are in no ways indebted to me. I am indebted to them.
every complaint by the cats is the same not enough time for humping in this world when my lungs fill up with nitrogen and my lover and I shoot flames from our mouths like nitro-burning funny cars and rocket backwards in the stairwell with our claws dug into one another’s fur. We have only our tails which go sproing against the walls to thank for slowing down our trajectory and putting us back on the clock before another door opens and another adolescent fight breaks out in the hallway.
What I discovered discretely along the wall in the alleyway piling humping cats on my body in the snow for warmth I am from Phobos, no questions asked. A black suit I heard on the radio no questions asked but you would always have it your way with a font of explanations jettisoned from the earth into your ear canals. I am from Phobos, where flushing the toilet means inevitably scalding someone somewhere adding their alto to the chorus among the pipes.
SOMOZA DESVELIOZA LA ESTATUA DE SOMOZA
... SOMOZA UNVEILS A STATUE OF SOMOZA IN SOMOZA STADIUM.
EN EL ESTADIO SOMOZA
MANAGUA 6:30 P.M.
MANAGUA 6:30 P.M. Translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Cohen
Translated from the Spanish by Rodrigo Rojas
En la tarde son dulces los neones No es que yo crea que le pueblo me erigió
It’s not that I believe that the people built this statue, I know better than you do because it was me who commissioned it. I do not pretend to go down in history, because I know that some day the people will destroy it. It’s not that I wanted to build for myself in real life a monument that after my death you would never build: I built this statue because I know you hate it.
esta estatua porque yo sé mejor que vosotros que la ordené yo mismo Ni tampoco que pretendo pasar con ella a la posteridad por que yo se que pueblo la derribará un día Ni que haya querido erigirme a mí mismo en vida el monumento que muerto no me erigiréis vosotros:
y un anuncio ESSO es como la luna
In the evening the neon lights are soft and the mercury streetlamps, pale and beautiful . . . And the red star of a radio tower in the twilight sky of Managua looks as pretty as Venus and an ESSO sign looks like the moon
Las lucecitas rojas de los automóviles son místicas
The red taillights of the cars are mystical
(El alma es como una muchacha besuqueada
(The soul is like a girl being kissed a lot behind a car) TACA BUNGE KLM SINGER MENNEN HTM GOMEZ NORGE RPM SAF OPTICA SELECTA all proclaim the glory of God! (Kiss me under the glowing signs oh God) KODAK TROPICAL RADIO F&C REYES they spell your Name in many colors. “They broadcast the news . . .” I don’t know what else they mean I don’t defend the cruelty behind these lights And if I have to give a testimony about my times it’s this: They were primitive and barbaric but poetic
y las luces de mercurio, pálidas y bellas . . . Y la estrella roja de una torre de radio en el cielo crepuscular de Managua es tan bonita como Venus
detrás de un auto)
sino que erigí esta estatua porque sé que la odiáis
TACA BUNGE KLM SINGER MENNEN HTM GOMEZ NORGE RPM SAF OPTICA SELECTA proclaman la gloria de Dios!
De pronto suena en al noche una sirena
Suddenly the sound of a siren in the night, a prolonged sound, a painful howl of a siren of a firealarm, or death’s white ambulance, like the bellow of a mare in the night, and it gets closer and closer over the streets and the houses, and it rises, rises and fades and it grows, grows, fades and drops and it travels and returns. It’s not a fire, not even death: It’s Somoza passing through.
de alarma, larga, el aullido lúgubre de la sirena de incendio o de ambulancia blanca de la muerte, como el grito de la yegua en la noche, que se acerca y se acerca sobre las calles y las casas y sube, sube, y aleja y crece, crece, baja y se deja creciendo y bajando. No es incendio ni muerte: Es Somoza que pasa
(Bésame bajo los anuncios luminosos oh Dios) KODAK TROPICAL RADIO F&C REYES en muchos colores deletrean tu Nombre. “Transmiten la noticia . . .” Otro significado no lo conozco Las crueldades de esas luces no las defiendo Y si he dar un testimonio sobre mi época es éste: Fue bárbara y primitiva pero poética
From Oración por Marilyn Monroe y otros poemas (1965)
Translated from the Spanish by Rodrigo Rojas
PRIMAVERA EN BANGLADESH
SPRING IN BANGLADESH
Puedes imaginar pocas situaciones tan extrañas como regresar a Bangladesh y ver que las cosas no se han movido del lugar en que las dejaste:
You can imagine few situations as strange as returning to Bangladesh and seeing that things haven’t moved from the place you left them:
las mismas calles
the same streets
Los hechos transcurren a su modo, no sé cómo describirlo
algo así como un dejarse ir en el aire.
Things happen at their own pace, I don’t know how to describe it There are flowers blooming and closing at unnoticeable speed, there are also birds. For those who return to Bangladesh reality comes almost as a symptom of something less relevant, something like letting go in the air.
Andar en el tiempo es estarse quieto.
To drift in time is to stay still.
Estas avenidas viajaron también, a su manera (no sabes cómo describirlo)
juegas a adivinar en cuál de ellas habrá una emboscada para ti
These avenues also traveled, in their own fashion (you don’t know how to describe it) Now that you’re supposed to be back and you walk them, comfortably confused guessing which one holds an ambush for you
El viento te peina las pestañas: ten calma forastero
The wind combs your eyelashes: keep calm, stranger
pues es primavera en Bangladesh lo fue tal vez en otra época, ya no tiene importancia:
for it’s spring in Bangladesh and over everything is a kind of dew, something that is not yet uncertain, or that was maybe at another time, but is no longer important:
un dejarse estar en el aire
a let it be in the air
un dejarse ir en el tiempo.
a let it go in time.
Hay flores abriéndose y cerrándose a velocidades imperceptibles, también hay pájaros. Para quien regresa a Bangladesh la realidad deviene casi un síntoma de otro asunto menos relevante,
Ahora que se supone has vuelto y las recorres, agradablemente confundido
y hay sobre todas las cosas una suerte de rocío de algo que no alcanza a ser incertidumbre, o que
I MET TWO HORSES
YOU IN TRANSLATION
The North Sea has no direction here. It beats the rocks on all
Bent to the lamplight, you raise the dead from the page, your voice stepping over forgotten words like one who, visiting a lost garden after years, finds with a foot the trace of pebble path and a few old roses blooming in the weeds.
We play chess on the roof, mother’s henna on your forehead, your gray hair whisking into tops of other houses.
sides of this island. This far north, the sky is always gray. I’ve come to the end of the road. Beside me, in a field, I see two horses
It’s a poem you are reading, written in a language you barely understand, the language your grandmother spoke but never explained, and you are reading aloud to conjure onions and potatoes in sour-broth soup, wet white sheets on the line, her lace-up corset
shamble knee-deep in yellow grass. They look at me as if I were the wild one. One nuzzles the other’s belly, then they move forward
and lace-up shoes reserved for Sunday mass. Now you are reading the poem in your own language, but you are no longer in the room — Baba is alive again, and your head is bent, the light from your reading lamp lost in the words of your hair.
together. Eyes on me, they stop where the grass stops. This is all they can do. This is as far as they can come.
... your first Walnut Tree. You cut me from the ice of the banyans, swept floor for more sap jewels. Now fighting me, you are more than numbers. More Brahma than atom.
I have you in fifteen moves, you say break the flight of crows overhead with the deep set of your voice. Music: pushing cowards to war.
A board shakes in treetop wind. What I know of the mottled back of my corporate climb hisses evangelical through your toes, a forest disease.
We play until sunset settles the shadow in our pieces. Move, lingeringly, two men of the world remembering in that space of dark lessons. You the liquid God, I drink your stories to the meniscus.
I took the story of the Walnut Tree undressed the roots, sold pictures of its winter limbs. I meant to show you.
I have you in fifteen moves. You just can’t see it, you say over, over, the mantra of set men and the song of my youth.
But you’re too old fashioned for any of this. Too gifted to lose. I wonder how we changed, this adage: To our friends, we should always and always lose.
When I cipher these Wall Street tomes, you whisper above me: Everything is a board. Don’t move till you see it. Wait, wait. Guerrilla tactics meet your floundering hands. Sure, money-making man, we lose our God in dawns of fathers shaking. Still you come now like Shiv invaded your navel, twisted your ribs into steel files. You play in an arena of gray synapses, hard curves elastic, ready. Twin consciousness snapping to beat me
Born a salesman, with a slick grin he lies even to his mother. “Truth’s a slut — a filly,” he laughs, that fierce flush in his eyes. “You must take her, break her, keep her mouth shut.” Others do the work, but he always gets his cut. A perfect pitch, master of the bait and switch, his jive-jazz-hooey’ll hit you in the gut. See, inside him festers an itch he has to scratch. Like a nervous tick or twitch he can’t stop, buys his own crap, can’t keep track of who he told what. Bad habits are a bitch — one will land him in the lake, on his back with concrete feet. A salesman for eternity: carp his only company.
I love the tern, when it sweeps, china-white, against the ridge of variegated green, its way of flashing through once in a random evening, glide more elegant than a gull’s, tail an open shears arrested just before the act of cutting. And when the bird is gone, we cannot stay forever watching the rose-gray light and the lake, whose color — mountain-blue in early summer — is turquoise-emerald by July, as silt moves down from the upper glaciers. We’re coming close when a thing that’s passed becomes a sheen for which we cease to yearn, and we’re ready to welcome night’s granite cast.
MILES A. COON
In childhood, I made a scene in a shoebox, cut a square hole in one end to look into the world created on the floor, ceiling, surrounding walls. Light was my problem, so I slit the lid just enough to see the scene in dim confinement. I painted black-limbed trees against a white cloudless sky, the trunks lined up like kids waiting for the bus. Below the crisscrossed branches, I stuck a clay figure, looking up. When I peered in, I saw myself staring at the world. I never knew what others felt, seeing that boxed-in boy, underneath bare trees, an empty sky.
LAST OF MY SINGING FATHERS
you were amused, too, when Allen Ginsberg gave us oatmeal & seaweed breakfast then took a call & castigated his caller (who would’ve cut his balls off, blaming his religion) — bright morning across the kitchen table, bowl of fruit, open door & breeze among potentillas beyond —
In memoriam Carl Rakosi: passed dead (you might say, not one to mince words) at last, the century gone to bed with you Carl, quietly proud to be Charles, Churl, free man beholden to none — standing with laborers on the street, no poet sitting on his exquisite ass —
so Carl I salute you old friend who signed me ally when we read together, who later recommended the sephardic poets of Spain & touched on the Jewish Eagle in thought — last of my singing fathers — small wrists, fine eyes, gentle touch, yet firm & kind
at eighty, reciting your epic elegy on the decline & last days of your word brother George Oppen, you demanded only silence from your audience, reciting lines into the darkness that we all breathe together more deeply into the unmeasured silence that the voice itself find its own inner rhythm, dissolve — a heartbeat — aged sailor afloat among endless stars & winds, no regrets, bemused, surprised, aware —
Translated from the Portuguese by Flávia Rocha & Anna Ross
SANDRA MARESH DOE
Tudo esquematizado. Abandonar
Everything is design. Abandon
a música. Ficar só com os músculos.
music. Keep only the muscles.
Abastecer com urros a manada
Supply the herd of boys
de meninos tomados pelo rumo.
getting carried away with howls.
about pollution at this chemical or nuclear plant where he works as a maintenance guy or a security guard. How every-
Defesas, tromba, másculas batidas,
Defense, trunk, manly beats,
thing’s cheated and hidden and how he himself is caught there, like a bird in a trap. I feel passionate about what he’s
dor onde ninguém pode chegar perto:
pain where no one comes near:
going to say, and I try to listen hard to his mouth as it waves on his pale yellow skin above his crew cut Asian hair. Later
na imaginação de uma divisa,
in imagining division,
na agonia infinita porque quer
in wanting anguish
que passe logo rápido mas volta
to cease, but it soon returns,
“Oh, I won’t tell,” I say, drawing up one of my legs on my own settee so that it hits my chest.
o primeiro desejo de ser nela.
that first desire of being in her.
Four of these two-person settees stand around the living room like beached whales. The house’s owner felt
O amor está sozinho mesmo agora
Love is alone even now
que o corpo não comporta tanto. Resta
that the body no longer holds so much.
catalogar mais uma variante
All that’s left is to list another variation
de viver, esse lapso de elefante.
of living, this elephant’s lapse.
AIR, SOIL, AND WATER ick and I are talking in this big bungalow where I live on Etna Street, just a block off Telegraph. I fit right into
the Telegraph Avenue crowd in downtown Berkeley with my chemotherapy balding head that I cover up with a bandana. Rick’s been dropped off, because for some reason he doesn’t drive. His friend takes him every-
where. I heard them talking — something about “narc,” but I’m just sure Rick’s no narc. He’s going to tell me the story
I’ll make notes and write up the story. They won’t trace it to him as a security leak. In the muted light of the picture window, his skin looks more ivory. He has short squarish teeth, but full lips. “You can’t tell,” he says again, leaning forward from the brown plaid settee for two. “Promise.”
sorry for me, the chemo-professor-researcher-woman with little children and sister, when I rented this empty bungalow. He said he bought them on sale and told me to use them for the six months I’d be in Berkeley on sabbatical leave. There’s not much to do with them: the shoulder-high frame surrounds the body sinking down into the Olefin foam squares. Even if I put two of them together — front cushions to front cushions — and sort of vault into them, I can’t stretch out my legs, even at an angle. I can’t stretch out with Rick. He might want me. He might. I see his oval head against the backdrop of the picture window, the Acacia bushes, the patio beyond. I see the shock of wiry hair, clipped, standing up straight. But he himself is sagging, wilting, his carriage not erect, not alert. “Is it an electric plant, a shipyard?” I ask, as if I'm playing Twenty Questions. “How would they know you'd
breached security?” His eyebrows look like horizontal slash marks, chopsticks maybe. But his eyes are distant. “People are getting sick from this, you know,” he says. “You shouldn’t be in the Bay Area. You got to be able to breathe to get better. You might think you’re protected over here in Berkeley, but the soot blows across, and it’s got
She carried the day to the streets and the man pretending to bite another. Seeing this, she prepared herself, but with affliction: not now.
Ela carregava o dia na rua e o cara fez que mordia a outra. Ao ver a cena preparou-se. Mas com aflição: não agora.
Later, rummaging through work, she tapped the drain and things opened naturally
Mais tarde, remexendo o serviço, mexendo no ralo as coisas se abriram naturalmente
sulfur dioxide.” He rolls his lips together. He slouches. “It’s dirty, real dirty.” I want those lips that said ‘dirty.’ “What’s sulfur dioxide?” I ask, moving from my settee to his, a flurry of inquiry. I pat his hand. “Want some tea, a beer?” His skin is warm, my fingers cool. He smells like soap, I think, as I bend toward him to listen to his reply. “Toxic,” he says, and I think I almost see his eyes rolling back. Maybe it makes him tired to tell me of the air. “The place breeds pollutants.” He’s closing his eyes, so I take my cue: “Oh Rick, I want to breed, Baby,” I say. “Oh, Man, I say,” nuzzling my
as usually happens with flowers and wings when the time comes.
como de costume ocorre com flores e asas das aves quando chega o momento.
cheek next to his, “I ache.” I think he coughs or says something, but I can’t make it out, as he’s slouched and his chin is dipping down toward his chest. I’ve scooted next to him, and I feel his leg twitch slightly, next to my thigh. I turn around so I’m on my knees, facing him. I reach across his body with both my hands to his face and hold his high cheekbones in my thumbs and slide my fingers into his spiky black hair. I look at his eyes, and they are racing back and forth, tracking something under his lids. Dear slanted eyes. Like he’s talking in his sleep, he mumbles: “suffer and die outside.”
... h, Rick, Sweetie,” I say. He cares about me, I think, as I pull off my shirt, then slide the bra straps off my shoul-
The ocean, like a sleek gray stone perfectly jointed
ders and lift my arms out. I reach up to adjust the bandana on my head to hide my paltry hair, chopped short
To the heads and the bays, a woman walking upon it,
and fuzzy like a baby chicken. Then I slide the bra, laden with its rubbery prosthesis in the special pocket like
The curling scud of the storm around her ankles,
a silicon B 52-Bomber, around to the front where I can unhook it. It thuds into the Olefin of an adjacent settee. I unbutton Rick’s shirt. I slip astride him, and, raising myself up like the Amazon I know myself to be, I thrust
Naked and strong, her thighs the height of the mountain, Walking and weeping, her heavy face hidden in the hands,
my one pale knocker with its indistinguishable pale nipple to his chest: my back arched and ribs thrust out, I rotate back
the lips drinking
and forth on his chest. But I list to port side, the side with the scar that the surgeon started in the pectoral muscle and
the tears in the hollow hands and the hair
sliced at a forty-five degree angle to an inch above my rib cage. Pink radiated skin above a ribcage that I never knew was there. Just right for the bow, Amazon woman. I bobble back and forth with the knocker. I hold on to his head for balance and cover his face with kisses.
Streaming north. “Why are you sad, our Lady?” But a cacophony interrupts me. Rick’s leaned to one side, his mouth is wide open, and he’s snoring! As if he knows I’m cursing him, he snorts, stirs, and raises his head from his chest. He opens his eyes and peers straight at me,
“Rick, Rick,” I say, rocking into him,“I’m not going to suffer and die outside, really. I mean, I’m all white blood cells, and it's the same chemotherapy as Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller, and you see how they can raise
his mouth turned down, his eyes squished up. He looks as if he’d swallowed lemon juice. “This narcolepsy gets me,” he says. “What happened to your clothes?” ‹~›
their arms in triumphant waving. Right out of the hospital.” I raise my left arm to reenact their waving. But Rick doesn’t hear me. It’s like he’s watching a movie projected on his eyelids. Still, I am starting to get results down below, so I keep rocking to facilitate his hardening. I slide his shirt down his shoulders and kiss him over again. Kiss his eyes, his nose, his lips, his chin, and his lips again. Down to his throat I go, to the little hollow at the base of his neck. My bandana slips off, but wait! He’s going to say something! “Soot,” he seems to say. It’s cute how his lips purse up. I return to his mouth. I catch his upper lip in my teeth, gently, and roll it back and forth for a while. But I let go once in a while pushing in my tongue, like a snake testing the air for scent. “Soot? Soot?” I ask him. “It’s not sooty, Man. It’s sweet.” His mouth is open now, and he’s breathing hollow and regular. I wonder if his accent is getting in the way. “Rick, Baby! Do you mean ‘suck?’” I keep rubbing his hairless chest with my knocker, too, although it’s hard to hold my position astride him. I slide my hands down his from his head to his shoulders and back. His head jets forward onto his chest. I hang on and rock hard, my jeans rubbing his trousers. he clothing is unsatisfactory. I unbuckle his belt, unzip his pants. His snail is uncurling, yes. I let go of his back
and put my hands on the back of the settee, slide my left foot down into its fabric lining and crab my way up off his lap, so I can stand up for a second and step out of my jeans. Now I am naked before him, me with my c-section scar on my round stomach topped over my sturdy legs, my
graceful ankles, me with my half-a-chest or breast, the barrel ribbed scar and single breast pendulum, me with the chopped short hair, sticking out at angles, me with the square forehead with a few mild fissures crossing it, me with the sparse eyebrows, me with the blue eyes peering out from oiled lids and decayed eyeliner, mascara slipped to the fine skin below the eye, me. I stand before him. I could fold my left arm up across the chest scar. I could cradle my head in that hand and hide it. I could hold my elbow with the other hand. I could be like the woman at Point Sur that the poet wrote about and the artist painted. How do the lines go?
SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY
Holding — bearing — carrying. To have is not to surrender pockets of the mind where hurt sojourns.
Embrace me so we imagine the hint of our hurried bones,
have air conditioning. Even if our families could afford the inefficient units, the wiring in the pre WWII buildings was
Summer in New York City — unpleasant as it is today, in the mid-sixties and before most apartments didn’t not capable of supporting the electrical load. The only air conditioning I remember was in movie theaters and big stores.
the idea of the beautiful flickering in all the ways we could get hurt —
Slighted by the least attention paid to another, stunned by someone’s blue rage, or, at the least, betrayed,
betrayed by the purity of light, almost tender, the way a pianist
Instead we had to find other ways to cool off. On hot summer nights we’d either sleep on the fire escapes or just hang out with friends on the stoop until we were exhausted and eventually felt sleep coming on. We were too far from the beaches like Rockaway or City Island unless we were with an adult and didn’t have the cash to go to the only pool in the neighborhood, the Miramar. The option left was the river. We actually had two rivers and a connecting canal to choose from.
leans into the blistering keys, staggering with ruin, refusing to focus.
lied to, not apologized to: How many of these tales do you exile beneath your skin until you’re
Some choice. You couldn’t pay me to swim in those waters and I didn’t. Beside the strong currents of the Hudson and East Rivers, not to mention area called Spuyten Duvel which is where the Hudson met the waters of the East River. There was also a relative calm area which was a canal built around the turn of the century. Overlooking this
O my opulent marquee, my recipe for shoes, bees, salt:
positively pouched — squirrel-cheeked — with griefs? No wonder no one can get close to you
stewed in a thimble, embrace me with candled crosses,
canal was a gigantic rock that had an equally impressive “C” painted on this rock by students of Columbia University who had their stadium, Bakers Field near by. Before the canal was built at certain times of the day you could walk across from what is now the Bronx to what is now Manhattan. Native Americans used to do just that and ended up “selling” Manhattan to Peter Minuet one day when they were over here from the Bronx.
with the sadness of symphonies, with laughter
with all those layers of chagrin. So easy, wasn’t it, telling your four-year-old: Forgive. Raise clenched fists high
of harlequin hats. Embrace me with the blowsy, minuet branches:
The reason I wouldn’t swim in the river though had nothing to do with currents, currents that claimed Inwood youths for as long as I remember. The bodies were usually found two or three days later down near the George Washington Bridge. No, the reason I wouldn’t swim in the water was because of the SHITLINE. At regular intervals during the day all the sewage was dumped into the rivers. When the sewage was released it would float in a long line in whatever direction the current was going. In this line was everything that people flushed
with the crumbling choreographies of chance and let them go.
down toilets. Mainly toilet paper, used condoms, and shit. Hence the name shitline. I was a pretty decent swimmer in a pool but the thought of swimming in that water made me sick. Luckily there was still a way for someone to hang out with the guys that swam and provide a service. You could be the lookout.
For you it’s not so simple. Admit you hold each insult in. Know what you need to lose? Not pounds. Wounds!
The lookout kept an eye out for the shitline and when you saw it, you’d stand up and yell, SHITLINE! SHITLINE! And everyone would get out of the water. Unless you were too close to the shitline or your lookout didn’t see it soon enough. When this happened you had only one choice. Dive to the bottom of the river and stay there as long as you could. If you were lucky you would find yourself in clean water when you swam to the top. If not you broke the water into the middle of the shitline and become covered in all kinds of disgusting stuff. Slowly but surely, once they built the sewage treatment plants the water got cleaner and cleaner. But before it was totally effective they started swimming races around the Island of Manhattan. People from all over the world, many not from New York came to race around the island. Before each race they would send out these boats. Boats whose only job was to clear the river of all kinds of floating objects along the race route. The boat had a big open front that would scoop up objects in its path. I saw a
... documentary about the race and they interviewed the
Translated from the Portuguese by Flávia Rocha & Idra Novey
March-weary, I waver in the atrium under a million golden flies. A mosaic of crows crowds the piazza like a shadow of the piazza flown free, the many yellowcoated men moving with the ease of figure skaters across boardwalks. Inside St. Marks, perspectiveless, byzantine, saints stand frozen in their whirling waters — the reverse of everything this city holds: that night is a one-legged bird with mercury eyes, dying every time a faithful touches it. Faith, night says, is a water mortuary. Outside the rain drowns the piazza. Who teaches this city to drown itself?
A pressa do café mancha o sapato
The rush for coffee stains my shoe the late wheat breaks through the marble
captain of this boat. He was a salty old guy who’d seen a lot. They asked him what the strangest object he ever scooped from the water and he said it was a giraffe. Seems a barge carrying circus animals lost one of its passengers. Just another day’s work for a Captain in the waters of New York City. During one of these races, a friend of mine was walking over the bridge toward his job in the Bronx. He saw the swimmers and the boats that accompanied them and realized they were swimming into a shitline, not like a sixties shitline but a shitline none the less. Being a good citizen my friend started yelling the dreaded words. SHITLINE SHITLINE but of course the racers not being Inwood natives had
o trigo tardio quebra no mármore Você quer ser o banho e
You want to be the bath wash away the discolored blood
esvair o sangue descorado Mas osso faz barulho, e carne
But bone makes noise, and flesh is hard ground for tragedy
é solo firme para o trágico É cedo ainda. O pêlo da pantera espera a dor sacar a espada
It’s early yet. The panther’s hair waits for pain to draw its sword
OS ESQUEMAS DO PASSAGEIRO
THE PASSENGER’S PLOTS
Os esquemas do passageiro
mas sempre sai
The passenger’s plots are spirals he walks into the circle but always leaves
O passageiro não perde a noção do cais
The passenger never loses track of the docks
Nem perde a volta
Nor misses his return nor stops to rest
O passageiro não perde a noção do mar
The passenger never loses track of the sea
no idea what he yelled and swam right through the shitline in their quest to win the race. I think I’d rather lose the race than swim through a shitline. Toilet paper sticking to you, condoms plastered to you. I'm sure the people that ran the races didn’t warn anyone about the shitline. That was something you had to learn the hard way. ‹~›
são espirais ele entra na roda
que faz nem pousa
THE ALCHEMY OF APOTHECARY
LIÇÃO DE TRAVESSIA
Sempre que vejo um rio
Every time I see a river it seems that Argentina is on the other side
parece que do outro lado está a Argentina As balsas carregadas da infância
The heavy rafts of childhood escaped my sight but the bridge remained as the eternal promise that all banks can be walked
sumiram do meu olhar mas a ponte permaneceu como eterna promessa de que todas as margens podem ser pisadas O mundo não tem lado certo por cima de todas as águas
The world doesn’t have a right side as there is a solid bridge over every water
He stood up because there wasn’t any space sighed because morning doesn’t open
pois há uma ponte sólida
porque não havia mais espaço Suspirou porque a manhã não abre Caminhou
Walked toward Mars
em direção a Marte Porque no quarto
Because in the room life had already dried
a vida já secou
It’s March 1997 and I’m sitting in the Rutgers University Student Hall. Less than two months from graduating, impending spring sprouting early green and chatter of summer sojourns, and I’m in a poetic mood. In New Brunswick that fix is easily fixed: Miguel Algarin, founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café, has held professorial residency for decades. Some of my best literary experiences occurred in the ocular abstraction also dubbed his classroom, and on this particular eve Algarin hosted an old friend. Amiri Baraka commanded the night with raging demands for social liberation, simple quests of spiritual elevation and John Coltrane, that is, Train. Before he rode those unforgettable choruses in that distinct, distinguished manner, a young emcee nearly stole the show, a domineering figure with an Afro and giant lips speaking larger verse. This hipster’s street slang fused with intellectual one-offs and uncanny cadence made the entire room speculate on the spectacle. I marked his name in memory and waited. Two years later and I’m in my Jersey City digs digging Slam, an indie film that had garnered much acclaim. The lead actor’s sultry staccato slicing silence, citing urban mythology with downtrodden euphemisms and gallant glimpses of hope led me to scream sudden war chants around my living room. To this day the jail cell scene – two prisoners emerging from a perceived underworld with brilliant freestyles, one keeping rhythm on a rusted desk – remains among one of the best spontaneous cinematic moments these eyes have witnessed. Like that night two
By Derek Beres
years prior, raw, unfiltered and unprovoked emotions spilled from every vocal nuance this poet released. Another name scribbled into permanent thought. And there they would remain, two future geniuses awaiting proper foundation, brilliant poets so deeply embedded in oral tradition they were certain to leave long legacies. Both have severely different styles, subtle and wide departures from café poets reciting heart-stringing cliches and political and anti-political and politically political and…well, they were both vibrant, devoted. Yet they would always (as they are right now) be thrown into the same articles, cited by similar sources, run like-minded circles like verbal marathon champions. It would be another two years before I saw Carl Hancock Rux. A humid evening at Central Park Summerstage and I was already skeptical. The man who decimated doubt of the power of man and microphone had turned to singsong poems on the mundanely mediocre Rux Revue. That night, as on record, overextending his range, he attempted to throw Barry White smoothness into glorified funk and soul. The result was not unlike beat-jazz of the ‘50s and ‘60s where any poet with a friend in a band was suddenly divined with the gift of vocalist. Rux Revue had its moments, but overall remained disappointing. Maybe it was just sentimentality, knowing Rux’s a cappella strength and also certain it wasn’t in that trite background music attempting to add flavor to his lyrics.
... Not a year later Amethyst Rock Star hit shelves as Saul Williams claimed his own stake in the poetry-music thang. While keeping the integrity of his performances, the overuse of searing guitars and constant screaming (what works live does not necessarily translate at home) made this record quickly forgotten. Dismayed, distraught, rather disgusted in fact, I wondered where these crowned princes were amid the rabble and confusion of trying to make poetry accessible to audiences outside the predestined open-mic and slam circuit. Even with all this I couldn’t hate on them, they were trying, stretching newborn legs into uncharted territory attempting to forge future verse. As irony, or fate, or coincidence, though I doubt the latter, would have it, my seven-year-itch was finally soothed. In the same week Apothecary Rx (Giant Step) and Saul Williams (Fader) found their way to my stereo. And unlike previous visits, these CDs would not leave for quite some time. In fact, they haven’t left as I sit here mulling over memory, futures and the plausibility of truly inspired poetry. Rux has found his niche, allowing the better, subtler aspects of singing through in an amazingly produced, richly musical recording. Instead of “music behind poetry,” these are simply great songs, or poems, or whatever you wish. Forget Revue, the rolling Arabic-tinged drum roll of the opening “I Got A Name” is Rux Deluxe, an initiatory call with mellow hip-hop beat, his voice in two pitches echoing the last, layering shrills of the song’s title with quick-witted verses of “TV new got you fooled you” and “No seventh son born of a seventh sun.” Rux is able to keep R&B/soul tinges worthwhile on “He,” admitting “I am a man who thinks too much, drinks too much and such/I am a man who sings too much, brings too much and such, I am.” The choice cut, however, is “Ground,” not due solely to trademark Ruxian bass-tone storytelling, but rather the luscious, gorgeous hook “I’ve walked around the same ol’ ground, I know/I belong to some-
body” provided by Stephanie McKay. He gets further help by guitarist/vocalist Vinicius Cantuaria (this year’s Horse & Fish is a top Brazilian release) and DJ Ron Trent, adding further liner note cred to an eclectic wonderland that is his mind. Like a true pharmacist, not only is Rux’s medicine cabinet filled with a world of influences, sonic, literary and rhythmic. This constant alchemy of vowels and verbs tripping brilliantly overtop another would make Apothecary Rx the best poetry/music album this year, this decade, if not for one simple fact. There is another. If we call Carl sugary sweet and soulful, Saul is an able time bomb two ticks from eternity. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Saul Williams is well rounded. Returns to punkfilled two-note thrashing on “Grippo” and heavy metal throwback “Telegram” are slightly more evolved than Amethyst. Yet by “Act II Scene 2 (Shakespeare),” even in the chaos of a thick wall of drum machine and distorted guitar, true finesse emerges. Helped out by Zack de la Rocha, the former Rage Against the Machine vocalist matches Williams’ smart social theory with astute regard. From there on, the album is sheer genius. A minimalist bass drum/hi-hat backbeat runs beneath “African Student Movement,” eventually building with reggae bassline and multi-tracked vocals. Gun fire is scattered throughout the record, literally and in his chopped up didactics, the latter showcased on “PG” as he scats “And when the party’s through here’s what you need to do/Just hold that mic right to your heart and hear the beat of you/I got a heart beat produced by God and boy it sound hard.” And as every record has “that song,” here its “Black Stacey,” a jazzy intonation building slowly into modern vaudeville. Anyone bold enough to contrive the verse “Like the time you Flavor Flaved me and you called me Yo Chuck” is OK in this book, or article, or review of two poets destined for one goal, or whatever you wish. ‹~›
ELLEN KIRVIN DUDIS
They gather around her — one of them now — like butterflies. The bright hibiscus blouses, the leopard shorts and lamé sandals crowd a sundrenched lobby with the loss of spouses, and in their vivid sympathies, the ring of seashells, hear me too! initiates her: Life, they say, life goes on remembering, remember him? remember when? The future becomes the past, and lush outrageous heat recalls the glamour. All alone at night, they paint the tiptoes of their bunioned feet bougainvillea. A pelican in flight stops time. Even now, as the day he died blooms on their lips, the brides sigh, full of their bridegrooms.
Every single year We gather around the tree Opening old wounds
WAKING MY MOTHER
She slept like the dead, or like an actress playing dead as I tried patting her shoulder, then pushing, then both hands on both shoulders, her head nodding on a rubber neck. I hated being that close to her, the stale night smell of her, the thought of her breasts bobbing free in a gauzy nightgown under the covers. I cried — C’mon, Mom, get up! Get up, Mom! — getting louder, until the skin on the bridge of her nose pinched, and her eyes squinted open, back to the surface of this world: Dad, Andy, me, a failing yarn store, six spoons of sugar to get her coffee down.
MOIRA EGAN ANOTHER ELEGY
Another elegy, another year, another glass of wine, another slice of bread cut off like time, another fear. Another day spent wasted in a bed, depression complicated as the sheets I’ve wrapped around myself like the embrace of one who’s gone eleven years now. Face it, he is dead, the only voice you hear’s the one that echoes in your head, the ghost of all the words you never spoke, the tears you swallowed. All the starless nights you played that fugue by Bach whose final forty bars are lost to us, another deathbed scene. Another year. Another elegy.
ARMANDO FREITAS FILHO
Translated from the Portuguese by Flávia Rocha & Anna Ross
A VISIT WITH KALI
FRAGMENTOS DE “NUMERAL”
FRAGMENTS FROM “NUMERAL”
The things I want to write about are gone — there’s nothing here around me but a room — the European tombs and past are far away. Here nothing tombs me but a night extending, flat as anchors through warm sky.
The dark highway led me from the others, and then a narrow path led to Kali.
What were those monuments, the ones I felt around in death to find, and always found? What princes’ tombs were they? What mummied corpses? What friends? I have no culture here, how lone-
I could see her, sitting and sewing on a huge tapestry as rich as death. I saw in its folds a glimpse of creation, animals, planets, mountains, and trees, embroidered thick with contrasts and colors, on a background as warm as blood.
1. Thinking is within hand’s reach but doesn’t start. This wall looks as if it is made of anger. I jump with my feet together, falling inside you, inside me. My heart takes off with all horses. I think: a hanging, a curative.
O pensamento à mão mas não engrena.
I walked cautiously, knowing my belly full of wide wings, night, and starlight.
Parede parece feita de raiva. Pulo de dois pés juntos para dentro de você, de mim. O coração parte com todos os cavalos. Penso: dependurado, curativo.
21. On the ropes
Nas cordas para cordas então
ly without corpse or market square; I have no death (which means I have no life); no hope of monuments, no fear of tombs. I am an ugly child, doomed to kill the ancestors’ possessions with a shadowed blast that my towns make clear. I shut my door, I close my life, I close my home, I close my ear. I live a day in this desert. A whole night.
I spoke cautiously, knowing my belly full of wide wings, night, and starlight.
já não mais incólume à música
Did I have to explain what I wanted? Did she wait till I tried to explain? No, of course not. She’d known my story before I had come. She was Kali.
(Ouso sentir, sem segurança
for ropes which are no longer safe from music, neither from the loud sounding of beats.
nem ao volume dos golpes altos.
I dare feel, foolhardy, what the body doesn’t use outside of death.
o que o corpo não utiliza a não ser na morte). Acorde. Escuta do que percute
I moved bravely, knowing my belly full of wide wings, night, and starlight.
I live another day. And wait for night, night, night, that has no markings right. The hieroglyphs of Egypt and the tombs of Rome, the menhirs of the Druids and the markings there, none are right. Go from the markings. Night.
Wake up. Listen to what strikes and shortens life, until it’s verse: injury to those who write and those who read, attentive to pain.
e encurta a vida, até o verso: ferida para quem escreve e para quem lê, atenta para a dor.
And here in warm night where the ship, the air, rocks through our country’s music, I have gone out to another forest, whose warm tombs — the chalk face on the hills, the bodies in the sand I’ve never seen — run still, and fill my blood, and too close languages stare in my face.
... AO TEMPO "Algumas folhas da amendoeira expiram em degradado vermelho"
“Some leaves from the almond tree expire in degraded red” — Carlos Drummond de Andrade
This spring I’ve begun to make my bed every morning after getting up
he comenzado a hacer mi cama Enganado. Desde o dia zero.
Mistaken. Since day zero. A quarter eaten. Deceiving myself throughout the following half. Awake now in the tight quarter that is left, that I know: ache and enthusiasm! Looking at the growing shade, not so slow as when it was over the almond tree at midday. It wears this gesture like a glove, and, dressed so, stretches across the afternoon’s high ceiling.
Um quarto comido. Enganando-me durante dois quartos depois. Desenganando agora no quarto apertado que ainda sobra, que ainda sinto: dor e entusiasmo! Vendo a sombra cada vez maior não tão lenta como quando estava sobre a amendoeira do meio do dia, enluvando o gesto que, ao se vestir assim, se alonga no teto alto da tarde.
todas las mañanas después de levantarme Busco domesticarme con pequeños rituales
I domesticate myself with simple rituals doing the dishes paying the bills fixing breakfast lunch tea and dinner
lavar platos pagar cuentas hacer el desayuno almuerzo once y cena Busco la manera perfecta
en el gimnasio
I´m searching for the perfect way of fixing my hair and doing aerobics at the gym
para verte desde lejos
just to see you from afar and fool myself that my life’s no longer written down the page that it’s not a line and much less a poem
de arreglar mi cabello y de hacer aeróbicos
Translated from the Spanish by Caroline Strelitz
BARQUITOS DE PAPEL
I see the misery of my neighborhood the streets flooded with the paper boats that kids fold
Veo la pobreza de mi barrio las calles inundadas llenas de barquitos de papel que los niños recortan
con que mi vida ya no se escribe hacia abajo que ya no es un verso largo
en el barro
I see the misery of my neighborhood the little paper boats shipwrecking like tiny lights in the mud
LA CHICA MÁS LINDA
THE PRETTIEST GIRL
la chica más linda de la fiesta
The prettiest girl at the party has a plastic bag on her head her fingers stained with ink and her fingerprints all over the city
Veo la pobreza de mi barrio barquitos de papel naufragando como lucecitas
tiene una bolsa plástica en la cabeza marcas de tinta en los dedos sus huellas digitales en toda la ciudad
Translated from the Spanish by Caroline Strelitz
y menos un poema
WHEN THAT DEAD GIRL FROM THE CLUB TOUCHED MY JACKET
In undisclosed locations, before a mecca of the idealess (we are everywhere but we are silent) you can hear us feasting, dogs in human form fisting a carcass in the flickering livingroom. We applaud the cold hands of the surgeons who scalp the rich their theatres white and green, who measure things in inches, who themselves are familiar with the hypodermic sting. Black as the winds blowing against the House of Windsor is the future for those CEO’s… Cold as the stiletto that went though the forehead of that guy at the girlybar.
Awareness restful & fake is fatiguing – Ezra Pound Canto 85 Behind him the moon hung in the sky like a rockstars testicle dangling from leather pants. He toasted the audience and proposed a polite violence, said of those celebrities present that despite the extensive coverage — ‘I remain unfamiliar with your work’. Was he to know that all the virtues nurtured in youth would end abruptly on the battlefield, a DU tankshell cleaving his genius in 2, a waste of education, the chesspiece of a CEO, he may have left in the same bus as that dead girl that touched his jacket.
Take the back off your shirt to help me clean my windscreen.
THIS FLESH, THIS GHOST Had he not been rich, they would have said Annabel was throwing herself away on a blind man. They said so anyway, watching the way she had to lead him down Joubert Street like a dog. He should be marrying the older one, they said. How would someone like him know the difference between one girl and another? Well, I could have told them how. The man had ears. Ever since Annabel was a child, they themselves had been remarking on the differences between us. She was tall and beautiful and she sang like a bird. I was shapeless and shy, with small eyes and a large thick nose. Next to her, what could I be to any man, even a blind one? “Go and tell her he is arrived,” Ma said to me. “And don’t yell.” The sound of him shuffling up the front steps always put her into a bad mood, and today he was staying for lunch, an extra reason. “Why does he have to smile for nothing?” she would grumble. “One of these days I’m going to tell him myself there’s nothing to smile about with such an affliction.” Ma had always been unsettled by an affliction greater than her own. All her life, from youth to widowhood,
Walk across the soft floor of the carnival house with me — said she gesturing seductively, hand down her pants. Who did they hire to put the nailed boards under the foamfloors so you sink down and slowly pierce your feet. Who let the anti-self out of the fucking bag?
THE DUCKS WON’T EAT RALPH’S BREAD
from one country to another, she had been followed by disappointment. Nothing except Annabel had ever come along to reward her expectations. And now this. found Annabel stretched out on her bed, examining a picture she had just cut out of a magazine. She was a lazy
Take a hammer to her masks, she was never your friend.
Down there at the docks where we watched a rooster eat a shark where the tinkle of the organ grinder ground down the tunes to meat and we picked among the bleeding notes to find the overture of dreams, broken like Ralph’s heart when the ducks won’t eat his bread, when he really needs a friend, when his valentine has handed back his love, when the truck is out of gas and you’re feeling so wound up, the streets like rubber bands knock your glasses off your face and rolling down the hill through a strangers fence you find yourself up against another wall in life, if not finance then romance.
girl, secretive and strange as well. All around the walls were pictures – not film stars and glamour girls, just things she took a fancy to – a pilot leaning on the wing of a small plane, a view of a bay from a balcony, with yachts and
swimmers, and white cliffs in the distance. “Close the door,” she said to me, “I can’t stand it. She’s frying onions for a change.” I picked up the picture she had been looking at. It was a painting really, but if you cut off the frame, you would think it was real – a real pool in a real forest. Three nymphs were in the pool, all naked, and they had caught hold of a creature – half bull, half man, with horns and hooves and a wild look in his eye. “What is it?” I asked. But she was sitting at the dressing table now, humming. She was always humming. I used to think she did it to remind me that I couldn’t keep a tune myself. But really it had nothing to do with me. It was herself she was pleasing, the way the mirror pleased her, and people turning to watch her pass in the street. “What if we could suddenly disappear?” she said. “I mean, dissolve? Like sugar? Or like salt?” She was full of questions like this, but they were never interesting to me. What I liked was to stand in the kitchen, weighing flour against eggs, or to work out a pattern for a blouse from Ma’s old taffeta skirt. I was the one who would be making Annabel’s wedding dress. Years ago she had cut a picture of a bride out of Mc Call’s Magazine, and for years I had been staring at it, wondering how I would pin the tucks to hide the seams and darts. “Have you ever thought that if you cut a loaf of bread in half, it can never be whole again?” she asked into the mirror.
Like when the ducks won’t eat Ralph’s bread and he knows though a virtual boy about this game of flesh.
“What if we could see our bodies growing older from one hour to the next? What if we knew exactly when we were going to die?”
hen I came downstairs, he was standing at the front window, as if he could actually see out. Until the wed-
truth – that even in the agony of dying, he had smiled at the sight of Annabel. Ma could never stand Annabel’s greed-
ding, he and Annabel were only allowed to meet if I was with them. She would put on a record, and then
iness, the way she wanted everyone else’s eyes on her wherever she went. It would never be enough, Ma said, never. And
they would sit on the couch and she would sing along while he ran his fingers all around her face and down
now look – any man in the world could stare at her and the husband wouldn’t even know the difference. Ha!
in love with her for the first time.
as she sang. I closed my eyes as usual, trying to join in, but it never worked. Annabel had always made up the games
her throat. You could see that for both of them she was up on the stage and he was down in the audience again, falling I was at the City Hall the night it had happened. I had watched him follow his aunt to their seats, smiling,
They were playing the blind game on the couch, the two of them, his fingertips resting lightly on her throat we played, and there was nowhere that I could think of in this one for me.
excusing himself to the people he bumped into. He had worn a navy cravat and a white linen suit. People said he was
After they were married, they were to go and live in his house with his aunt, Ma and I could go too if we want-
too handsome to be blind. They also said he was too shy to find a wife. And that girls came to his house all the time,
ed to, Annabel said. But Ma just laughed at the idea. Every mother in town had wanted that house for her daughter,
cheap girls from the docks. And that it wasn’t girls he wanted at all, or why wouldn’t he have found one for himself
but Ma could find nothing right about it. It was too dark, she said, and too big, and too full of ghosts. If she had come
whether he could see her or not?
in while he was playing his blind game with Annabel, or with me, she would have thrown him out right then. But when
“Beatrice?” he said, turning as I came into the room. By now he always knew which of us had come in. But
he was in the house, she never came near. She went to the kitchen, and stayed there until it was time for lunch.
the first time he’d come to the house, he’d tried to give me the roses he’d brought for Annabel. It was his aunt who’d had to pull his arm back. “This is the older sister,” she’d explained to him. “Perhaps they’ll be able to share the flowers later.” He reached into his pocket now and held out a small box with a bow on top. “I brought you a present, Beatrice,” he said. He often brought presents for no reason. If Ma saw them, she clicked her tongue and said, “One of you isn’t enough for him? Maybe he wants me too, that chancer.”
fter lunch, he was taking Annabel and Ma to town with his car and driver. Whatever Ma said, Annabel
wouldn’t hear of taking the tram any more. “She thinks she’s the Queen of Sheba,” Ma said. “She thinks she’s the Queen of the Castle.” “Beatrice,” he said, “won’t you come with us?” I stared at him. Perhaps, if he’d been a normal man, I would have found it easier to talk to him. Sometimes,
But still, I loved to get whatever he gave me. So far, I had a sewing box and an alarm clock, a small leather
when I stood at the front window, watching the driver help him out of his car, there were things I could think of saying.
purse, and, for my birthday, a real fur collar for my coat. At first I had thought he was trying to be fair to us because he
But then, when he bent his head to ask one of his questions, I became as silent as he was blind. “Did you make this pud-
had chosen Annabel and not me, but then, one day, when I led him into the lounge, he lifted his fingers to my face and
ding, Beatrice?” he would say across the table. “Who taught you to cook, Beatrice? Your mother?” And Ma, turning
ran them all around my cheeks and my forehead and into my hair. I stood still as a stone as he moved them down my
furiously from the sideboard, would say, “She can cook and she can sew, and she’s got a head on her shoulders too, I can
neck and along my shoulders, and by the time I heard Annabel coming down the stairs, I was half faint with wanting
tell you that.”
him to go on.
All morning, Ma had been dressed for the trip to town. She would go there smelling of onions as usual, and,
I opened the box and found a silver charm bracelet there, with three charms hanging from it – a pair of scis-
as usual, the sales lady would turn away from her with a little cough. If Ma noticed this, she didn’t care. She was proud,
sors, a mirror, and a bicycle. He wouldn’t have bought it for Annabel because she loved only gold, like a gypsy. She even
prouder even than Annabel. When they walked down the street together, people turned to watch them – a beautiful girl
looked like a gypsy in the bangles and hoop earrings he had given her. “Tell me how she looks in them, Beatrice,” he
and her proud mother.
would say. “Tell me how she looked when she sang the habanera.” Other girls could sing the habanera much better than Annabel, everyone knew that. But she was the one they
He leaned towards me. “But why don’t you come with us, Beatrice? Don’t you want to help Annabel choose the wedding material?”
chose to sing it at the City Hall. When she began, with her black eyes and her black hair flashing, even the blind man sat
Annabel laughed. “Beatrice hates choosing things,” she said. “She likes to stay home and tidy up. Can you imagine?”
forward. Then he turned to his aunt to ask who she was, and the aunt opened her program and ran her finger down the names.
He stretched his hands over his knees. They were large and strong like the paws of the lions at the entrance
His fingers were just moving from my cheeks into my hair when Annabel swooped into the lounge. She never
of the City Hall. At night, lying in bed, I would try to remember how they had felt on my skin. But when he wasn’t
seemed to notice what he was doing. She just went to the gramophone as usual, and put on a record. Then she led him
there, it was hard to believe he had ever touched me at all. It was as if I were two people – the one who had stood with
to the couch.
him in the lounge, and the one lying in the bed next to Annabel, knowing it was impossible
“I’ve been thinking,” she said, “If you’re going down a road and you turn left, it doesn’t matter how hard you
His mother had had the money, Ma told us, and just look, it had brought happiness to no one. First, this boy
want to, you’ll never be going right. Isn’t that funny?”
born blind, then another born dead. As for the father – well, he’d had to ask for everything he needed, every coin for
I sat opposite them in our father’s old armchair. It was fifteen years since he had died, and still the chair held the shape
every button. What sort of a life was that for a man, she wanted to know? No wonder he took to women and to drink.
of him, the smell of his pipe. When Annabel asked me what he’d been like as a father – wanting to hear about herself,
No wonder he dropped dead either. And then, within a year, the widow went too. So what was left? A blind boy and
really, anything I could tell her – I said he’d hardly noticed her, he was that sort of man. I knew Ma wouldn’t tell her the
his aunt? Where was the happiness in that?
“Lunch!” she yelled from the dining room.
as if I had always known how it would look, how this would happen, just like this – so strange and so ordinary that there
Annabel got up and walked ahead, leaving him to me. When they were not playing their blind game, she
was hardly a difference between them.
seemed to forget that he couldn’t see. He had to ask her to cut up his chop, or to hand him the salt and pepper. And yet nothing had changed since that first night after the concert in the City Hall. If his aunt hadn’t pushed him forward then, Annabel wouldn’t have noticed him then either. It would never have happened at all. “Beatrice,” he said, “would you mind taking me down the passage?” I was always talking him to the lavatory. I didn’t mind. He never talked to me in the passage, never asked me one of his questions. I would just stand outside the door, waiting. It was as if it was a secret between us – what he was doing in there, and me outside, listening.
hen they came home from town, Ma was the one who took one look at me and knew exactly what had
happened. She didn’t give him a chance to explain, she just chased him out of the house like a thief, with Annabel screaming behind her. Then she locked the door, and we all stood in silence, listening to
him call out to his driver to lead him down the steps. For a month after that no one spoke to me – not Ma and not Annabel. I set about making the wedding dress anyway, working out the pattern on tracing paper on the dining room table. I knew that they were watching me through
This time, though, he stopped half way down the passage. “I wish I could marry you both, you know, Beatrice,” he said softly.
the glass doors, and that there was nothing they would do to stop me. But then I had to tell them what else had happened. And so, after all, I was the one he had to marry, and Annabel was the one who had to come and live with us. Ma
It was a ridiculous thing to say, and I took my hand from his elbow, wanting to leave him to find his own way
wouldn’t think of it, not until she had a stroke and couldn’t argue any more.
to the lav. But I didn’t. I just stood there, wishing I could find the words to tell him that I was proud too, and that if
Annabel herself seemed hardly to notice that she wasn’t the real wife. She still sang and played her records, and had the
people thought I was jealous of Annabel, well I had never expected what she wanted for her life. Until now, I had never
car and driver to take her wherever she wanted to go. Sometimes, she would put on the wedding dress and sweep down
wanted anything that I couldn’t have.
the stairs into the hall, and then I was the one who had to tell him how she looked in it, with the train behind her and
He began to finger his moustache. It was a habit he had whenever he was thinking, holding his finger straight
her head held high.
and then moving his lip this way and that along it. “Will you be home by yourself this afternoon?” he said.
He still brought presents for us, silver for me and gold for her. And then, one night, they took up the blind game again.
I laughed, I couldn’t help it. He was like Annabel, sitting at the dressing table mirror. “How can you be two things at
And after that he began to go to her room. Every night he was with one of us or the other, making his way along the
once?” she would say. “Left and right? Here and there? How?”
passages by himself. And so we both had his children, and no one in the town would have anything to do with us,
although they watched us wherever we went. alf an hour after they’d left for town, he was back, tapping on the glass of the front door. He didn’t smile when
In a way, it was just as it had always been, except that now I was the one standing in the kitchen, chopping onions, and
I let him in, didn’t say anything as I led him into the lounge and then stood there, waiting for the game to
Ma could only sit in her wheelchair, staring. I knew what she would say if she could say it – that I was anybody’s fool,
begin. He just stood there himself with his fists clenched. Then he staggered a bit, groping around for some-
working in the kitchen or the sewing room when I could be the one sitting back like a lady, giving orders. If I brushed
thing else to hold onto. When he found my father’s chair, he grasped it from behind as if he thought he might faint.
her hair or wiped the food from her mouth, she screamed so pitifully that the children all came running. They stood
“I should never have come back,” he said. “I’m not going to stay. Please, Beatrice, take me back to the front door.”
around her wheelchair, wanting more. Only Ma seemed to amaze them, the way she bared her teeth for no reason, or
I stared at him. He was moving his head from one side to the other as if searching for me.
clawed at the air as if there was something to hold on to. ‹~›
“Please, Beatrice!” he said. “Help me! I am foundering in obscenity!” I laughed out loud then. I wanted to tell him how Annabel herself laughed at his fancy words, how she laughed at anything she liked about him. “Do you think he smiles in the lav?” she would ask me. “Do you think he smiles when he’s actually doing it?” “Every night,” he said, “monstrous scenes keep going through my head. I can’t seem to stop them. Please, Beatrice—“ “NO!” I shouted, hearing my voice loud and hoarse between us like a stranger. “Find your own way out!” He let go of the chair then and began to feel his way across the room towards me. I let him find me, let him grasp me by my arms, pulling me to him, kissing me so fiercely that I could hardly breathe. He was stronger than he looked, and wild now too. He pushed me down onto the carpet and then kneeled over me, groping, pulling at my clothes like a madman. A tram was rattling past, the clock began to roll into the half hour. A giant moth flew out of the curtains and spread itself along the ceiling like a shadow. When this was over, I’d have to go and fetch the broom. I looked up into his face as he heaved and pushed above me. It was loose and careless, nothing like itself. And yet it was 46
14.1. Michele, my bell, Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday day, Wednesday day.
1. This is the dawning of the age of malaria.
14.2. Michele, ma bell, some say monkeys play piano well, piano well.
30. Making spareribs right.
44. Tin soldiers and Nixon’s drumming.
45. Oh come let us ignore Him.
32. Jumpin’ Jack Flash gives you gas gas gas.
46. Where trouble smells like lemon drops.
15. My boyfriend’s black and he’s got a huge erection.
33. Well I took a little downer ’bout an hour ago.
47. And when he died, all he left us was a loan.
16. Stop! In the name of the law, before you take my lawn. Use my mower.
34. Let’s get biblical, biblical.
47.1. And when he died, all that he left us was a comb.
2. Another one fights the dust. 3. Eyeing little girls with padded pants. 4. Teenage spacemen. We’re all spacemen.
35. Oh no, I’m suckin’ an ol’ eye again.
48. Take a ride on the beef steak.
17. The Pope don’t work cause the vandals took the candles.
35.1. Oh Lord, I’m stuck in low gear again
49. Its your favorite porno movie.
18. ’Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.
35.2. Oh lord, I’m sucking on an old diaphragm.
50. The Pinball Wizard has suction cups for wrists.
18.1. Excuse me while I zip my fly.
36. Don’t you know we’re writing American Express.
51. One nation underdog.
19. Rice, rice gravy.
37. My goat knows the bowling score.
51.1. One Asian in the garage.
20. Been circumcised, can’t explain.
38. Midnight after you’re wasted.
51.2. And to the republic for Richard Stands.
21. I call for pizzas — you won’t buy, so I call for pizzas.
39. Organic woman, organic woman to me.
51.3. And to the republic for witches stand.
22. Then I saw her face now I’m a bleeder.
39.1. Four legged woman, four legged woman to be.
51.4. One nation under guard invisible.
23. Climb every woman.
39.2. Banana woman, banana woman to me.
51.5. I led the pigeons to the flag.
24. It’s a family of bears.
39.3. Bald-headed woman, bald-headed woman to me.
51.6. With liver tea and just us four, all.
25. Paul Lynde, yes I am Paul Lynde, but she keeps callin’ me Flannigan.
40. Take me on a trip upon your magic bowling chimp.
52. Bowling on a liver.
11. She’s giving me head citations.
41. My country, tizzle tea. 12. Chimps and Chimpanzees.
26. I want a piece of danish.
53. Are you gathering up the cheese? Have you had enough of mine?
13. I’ve got an eye on Kendra. I’d love to take her for a ride. Mama don’t take my motorhome away.
27. Janie slugged a bum.
5. A gay pair of guys put up a parking lot. 5.1. It tastes very nice, food of the parking lot. 6. One thing I can tell you is you got to eat cheese. 7. She was a gay stripper. 8. Fly like a Negro to the sea. 9. Hey you, get off of my cow. 10. Oh, we are sailing, yes, give Jesus pants. 10.1. All we are saying, give hippies a chance. 10.2. All we are saying is GOOD PIECE OF CHEESE ! 10.3. All we are saying is kids need a Dad.
42. Love bombs bursting in air. 53.1. Are you really into yeast?
27. 1. Janie’s got some gum.
42.1. What so proudly we hailed, as the twilight glass cleaner.
54. You don’t have to live like an amputee.
28. Girl I’m just a hamster for your love.
42.2. And crown thy good like Robin Hood.
55. But if you go carryin’ pictures of Jim and Al.
29. Cheese and rice superstar.
43. He’s a real tailhole man. Living in his tailhole land.
55.1. But if you go carrying pictures of German mouths.
13.1. Mama don’t take my cordless phone away. 14. Michele, my bell, Sunday monkeys say the end is done, the end is done.
56. I wanna wash myself all night personal hygiene’s okay.
64. The only boy that could ever reach me was the son of a creature man.
A LONE RANGER CHRISTMAS
57. I’m a Rocket man, running out of shoes. Oh, well, so long.
65. Dr. Spouffman, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.
57.1. I’m a Rocket Man, burning down bridges of Avalon.
66. It’s just a sprinkling for the bakery.
57.2. I’m a Rocket Man, burning on the edge of Perry’s home.
66.1. There’s a wino down the road.
My personal space is being renovated And Christmas is coming. That beige suede couch had to go And it will be a week before Miss Alexa Hampton Papageorgiou Stepdaughter to Count Mario Loreta Frusci di Bertinoro (that horrible man) and Nathalie Farman-Farma Will along with other Young Friends to Save Venice Arrive with my 18th Century Venetian Toiletry case so how will everything be Ready for the Mr. Jimmie Stewarts who Every Christmas bringing along Mr. Danny Kaye Who is a bore but is after all Mr. Danny Kaye? They expect tea and my conversation (I never mention “It’s A Wonderful Life”) On Christmas Eve and how will I then In all good conscience the Mr. Jimmie Stewarts And Mr. Danny Kaye being as it were homeless On the eve of the birth of the Christ Child Proceed as is my wont to Harlem Where a bevy of jazz combos Of the good old sort play Alluringly shining in the candlelit mirrors As I sip brandy and recover All lostnessesess.
66.2. But if you listen very hard, the Jew will bother you a lot.
57.3. I’m a Rocket Man, burning up a priest on pheromones.
67. Stomp me, I'll do what I please! 57.4. I’m a Rocket Man, burning up like Jesus' hairy bone.
68. Taking care of bee’s nests.
58. Parsley’s age grows merry in time.
68.1. Bakin’ carrot biscuits!
58.1. Partly saved, Rosemary and Tom.
69. The judge in the town’s got love stains on his pants.
58.2. Are you going to Scarlet O’Hare?
70. Take a load off Fanny.
58.3. Are you going to Harvard or Yale?
71. Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
58.4. Parsnips say rosemary is blind.
72. Up Up and Away in my Buick Ford balloon.
59. Sleep in heavenly peas. Sleep in heavenly peas.
73. Come on, crippled creep.
60. Sittin’ on the dock in Bombay.
74. They won’t get food again.
61. Slow, cousin Walter.
75. What’s love but a second hand in motion?
61.1. Smoke marijuana. A fire in the sky.
76. When a man loves a walnut.
61.2. Slow running horses. A fire in the sky.
77. I’m gonna send you every inch of my gloves.
61.3. Slow motion Walter. The fire engine guy.
78. I’ll eat rats around your femur.
62. Something in the way she boos attracts me to her mother’s lover.
79. You can’t always get a Chihuahua.
In uniform with a job to do leaving merrily The St. Regis a very nice hotel bar of “The Shining” Sort and at least I ain’t at the Bongo yet Like my friend John sitting there all his One dollar bills on the bar showing he has A right to stay. No, I ain’t doing so well But at least I have a job and going down 2nd Ave. Past the coalyard Christ does any other town Still have a coal yard past the Polack kids Sitting on their Flexible Flyers smoking Pall Malls Past Giancola’s Barbers where for thirty years He has had up a 1963 calendar showing a kid Getting run over by someone very like Hugh Beumont who is horrified that his 59 Buick hit this kid and he is drunk Don’t Drive Drunk past Trionfetti’s bar same neon Martini Glass winking green in the window. I’ll bet my Grandmother wished she were still alive so She could walk by me wishing she could just Walk on by me never looking at me at all Her loser Grandson so I stop in Trionfetti’s For a little drink. 41 and back in town. I’ll be late for work. This must be the Very last J.C. Pennys and here I am my Man Just give me the motherfuckng bell.
There is a certain slant of snow I can see from my analysts office That promises that someone very like Theda Bara will soon come into my life. But stepping as it were BACK into Cinderella’s coach, past midnight and 5 o’clock in the afternoon in Warrensville I find fuck it I am as it were (I wish) back in Warrensville. Flush then out into the PA slush a man
80. And a partri ginapear tree. 63. Sometimes when we touch, the artist sees to much.
TAMI HAALAND REASONS TO FLY
TOMÁS HARRIS MAR DEL SOL NACIENTE
Translated from the Spanish by Daniel Shapiro
SEA OF THE RISING SUN
a Diego y Simón
The out-of-work painter sketches the ghetto emptied of its inhabitants, The painting is filled with objects, The absence of the living is only temporary
If Icarus were 40 he could balance his course between sea and sun.
to Diego and Simón
Los ojos, como los
Eyes, like suns, begin acquiring their glow, their complete form as time recedes from their birth; first, two dull grapes, opaque, glowing brighter and brighter from their borders as if lit from within; then the clarity that no doubt is now a gaze. The edge of dawn on the high seas stops its explanations. Afterwards, the useless attempts so an opium cloud like Baudelaire's won’t darken them prematurely, tiny infants, implanting themselves in the brain once and for all.
But little teacup does make it through!
And the silence and dust are so dear to us.
Saavedra: que, a pesar mío, sin saber lo que era,
You see the bowl of flicker feathers, the glorious underside of a cardinal,
van adquiriendo su brillo, su configuración definitiva a medida que el tiempo se aleja
and hints at the most delicious mysteries. and once you get over your fear of heights, what could stop you?
The "somewhat overstocked zoos" of pre WWII Europe.
de su nacimiento; primero, dos uvas grises, opacas,
You’ll understand things that traverse the sky, the meandering gnat, the hawk’s claws.
Zeppelins are required. Liftships leave every day. We all took pretty ponies up the golden stairs to the sun.
que se van abrillantando poco a poco desde sus extremos, como si las alumbraran desde dentro;
Why not practice now, before spirit floats over body, observing its static serenity?
después, la claridad que, no cabe duda, ya es mirada. El filo del amanecer en altamar
Extraordinary visions all last night Along the lake of Silvaplana, not too far from a certain powerful pyramidal rock near Suler I was given the envelope.
You could see past sadness, know the tangible interior of clouds.
termina de explicarlo todo. Después, los esfuerzos inútiles, pero constantes
Consider the cold fire of stars at your back, the ground’s contours and currents below.
para que una nube de opio como la de Baudelaire no los opaque prematuros, neonatos, pegándoseles en el cerebro
Into the teacup, quickly, my friends! It’s what every restless ounce of you has always wanted, the busy air.
The cup (as the mirror shows) is indeed the cracked yellow one Otto Frank is now holding in his trembling hands as the Nazis march down the little street.
de una vez para
Saavedra: in spite of myself, without knowing what it was, I saw a withered face full of water. The shore offered itself to my eyes. — Cervantes
me vi el marchito rostro de agua lleno. Ofrecióse a mis ojos la ribera. — Cervantes
Later the teacup is filled with the eyelashes of owls.
El polvo de vientos barrió las calles,
A wind comes and we waft through the night.
ahí, donde estaba tu cuerpo en la ciudad,
Wind-dust swept through the streets, there where your body laid a city though it was sculpted by rain on hotel façades,
aunque tallada a lluvia en las fachadas de los hoteles,
... se llevó tus especias, tu pelo, tu bálsamo,
KEVIN HIGGINS carried your spices, your hair, your balm, your breasts already moving at full speed from mud, from the very limit, from putrefaction, finally, Death;
tus pechos que ya iban en pleno tránsito del barro, del más no poder, la pobredumbre, la muerte, al fin; fue injusto ya que tú no sabías nada del Universo,
it was unfair since you knew nothing about the Universe, shit, rock ‘n roll, dreams: They swept you right to the border like papers or condoms or cigarette butts, drool, ashes, semen, everything the wind desires, feeds on and swells;
la mierda, el rock, los sueños: te barrieron no más al margen como papeles o preservativos o colillas de cigarros, baba, cenizas, semen, todo eso que el viento quiere, se nutre, se hincha;
now the city streets remained so empty, so much without you, so much without awe, that I told myself we all told ourselves, so many miles desires ardor pain dreams for this absence?
ya las calles de la ciudad quedaron tan vacías, tan sin ti, tan sin maravilla, que me dije, nos dijimos todos, para esta ausencia tantas millas ganas ardor dolor sueño?
OTHER PEOPLE'S RUBBISH
Now we’ve dispensed with the diplomacy and are left, only, with the megaphone, our voices sound suddenly like white noise and the room is full of other people’s rubbish. We should have taken this squabble by the scruff of the neck, let silence throttle it; got back to that place where “other people” end and we begin, before it was too late: to that very first evening, when, with Joni Mitchell and Wallace Stevens, and me opening that bottle of plonk, we filled this room with altogether sweeter sounds than these.
In the doorway of a cheap hotel we are a pair, hot and virginal, your tongue in my ear. “Get a room,” les cocottes heckle us. In our embrace, I pass out, crumple at your feet. A petit mal, you think, and plant your glove in my mouth. I gag, bite down and get up. We are still there when I rouse that memory from its sleep.
A State of Siege had been declared, the empty streets, the luminous signs were shining for Death; the bodies were the dance of Death along the boulevards packed with objects.
Se había declarado el Estado de Sitio, las calles vacías, los lumínicos brillaban para la muerte; los cuerpos eran la danza de la muerte por los bulevares atestados de objetos.
Fixed to the grisailles of winter, before you leave for Africa, shaped like a tongue on the map, we keep failing to check into that hotel
Now the world was peopled with animals, substitutes for your body.
Ahora el mundo se poblaba de animales sustitutos de su cuerpo.
and on and on until Pigalle no longer pertains to Chevalier or Piaf; the district rezoned. Eons blink off the screen,
All this was in Algiers, the saddest city of the Universe; no city could have been happy full of prisoners and whores: everywhere souls suffered their pain and, captives of
Todo esto era en Argel, la ciudad más triste del Universo; no puede haber ciudad feliz repleta de prisioneros y putas: por todas partes penaban las ánimas, y nosotros, cautivos del
we swim in cloudy specks, The Great African Rift thrusts upward where lovers once moaned through foothills of the Alps.
our desire to stay alive through our bodies, we pursued each other along the boulevards packed with objects, masks, shadow play, phantasmagorias, the war was ‘till death, hand-to-hand combat,
deseo de seguir vivos por nuestros cuerpos, nos perseguimos por los bulevares atestados de objetos, máscaras, sombras chinas, fantasmagorías, la Guerra era a muerte, cuerpo a cuerpo,
Continents drift. Paris swallowed by water, and then the sun lashing the world with tongues of flame.
unending as if everything were happening in a video game: desire exploded in our eyes, like sun.
inacabable como si todo transcurriera en un juego de video: el deseo nos estallaba contra los ojos, como sol.
PATRICIA SPEARS JONES
from MY MOVIE SUITE
TO SAMUEL BECKETT
You know the dead cannot smell soil or jasmine or whiskey spilled in graveyard libation The American Flag is many things to different people
Nothing is clear but night in league against lightning sand from now on which I chew and discover woman through my proton-armed eyelids. Nothing is clear but a red-ant night and its gridlock of fleas
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
WAITING FOR THE YEAR OF THE HORSE a full moon or the shape of its coming day after my birthday, horse gallops in the lunar year — no more dragons, are we happy will there be fire crackers, shouts in the streets, curses Oh demons be gone!
The dead are eyeless, speechless And yet, the dead are everywhere in living rooms, firehouses, barracks, kitchens The American Flag is a different thing to many people
are you the rider I expected or a messenger with bad news am I your sanctuary or a difficult harbor to navigate
And now the dead are lying at the side of roads lonely with tank tracks or splayed in hospices limbs and blood and medicine useless back home, bouquets bought quickly, left privately offer regret, remorse, remembrance The American Flag is Shroud
your hands are large enough to hold many things and to let them loose one by one rose petals coins my name in metal explode
Our blood pulses, dogwoods bloom cartoons play at 7 a.m. pretty girls get their pictures taken patient in their beauty The dead cannot taste victory or laugh about looters carting away ten gallon Oriental jars from the tyrant’s palace. The dead may be naked or dust — it does not matter the dead are dead. Yes, the American Flag is a different thing to many people a gift of grief keening The first thing seen when the cargo door opens.
Your History shut into the white which is killing me To sign the book opened to the black and gray stars There is really nothing clear but the sky growing breathless On your hair and your layers of mascara And I grovel in splinters and I transmute and I dispute Chanted by the gluttonous lightning and the torrents of silence Collected by the thistle-asteroids and the Pure Ink which creates my night with the ossuaries The Lachaises the Baudelaires and the stormy air With a Commune which laps the shore grovels and disputes
Its erased eyes coo and leech me Its head hanging from my liver old javelin Skimpy dirty fetid and truer but less sure To sour the flight of a gull sold off as an eel Alone pure needle-pierced dense but force-fed Holding a bag of lovely terrors Throwing away everything which is soul sob child world all of Man But very proliferate very like a peat-bog Since it was cheated by my skills night unfolds on dawn’s eye smoked then fastened down Since there’s nothing clear but the suicidal night and the black glass brain born of my respect Its erased eyes coo and leech me
World Is it World your pesticide norm War With no guitars no real hate but silent like A ladder made out of Ramses’ green teeth Whose sob-sand scents black-ochre-gold-blue-on-white The fetish mummy-wrappings which massacre the Tribe Your portrait hoisted on backs scourged with shame Reaper Burier smudging over the wounds Of this world from which I draw my brown-skinned bitterness Until my lungs burst where God’s eye breathes Swimming in the peoples’ pus and petrifying Legible eyes which cover my eyes with a red film World Is it World the song which goes workilling With its words and its daggers with Its statistics and its black-market hearts And the Cadaver sold and resold by the priests World Is it World your pesticide norm War
Roar shout dance denounce kill what is merely clear In the newspaper spread out over my faith Strips streaked with lives stirring in the retina Trees mutilated by the grease of numbers By all the mirrors of memory they are dark dark On the forgetful stone and the sea which lifts it Up to those eyes which coo and leech Kill shout dance denounce cross out what is merely clear And I grovel in splinters and I transmute and I dispute And like a millipede I eat the images sawed from sound Myself fortunately in the dampest wrinkles And I take off on a laugh a burst of shadows and customs swift To split in two if not glum at least enraged The machine gun between my eye and my exile And I grovel in splinters on your bodies of water desperate For the great book to open and for Earth to erase itself For the Terror Spikes of Thought erect against and across
Nothing is clear but night in league against lightning sand from now on which I chew and discover woman through my proton-armed eyelids. Nothing is clear but a red-ant night and its gridlock of fleas
LETTER TO ALLEN FROM NORTH AMERICA'S SKULL, JULY 2001
Allen, I’m sitting in straight-backed chair Vivian's Canadian forestry cabin Nose Mountain, Alberta meditating each morning, sitting up, eyes open, following breath thru nostrils more than I did while you walked this planet, like you taught me Naropa, Boulder, summer 1980, though with bad back I need help from this sympathetic chair. Allen, I think you’d be happy your younger students & friends still care to follow yr advice, still write poems imagining your editing eyes on their shoulders — It’s beautiful here, with eyes open out cabin window I can see the tallest evergreen on lawn sway in northern breeze, can see fog slowly filling horizon, fog inhaling my exhale, fog carrying my spirit in its hazy pouch traversing the continent. Did you ever think we’d elect a president dumb as GW? Each evening The NY Times has to make key editorial decision whether to quote GW’s daily linguistic fuckups or paraphrase instead, perhaps use partial quote ending right before tongue slip, about once a week including on front page a line like: “Teach a child to read and he or her will pass a literary test.” Did you think thoroughly discredited programs from your lifetime, Star Wars and nuclear power, would spring back to the front burner — our language still taxed by war. Up here in mountain forests, there are no newspapers, though we’ve access to 2 TV channels & a too-slow world wide laptop computer web. I know Milosevic was sent to Hague’s war crimes tribunal few days ago but haven’t been able to follow his nation’s reaction. I know there were protests in San Diego against genetically modified food but wasn’t able to learn details — I wish you were here to see this new anti-corporate globalization movement growing!
Up here I don;t know who’s winning at Wimbledon, don’t know whether Barry Bonds continues to hone in on McGwire’s 70 home runs, don’t know who won the Mets game last night or night before. Allen, I think you would have liked Vivian. Actually, let me introduce you — here she is, a meditator, visual arts exhibitor, now writing poems & experimental novels publishers promise to read, long hair, bluegreen eyes, laid back Canadian energy most of the time, a sharp empathetic mind of a once biologist and still herbalist and human rights ecological advocate, beautiful lover, here taking care of me outside my urban living proclivities during 8-summers stint as Alberta firetower watcher. So, I’m doing alright — better than most in our nation, probably 7 million these days without permanent home, 2 million locked away in nation's fastest growing industry — prisons, many for minor pot crimes, or drugs you always viewed as spiritual/medical, not criminal, questions, several hundred thousand families about to be kicked off welfare January 2002 — Clinton’s promise to end welfare as he knew it — nobody on TV talking about this historic safety net rip. While I’m up here for two weeks breathing clean mountain air they may be spraying pesticides through NYC streets third summer in a row! Battling the flu-like symptoms of West Nile virus, they’ve created a cure worse than the disease! If you were walking yr Lower East Side haunts after midnight, you might have to duck quick into alleyways to avoid splashed untrained spray trucks! Allen, we still need you, your ideas, your imagination, your poetry, your presence, we’re trying to honor your memory, trying to keep your compassionate activist utopian spirit alive.
When Bush ran for president, he said he was a “compassionate conservative,” misusing one of your favorite Bodhi-politic adjectives — governing, he’s pulled out Kyoto protocols on global warming, cut taxes on wealthy so no money to fix broken social programs, reneged on campaign promise to limit CO2 emissions, dropped a few obligatory bombs on Saddam, racing full speed to prove conservative credentials while we wait to see what the hell he thinks compassion might mean — if I figure it out, I’ll let you know. Allen, I miss our once-every-few-months political discussions at the all-night Kiev. Gregory died earlier this year, left another big void in New York’s poetry scene. If you get a chance, please write, tell me which part of the Multiversal Emptiness you’re hanging out these days. Actually, if you can hear me now, you know I don’t believe in any notion of conscious life after death, don’t buy any of the existing scripts for Heaven, Hell, or the Ground Round, and yet, I write to you, as one writes to the future — and I remain, your student and friend, E. Katz. Nose Mountain, Alberta, Canada
truly for it
lord help me to see people
now we see how terrible so I don’t bomb them and cut their heads off
hostage for it no one will make this the last time
lord help me to see people so I don’t take hostages and drag them on the floor
my heart has broken from this already my heart of abuse already
lord help me not drag people on floors my heart has broken for it already lord help me not cut off heads and drag on floors and take hostages
my heart breaks from abuse my heart is the breaker
lord help me not cut off peoples heads on TV and drag them into piles and gloat over them
my heart has broken from breaking already lord help me not kill people and gloat over them it is to break from breaking lord help me not take hostages and drag them on floors my heart is the breaker for it now lord help me not drag people on floors I have already been for it now help me not drag them on floors flash it again hostage flash me no one has ever learned anything
POEM no one will make this the last time
hostage of love let us still call it love
there has been abuse again
hostage for change it
and the abuser has not learned
hostage for it all
here is the abuser again
it’s a hostage for me
my heart has broken from these pictures before
... I want you to be devoted to me freely I want you to be free and devoted
here is the abuser again the abuser can not stop its abuse
I don’t want anything I just met you the abuser can not see its abuse please let me say please be devoted and free be free and devoted be devoted to my hands that hold you up to do your work be devoted to my hands be my lover if you can be the only lover I could ever have
here is the abuser again how many times can my heart break? my heart has broken from abuse already
for her to live in the world — if you really see her if you really care for her you will think about what it feels like for her to live in the world — do you love her? it means you want her to be happy in the world love is nothing else it means you want her to be happy in the world and if that is going to have anything to do with you you have to tell her everything — if her happiness in the world is going to have anything to do with you you have to tell her everything there is nothing until you do you have no idea until you do until you tell her everything you have no idea
I love you as much as you love me? will you ever stop fucking and grab my eyes crying? will you ever stop me in the middle of fucking and grab me by the sides of my face and crying make sure I love you as much? will you ever make sure and cry? will you ever grab me fucking and make sure and cry? will you ever need to know that I love you as much? will you ever grab me fucking and crying and make sure I love you as much?
if you can be the only lover I could ever have then maybe you should be the only lover I can ever have
can my heart break a million times?
can my heart break ten times? I would like to hold you up once to do your work devoted to me
what happens if my heart breaks a million times? what happens if my heart breaks ten times?
could you be devoted to me once while I was up holding you to do your work?
what happens if my heart breaks from abuse? could you be devoted to me once to do your work? what happens if my heart breaks from abuse twice? could you be devoted to me once holding you up to do your work? will you say “I am so in love with you I’m going to burst”
POEM your eyes are shining as they say
could you be devoted to me once holding you up to do your work? will you say “I am so in love with you I’m going to burst”
I would like to hold you as you woke up the world
are we fucking? beautiful and you are telling me you love me so much you are going to burst?
I would like you to be devoted to me once as I held you up to wake up the world
are you crying? are we breaking up and you are telling me you love me so much no matter what but you know we have to go?
no I don’t want anything do you know we have to go? I want to hold you up as you devote the world I want you to be devoted to me devoted to my hands
which is your body? will I ever not be sure which is your body? will you quiver and cry needing to know
you think you have an idea of what would fulfill you — you have no idea because you are not honest — once you tell her everything you will begin to be fulfilled — until you gush it all out and lay it all down you have no idea — until you tell her everything you have no idea — you have never seen her until you tell her — do you care about her? she feels in the world she does not fit into your life she feels in the world have you ever thought about what it feels like for her to live in the world? it has nothing to do with you — have you ever listened to her? it has nothing to do with you — do you care about her? if you care about her you will think about what it feels like
POEM (there could be) such tenderness in each human being for every other… and it is no Devil that holds us back and it is no Bush — believe me it is no Bush — you… only care for you and I… only care for me and it is no Bush that keeps us from each other — we each want to see ourselves win and everything is forgotten that doesn’t fit in
My father is a gambler, always searching for a get-rich-quick scheme, this explains the uranium mines in Canada and Josephine, the race horse that never won a race. My father’s passion for sports is so great, he sits on his bed with a look of pure rapture on his face, watching one game on TV, listening to another on the radio, the newspaper, opened to the sports page, propped on his knees, and I see him as a boy, maybe ten, with big eyes and even bigger ears, unwrapping with intense concentration, a large, shiny package that holds his future inside.
My father is open hearted, wants people to like him, is eager to please. He struggles to accept the fact his daughter is a pornographer yet will talk about his prostrate with strangers in the supermarket, who seem to think it’s charming, while I, standing beside him, am turning green. Now my mother is dead, he reads mysteries, plays the stock market, gambles on the computer, he regrets he didn’t treat us better, is trying to make amends to my brother and me. Mostly, I forgive him his absences, his indiscretions, I send him diabetic chocolates in the mail, but I hate how he keeps talking about his health, I want to say – get a life, but that is his life, the sixteen different pills he swallows in the morning, the daily blood tests he gives himself for sugar, the three doctors visits a week. When he goes out, he wears a baseball cap to cover the bald spot on his head, he flourishes his cane before him like a conductor, conducting a symphony, it never touches the ground, he should use a walker, he is too proud.
BUBBLES OF LOVE
STRUNG OUT ON PHONICS
1990. Juan Luis Guerra puts out his most famous song and it goes like this:
-ite, right? (for A. and A.) Despite the hero sandwiches dangled in his face by his co-workers, Yosemite Sam sticks to his diet and snacks on the crudite in the Tupperware dish he packed for his lunchtime respite from his part-time park ranger gig.
Quisiera ser un pez Para tocar mi nariz en tu pecera Y hacer burbujas de amor Por dondequiera O-o-o-o-o Pasar la noche en vela Mojado en ti U-u-u-u-un pez
she doesn’t care, she just wants to say culo Concerned with my failing publishing career, Ma wonders When are you going to write another artiCULO? Dazzled by the Saturday-night extravaganza on her favorite channel, Ma beckons Come see this espectaCULO! Joining me for a wistful stroll on the boardwalk to watch the last summer sunset, Ma sighs How lovely the crepusCULO.
A girl, deep in the recesses of Brooklyn, hears this: Shortly after my mother died, I made my father meatloaf, before that he didn’t know I could cook. Now whenever I go down to Maryland to visit, he wants me to make him meatloaf. A vegetarian for twenty years, I find myself standing in my Mother’s kitchen, stirring the smelly red meat with a long wooden spoon, adding eggs, parsley, chopped onion, I think about how life makes me look at what I don’t want to see, then I want to change it, add some sugar, a pinch of purifying salt.
At night, in sleep, memories, like sooty vapors, float inside his mind, You won’t believe the dream I had, I was kissing your mother in the Botanical Gardens. It was cherry blossom time, you won’t believe it, my father says, but I do believe it because I know you can never escape what you do not resolve, just as I know you can’t fight the tide and all water rushes down to the sea.
I’d like to be a fish So that I could touch my nose to your fish tank And make bubbles of love Everywhe-ere O-o-o-o-o To spend the night Idon’tknowwhatthisphrasemeans wet inside you A-a-a-a-a fish
AT CAESAR’S GATE
JAPANESE TREE LILAC
WEDNESDAY MORNING, WITH DELUGE
They start their way down the hill or other way at any rate the long claw hang of it is real estate and out of storybook as if moving in from distance and above opening on a city and a decade. Its particular puzzle is the way it hangs pretty regal unmoving but as if unseen as we just got here and they’re all away while many over the mound piled or trickled into the bluff, but all that died. All of that died our long lost time ago. It will never survive the newspapers or divorce or other decades, another cultural force. Yet why have I thought to come back to it?
They took what they could and put it into the ark. It shone in the sun, and turned like a roast on a spit while the others were gathering the necessary tools to burn it leaving a scent of sawdust in the air and turning on the ocean to the four winds, past the pacific rim. The circle of man turns under the circle of trees. Deciduous needles tuck in the circle of man. The circular tuna fish sandwich and the strawberry blizzard or neon cheese on a church lawn hot dog fills the forest. Rocks like news papers climb. The loading bay is out of luck and lunch, evening attire its only friend. Breeze yawns circle a scullery seagull. Buddha pounds his map in clay. It’s all sawed up in squares and a small eye glass swings by his knee. Who dares to take the year out of its century?
Blossoms the color of cappuccino sweep off the tree in the wind’s tides. I am not so far gone as to say everything is right with the world, but the daylilies tripped a circuit and everywhere there is orange — the most common
Think of all the earth’s metropolises; how, underneath, brakes clasp the tunnels’ track with squeals and trumpets like a humpback call; how all day grates spray out the fetid breeze of pug-nosed subway cars migrating back and forth; the taskless plod on to their tasks like sleepy manatees, men lumber off from Mrs. — this impenetrable grid of goodbye kisses.
This century, an iron bell of joy, has scarcely rung its first harsh notes of morning. Scarcely rung upon its ears the strident ecstasie in God. This is the way we started. In cafes or catacombs in single file with messages from mountain and the stiff proclamation to the sun. The world is pregnant now with talk of it. The shape it gave, the shape we run with it. Its constant footstep in the crowd of it. Pin prickles as of statues or cement. The bright lit herald of the later breeze learning its shadows. Fluttering through it someone something. The Berkeley gods will be in Sherwood Forest by the tides, all that’s been going on for quite some time.
field and hillside orange, and all the commerce backyard sparrows can muster with their rooftop squabbles and their babies behind my fascia. When they fledge, I’ll stuff the cracks with steel wool.
Think of all your tics and sad traditions, the way you read the paper, then shake your head. A flood can come, salmon orbiting your bed, a choir gurgling hosannas down at the mission. The world is underwater if you wish it.
I could be more cruel, a word politicians confuse with “character,” but when the tent caterpillars arrive later this summer, I’ll want all the sparrows the yard will bear. A few late blossoms straggle into bloom, a few overladen bees stop to stretch the envelope of their airworthiness as they gather still more pollen, then stagger back to fan their heat-stressed queen.
February’s iron Has lost its starch And now becomes The mud of March Puddles mire Shoe and tire But do not speck What they reflect The sky looms higher
Translated from the Spanish by Annegret Nill
con migajas y raspas de pescados.
with crumbs and fish bones. Glasses with dried purple crust. The cat sleeps curled up in the empty fruit bowl. The old car parked outside has not started in months or years. Immobile it rests on its axles, on piles of pebbles and bricks. They have stolen the tires, the headlights, and every day they strip it of more parts, like a large dead insect being devoured by invisible ants. The garden is vigorous and luxuriant, overgrown with weeds that smother the flowers. The slithering garden hose is invisible. The canary has fled its cage, and the goldfish is floating belly up in the muddy water of its tank. The dog has chewed through the leash and has left in pursuit of a bitch. The milkman no longer delivers milk to the house nor is the paper boy bringing the paper. The letter carrier brings only unpaid bills. Envelopes with windows which no one opens. The creditors knock for a long time, but no one opens, no one responds. The garbage is picked up twice a week, but too early in the morning. In the yard the garbage cans are flowing over, and stink. The TV has no sound and throws moving shadows on the floor, powdered with plaster dust raining from the ceiling. A child in a wooden playpen, surrounded by toys, cries at the top of his voice, hungry and wet, his moist mouth open, his eyes glassy with tears watching how the double-backed beast growls and writhes convulsively, attempting to devour itself.
Vasos con secas borras moradas. Las sábanas regaladas para la boda
The sheets that had been wedding presents are torn and threadbare now. The dishes were smashed in domestic skirmishes. The cups are cracked, they have lost their handles. The forks are lost and stained the stainless knives. The pitcher is broken. And the diamond ring is in the pawnshop. On the calendar all the days have been crossed off. The clock has wound down. The tea has run out, the coffee, the bread, the butter. All that’s left is a few drops of oil. Empty eggshells. In the refrigerator there is only half of a dehydrated onion and a baby bottle with sour milk. A mouse hiding in its hole gnaws on what’s left of a sugar cube. The furnace went out last night after using up its fuel. The telephone has been cut off, and soon they’ll cut the light. Three or four light bulbs are still working in the house. The candles have burned down to stumps. The toilet paper has run out and the toilet is clogged with pieces of newsprint. The soap will vanish next time someone washes his hands. The comb has lost another tooth. The splinter in the mirror is yet another wrinkle. There is no clean laundry left. The bathtub is full of dirty diapers. The shirt has lost its last remaining button. On top of the table, small fingerprints, bibs, dirty dishes
se gastaron y tienen agujeros. Se quebraron los platos en escaramuzas domésticas. Las tazas están saltadas y sin asas. Se perdieron tenedores y oxidaron los cuchillos del servicio inoxidable. La juguera está descompuesta. Y empeñada la sortija de diamantes. En el tablero del calendario están todos los días tarjados. Al reloj se le acabó la cuerda. Se acabaron el té, el café, el pan, la mantequilla. Quedan sólo unas gotas de aceite. Vacíos cascarones, de los huevos. En el refrigerador hay solamente una mitad de cebolla estreñida y una mamadera con leche agria. Una laucha oculta en su cueva roe los restos de un terrón de azúcar. La estufa se apagó anoche después de consumir su combustible. Cortaron el teléfono y pronto cortarán la luz. Quedan tres o cuatro ampolletas indemnes en toda la casa. Las velas se convirtieron en cabos. Se terminó el papel higiénico y el excusado está tapado con pedazos de papel de diario. Se desvanecerá el jabón en la próxima lavada de manos. La peineta perdió otro diente. La trizadura del espejo es otra arruga. No queda ropa limpia. Hay pañales sucios en la tina. Se le cayó el último botón que le quedaba a la camisa. En la superficie de la mesa, impresiones de pequeñas manos, baberos, platos sucios 68
En la frutera vacía, dormita ovillado el gato. El auto viejo estacionado afuera no arranca desde hace meses o años. Inmóvil descansa con sus ejes, sobre pilas de piedras y ladrillos. Le robaron los neumáticos, los focos y cada día lo despojan de nuevas piezas como un gran insecto muerto que devoran invisibles hormigas. El jardín está exuberante, lozano. Invadido de malezas que asfixian las plantas. La manguera serpeante es invisible. Se escapó de su jaula el canario. Y el pez de color se ahogó y quedó flotando panza arriba en el agua turbia de su redoma. El perro royó su soga y se marchó a la siga de una perra. El lechero ya no trae leche a la casa, ni el suplementero reparte periódicos. El cartero trae sólo cuentas impagas. Sobres con ventanas que nadie abre. Los acreedores golpean largamente, pero nadie abre, nadie responde. El basurero pasa dos veces por semana, pero lo hace demasiado temprano. En el patio los tarros desbordantes hieden. El televisor encendido sin sonido arroja movedizas sombras sobre el suelo entalcado por el yeso que llueve del cielorraso. Un niño en un corral de palo, entre juguetes rotos se desgañita llorando, hambriento y mojado, la húmeda boca abierta, los ojos vidriosos de lágrimas, mirando cómo la bestia de las dos espaldas gruñendo convulsa se revuelca intentando devorarse a sí misma. 69
[rocket or racket]
[bat up] love and no empty labor, churn a squat universe continuous six or so thousand miles close in but still that far â€” the doorstep velocity raking if only would disrobe
two Dutch children jump and make noise an airplane not knowing about Disposable People & who would I be to wish them mannered solemnity
one chick holding always has in fact holiday without palms the broadcast is greedy and grey in erudition I almost lost how to link Keston chain stores want my pants & I refuse to deal installed dinner napkins form a satchel scoop the media up I give to you LA: or somewhere near there are no women yet your book is more despite: from the French, interpellate: to lay down and to want
always comes early what you said about throwing wholly a body at a language numbers frighten or they lie, crimes of entertainment fully realized offensive indoor flowers scan me, sadly American & serial laden: trip
he wrote You Bet! and Something, Sheâ€™s Dead we write to drum in this decide: to rock it or to rack it
OPERATIONS CHIRURGICAE **
[index [insert female fairy tale]] Angelena glam and carefree I think I pass in specifics & in make-up in a Hollywood Mall + Internet access I want but don’t set the start at every terminal to antislavery.org how was I more bright of heart in Washington, DC, or is it a factor of age: to be less informed & to be named [often I am permitted to return to a rack & this one] likely as my color / not my sex
The history of cranial saws and related instruments — The Inca on whom the procedure had been performed survived a few weeks. What astonishes me is not the boldness of the operation, for ignorance Is often the mother of boldness The mummy of a male was excavated under a layer of permafrost: His favorite subject was prison reform, Canned sardines and tomatoes were delicacies to him; The initial thought was that these openings had been made in some skulls to transform them into drinking cups. I found a skull thus perforated, with a bronze arrow still sticking in it. Small perforations of the skull are sometimes made by a bayonet, dirk, etc., Without fracture Cranial holes allowed the demons causing convulsions in infants to escape. Some of the skull had been removed many years before this individual died; I pointed out that priestly ceremonies and grizzly initiations involving Surgery are well documented Coyote, javelina, mule deer, and cougars are his neighbors; He suffered a mental breakdown during the 1870s following his divorce — Autocratic and individualistic, he paid his ranch hands twelve cents a day and Meted out his own justice Those were the glory days when cattle was king. The ranchers retreated into defensive mode, They opposed encouraging more tourists to visit the area. * I am sustained by the prayers of the people; One of my duties is to weep or hug or whatever A blow to the skull can cause blood and other humors to stagnate in the head And form harmful dark pus, And then the head must be opened to set free that black spirit. I depend on the commanders to make the decisions — Damage done to the body is damage done to the soul.
Drilling holes in people’s heads always attracts attention The cult of the head appears to have been a common theme Heads of defeated soldiers are carried impaled on swords As most people are right handed, head wounds from face-to-face combat Tend to be more common on the left side If the individual survives the operation, he becomes the object of veneration, Though he’s certainly not leading any parades. Diagnoses were generally made from the color, taste, and smell of the urine The initial incising of the scalp would have been the most painful part The body was created by God and no one is allowed to interfere with it We will not stand by and see private property restricted by regulation! What would the skull of a man look like if he had been dragged behind a horse? The tooth of the boar symbolizes the power of the animal, The mandible indicates considerable dental loss, The biggest killer in any emergency situation is panic, It didn’t help that we were marching to war. No grocery, no café, no gasoline, not even a pay phone Make sure the cabins are ready for Mother and Dad, For the sake of peace and freedom
Now a teaspoon of thick, yellow matter is evacuated; Loose bone fragments are removed with bamboo forceps or coconut shell. Try, by rocking it back and forth, to lift the bone out; The root cause is in the skull, where trapped air and fluids are building up, That the evil air may breathe out The Spanish called the area “El Despoblado,” the unpopulated place — The military purpose of the fort is clearly stated: Forcing the Indians from the region and keeping them from it Not a house in sight; no fences, no windmills, no watering places, Not even a road and no livestock of the domestic order People have been found dead from dehydration with water in their canteens As far as we know this spot had been in waiting since the dawn of creation for development The phenomenon referred to is the regularly reported appearance of moving, unidentified lights, Sometimes only two lights are present, sometimes six. The mystery continues —
The tribe believed that an individual’s soul was located in the head The man begged me to bore a hole in his skull to allow escape of an evil spirit Personal relationships do not exist for him The operators were not afraid to destroy the dura matter Next cut away the whole of the bone — Toward the back of the head there is said to be less brain Thereupon the animal ceases to blink with its two eyes Commit no irregularities in the non-naturals, Either in drinking, and bad diet, or by frights, anger, venery, And other intense passions Observe that the ears of the patient must be well stopped with lint Another danger might emanate from strong emotions.
** Trepanation: History, Discovery, Theory, edited by Robert Arnott, Stanley Finger, and C. U. M. Smith, Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger: 2003; Adventures in the Big Bend: A Travel Guide, by Jim Glendinning, Marathon, TX: Iron Mountain Press, 2003; interview with George W. Bush, by Diane Sawyer; various public remarks of George W. Bush.
IN SERVICE OF SCIENCE
The oldest wooden churches have a sediment between the planks of floor and altar, under pews, a stive so fine it soaks into the grain, or flies away before the broom can touch it to the lip of pan. The dry mist wrestles in a beam of light, a shiver dance that shows the air is troubled in the stillest hour, the quietest room. The salts and silts from human hope and human sweat and human mourning, and bits of hair and flakes of skin wash up in corners, lodge in cracks, until a passing step or breath of weather stirs them up again, and pieces swirl away like words from long forgotten sermons, hymns once raised at hot revival’s end. A spider works its artistry beneath the pulpit catching flies. A mouse hunts through the must for crumbs beneath the service table, finds a feast of consecrated lint, a hornet like a bullet spent, as time goes coolly counting dust.
We cornered a white taxi and led it into back pages, an atlas’s disheveled windings. No mountains here,
I described the grasshopper, I described the bee, I depicted birds from their best angles, But how can I describe the gleam Of hairs on your head that lie untangled? Alas, I do not have that erstwhile power That, similar to death, mowed down ladies in full flower! I’m not what I once was. My madness is extinct, my fire spent. I cannot stomach former nourishment.
but a road sloping up into sifted materials of neighborhood. Humped and runneled roofs drop beards of balconies, and bicycle brakes leak by as a man sells malarial liquor, gold-lit under a vending truck’s aluminum awning. The November equator leans in. We could misplace distance this way, claim each other’s last resort, keep driving. At an intersection men deal cards near an empty guard-hut, and city constellations stretch like a reflecting pond to the horizon. We can’t know whether to breathe or sink.
But where are the ladies, you will ask, where are the dear girlfriends That shared with me my nightly fandango, Recalling tubs and decanters with their curves and bends, Where do they go? Some are no more. The others, far away. They all burned up like candles, I would say, And I burn with a different fire and a different mission: I’m on a mission to outperform my competition. I heed the call to great new achievements Proposed by congresses of forest grass each evening. There, beetles pass their time in interesting debate, A grasshopper cycles by — he’s worried — he’s late! — A tiny bug is baffled by a marigold And circles its corona. It runs and runs... I notice this agility and sadness takes hold, My heart sinks with an “Oh no!” I remember the days when in freshness I exceeded a horse (or was at least akin) And feel the gnawing of a secret vitamin. I tense my hands in silence, I stare at grass without any fun. Yet hark! — ‘Tis what? — The tympanum! And the unhurried sun Rises above the hierophant of science. 1932
Ducks do not pass in shape of dinner Through my dilapidated innards. I do not let love’s suffering take its course — I am attracted to the framework of the universe. Millet calls me to ponder, Toothpowders move me and inspire me to think, I magnify a butterfly with a magnifying glass — I find its structure very interesting. I am pursued through offices and boulevards By secret fantasies of turpentine, By dreams of matches, thoughts of bedbugs, Of sundry knickknacks, practical and handy, What are the hidden mechanisms of beetles, What is the force that acts inside a candy. I understood croissants And wherefore men submerge mushrooms in brine, The pregnant sense of horse-drawn sleighs and carts, Why windows are reflected in cows’ eyen, Though what’s the use of windows to a bovine? Love dissipates and passion lies. Yet there it is, beyond reproach, The marvelous structure of the cockroach. O energetic cockroachy legs, whose number equals six, They’re saying something, they’re scribbling on air, Their forms are full of secret meaning. Yes, in the cockroach, there’s something there, When its whiskers flutter and its paws make little kicks.
Translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky
DAEL ORLANDERSMITH NEW LANGUAGE BORN
GLUTTONY, A BALLAD
The first time I saw you I admired your face, The second time I saw you, You lay in my embrace.
Quickly the body Recovered its force. Again my deeds took The unnamable course.
I’m crying because Of decomposition: I’m twice as hungry In that condition.
Our one-hundredth meeting I turned distant and cold. Then unto you My heart I told:
Again some more chicken, Again some more love. What great harm to my body Was I capable of!
Who’ll supply me with food, All kinds of meat, Beautiful tea, Beautiful sweets?
“I cannot love you Without butter and bread. To salvage our passion Bake pie instead.
It was light outside When I quieted myself. Under the windows A drunk called for help.
I don’t want any love, Passion, avaunt! It’s lemonade And tomatoes I want.
Look how I wither From day unto day. Tatiana, Tatiana, Feed me, I say!
I lay in deep sleep For three nights and three days. My bones like the sea Creaked with malaise.
Nobody comes. The coffin board creaks And the heart of a poet Despairingly ticks.
Feed me and serve me Excellent food. Boil pelmeni, Ham also is good.
When I woke up, Soft was my moan. Then terror pierced Me down to the last bone.
This heart will soon Fall silent and wither And yellow water Spurt out thither.
When I’m on fire With potato and pea, I’ll love you gently, Beautifully, eagerly... Feed me!”
I’m grabbing my leg But the leg doesn’t run. I’m squeezing my heart But the heart doesn’t thump.
The world will keep turning Eternally fresh As a pink blind worm Feels its way through my flesh.
...And then I die. Tatiana stands up And goes to the kitchen. She comes back with a pickle, She comes back with chicken.
At a cemetery Buried I lie. Beneath a horseblanket I shake and I cry.
I want to take these words and go/ glow
The word Travels sometimes in glasses Soda/beer &n shot glasses/ travels on the pavement/ piss ridden pavement made wet by the boy/ girl w/the dope factory eyes They keep traveling Wicked word Back n forth Swagger n stances & hard like in between the sheets w/ you & what street did you say you lived on? & what did you say your name was?
I want to take some words and glow Gone/ glow/ gone I want to go go go go gone/ gone like Miles Davis sitting w/ Juliet Greco in Paris before the invasion of NOD more words/ looking to find words/ sharp spangly tooth tools/ the sound that oozes from the tooth tools/ looking for those words in a region like Texas Texus TexASS
Word Word- gone Words In between the search-WORD-MY word/ I feel the pangs of notes- word notes seep through the sheets/ sweaty like go/ go girl/ go /go boys.. go/ girls/ go boys……gone I want take some words to go please
‘It’s such a big place Texas/TexUS/TexASS & there must be big words/ language’ I bet you the fish poet from Lowell Massachusetts said/ who tried to get some words from the terrain & ended up dyin in his mother/ wife’s vampire arms...
I want take these words and go.. gone Could you wrap these words to go? I’d like an order of the words wrapped to go I’d like take these words wrapped to go
let’s go the drive-in & pick up some words & after let’s dance close by long distance I want to go home Steal away & go home Did you hear what I just said?
Glow I want an order of these rap/words to go/glow I want an order of these words to glow Gimme some rap/ words to go n glow
I said I want to take some words Find them/ steal them Take some words Take the words & make them mine & go
I’ll take these rap/ words n go/ glow Go gone
... I want to I want to TakeTake the the words/ make them mine& words/ make them mine & Go Go Take the wordsTake the words & go & go find my words/ find my words/ MY OWN WORD/ MY OWN WORD/ SOUND SOUND take my word/take my word/ sound/ sound/ shout into my word/ shout into my word/ sound sound
WHAT WOMEN WANT
LO QUE QUIEREN LAS MUJERES
Against the rosewood headboard, nicked by a child too restless to nap, she dozes over Death in Venice. He climbs the stairs after midnight when the lights are out.
They want to dance Why else endure a meaty palm in the small of the back, the sticky cheek-to-cheek?
Ellas quieren bailar
They may yearn for Astaire, but if the music’s hot, they’ll dance with men stiff as nutcrackers. Men who steer them in circles like the needle on a 45.
Puede que suspiren por Astaire,
And if there are no men, they’ll dance with each other, a back-packed baby, the refrigerator door. They’ll dance at noon in an open field. Alone in the mirror, brushing their hair.
Y si no hay hombres, ellas bailarán
When the band revs up, watch their eyes scan the floor. See them shift in their chairs, tap their lacquered nails while they talk to you of politics and rain.
Cuando la banda vuelva a tocar, observa
Now, liked carved cathedral effigies, they sleep beneath its vaulted ribs without touching. Sometimes in a dream she flings a fist over the bed’s unlived middle. Less often he, too, reaches out moments before the alarm pulls them back into parallel lives.
Translated from the English by Verónica Watt
In this bed, their first child kicked from the swell of her belly; here a second bled away in the night. Under its canopy he offered his only secret, and she forgave him.
I can shout into it because it’s now mine I can shout into & take it because it’s mine & go take it to go/ I can take it & go home
Sino entonces porqué tolerar una mano carnosa donde acaba la espalda, en el empalagoso cheek-to-cheek?
pero si la música arde, ellas bailarán con hombres tiesos como cascanueces. Hombres que las pasean en círculos como la aguja en un disco de 45.
unas con otras, con la puerta del refrigerador o cargando un bebé en la espalda. Bailarán a mediodía en un campo abierto. Solas ante el espejo, cepillando su cabello.
sus ojos escudriñar el suelo. Míralas moverse en sus sillas, tamborilear sus uñas pintadas mientras te hablan de política y la lluvia.
Translated from the English by Verónica Watt
REPOLLITOS DE BRUSELAS EN EL LIMBO
BRUSSELS SPROUTS IN LIMBO
MARÍA SOLEDAD QUIROGA
Canta la noche
The night sings sings because it sleeps alone and cold pulls its strings because buckets of rain fall because two love each other among lightning
canta porque duerme sola
After we die, my daughter’s friend says, if we’re not too good or too bad we go to limbo, where we must eat Brussels sprouts for seven years if that is what we refused on earth. Then we ascend to heaven (where there are no vegetables). I consider what I’ve refused: white bread, sugar, milk, meat and picture myself as a plump carnivore eating my way toward God. Beatitude means chewing death, savoring the taste of one’s enemy, Lima beans, or the messy beast of sex. I polish the spoons but do not sit at the table. Fear is a stern butler. I still worry which fork goes on the outside, which way the knife should be turned. For every pleasure there is an etiquette of terror. But today I will turn to my love over raspberry pots-de-crème and yank the tablecloth onto the floor, dishes, silverware settings flung wide in the bright percussion of desire.
La amiga de mi hija dice que después de la muerte,
y el frío pulsa sus cuerdas
si no fuimos ni muy buenos ni muy malos
porque llueve a cántaros
nos vamos al limbo, donde debemos comer
porque dos se aman entre los relámpagos
Translated from the Spanish by Rodrigo Rojas
repollitos de Bruselas por siete años solo si eso era lo que nos desagradaba en vida.
porque se vela a un muerto
Entonces ascendemos al cielo
y hay una pelea de perros en la esquina
(donde no hay verduras).
porque el teatro cerró sus puertas
Tomando en cuenta lo que he rechazado:
porque la noche se hizo para cantar
pan blanco, azúcar, leche, carne
porque mañana será otro día.
because there is a funeral wake and a dogfight in the corner because the theater closed its doors because night was made for singing because tomorrow will be another day.
I AM THREAD
pero no me siento a la mesa.
El miedo es como un mayordomo severo.
Todavía me preocupa cuál tenedor va primero,
soy la mitad del agua
De qué manera debe tomarse el cuchillo.
cuando las cosas respiran
Para cada placer
el inmóvil polvo de sus años.
existe una etiqueta de terror.
Déjame ser la curva del día
Pero hoy me dedicaré a mi amor
donde tus ojos dejan de mirar
por los postres de frambuesa a la créme
y recrean la fábula
voy a arrancar el mantel y lo botaré al suelo,
contra el metal nocturno.
con loza y cuchillería de plata lanzadas por los aires
Deja que el silencio nos encuentre
en la radiante percusión del deseo
I am thread low mist I am the water’s half when things breathe the static dust of its years. Let me be a curve of daylight where your eyes cannot see and retell a fable against the night’s metal. Let silence find us clashing stones lighting a pyre with the bolts of language.
me veo como una carnívora fofa masticando mi camino hacia Dios. Beatitud significa masticar la muerte, degustando el sabor de tu enemigo, porotos nuevos o la sangrienta bestia del sexo. Lustro cucharas
encendiendo una hoguera con el fulgor de las palabras.
CROSSING THE ANDES
... Colors of the Mountains
of briny sauerkraut, gourmet charcuterie, now horticulture has transformed your rubber petals to inedible
for Cecilia Vicuña tan
La Difunta Correa
She died & from her breasts her newborn babe sucked life.
Cristo viene Jesus está aqui
Christ among the ruins
Her sanctuary at the Inca’s lake still fills the flattened earth.
A Thought for Midnight
I want to see the southern cross by god!
mountains of fine swept sand & angry rocks
And here Cecilia offers rocks & roses where two condors bow to us guarding the sky.
frills — frou-frous that endure long after marigolds, zinnias, and asters blacken and turn soft with frost. Oxymoron of the florilegium, silk purse from the potager of autumn, I feel betrayed. Once you were basic to the winter table, boon companion to bowls of boiled white potatoes, unadorned except for salt and pepper, a glisten
of snowy butter. In those days you were glamorous only to Arcimboldo. Side dish
white body with a lion’s head astride the mountain’s side
A Natural Bridge above a raging stream. Cecilia running.
reminder of the Attic virtues praised by Cicero, by Horace, dulce et utile, your mute presence foiled
low wall of sand so sculpted you would think a city lay behind it — under siege — turns into streams of mud unformed
The young man wraps a heavy rock in orange next to a standing pool. —
— desert on the left poplars on the right (a river runs through it)
fringe and plush, said that a plain, big-boned girl could get along as you did: a little green,
Cabbage, I used to treasure your blunt candor. How brusquely you defied the crocheted antimacassars, the lace curtains
long-keeping, a good head on the garden’s shoulders.
in grandmother’s house where I grew up engulfed by aspidistras, cut-leaf begonias, passion plants. Element
SOUTH AFRICAN POETS
SOUTH AFRICAN POETRY AFTER APARTHEID Interview with Dennis Brutus was conducted by Lamont B. Steptoe at Dept. of Africana Studies at University of Pittsburgh on August 6, 2004 STEPTOE: What happened to writing in South Africa after the end of Apartheid? BRUTUS: There was so much of South African literature which was oppositional and it talked about the context of the society — Apartheid, racism, and oppression, of course. Although, my own reading is that; although, the emphasis was on the racist aspect, they were always underlying economic and political aspects, as well. But, then a very curious thing happened; the poets and writers who have been strong and courageous opponents of Apartheid, ceased, in the new phase, to write about the political situation and the reason is more curious. There was actually a kind of position paper, which was put out by a writer, quite talented writer, Albie Sachs,* was a lawyer and part of the resistance, saying that a writer should no longer write about apartheid and the past and their experiences. That seem to me a bad piece of advice and I criticized it at the time, but it had a remarkable effect — people stopped writing about their experiences .
STEPTOE: You mention that at the time this paper was issued, that Sachs also said that writers would find it more difficult to get published if they continued to write that way? BRUTUS: He may have not said that, but it certainly was the consequences of that. If you look back, you could not find a publisher, and of course this is curious because we got a lot of support, externally, from publishers, magazines in the Apartheid period. Now suddenly that money was drying up, so even if there was no direct threat, certainly the consequences were that people are not being published. You have a period of silence, but you also have a period lacking funding, and this is quite surprising because after-all under Apartheid, there was banning; there was suppression; there was jailing. You remove those barriers and you expect a vast efolerences — a great flowering of the writing, and it doesn’t come. Let me go quickly now into the third phase. This is the latest phase in which people are beginning to find their voices again or some new voices are appearing, which are critical of the present government for its failure to deliver. And this I think is an interesting phase; its mostly new young writers because those who were recognized as opponents of Apartheid have now become part of the establishment. I mention particular someone like Mongane Serote, who became for awhile Minister of Culture and still is in charge of many cultural affairs of the new post Apartheid government. But, there are these new voices some of them coming out of the townships; some of them composing political poetry and political songs critical of the new post Apartheid government and its failure to deliver. One of the poets is Mzwakhe Mbuli, who was in prison for very suspicious circumstances, when I saw him in Leeuwkope (Afrikaan’s word for Lion’s Head) prison; where I had myself been in prison. We have these phases; strong phase of protest and opposition; we have peculliar period of silence, or comparative silence and now you have these new voices critical of the new government. So lets leave it as that, I think. STEPTOE: There is an official government press or writers union in South Africa?
STEPTOE: What year did this paper come out? BRUTUS: Just at the same time when we had transition from the Apartheid government to the new government and the period of the elections and Mandela becoming President in 1992 and onwards. I was present at this conference, which was part of the discussion on the construction of new South Africa. Together with people like Sterling Plumpp and the man of course who made this proposal, which was circulated and in a sense he was a member of the Communist party, that had a lot of influence. The result was that the people stopped writing about their experiences and they were told to write about the future. I don’t want to over simplify because I am doing this in very short terms and I am not really being explicit. But, this is the central idea. What you get — you get a whole long phase from the ’90s, or perhaps as much as the last ten years of the absence of vigorous political comment. Certainly the writers who criticized apartheid were not going to criticize society in the post Apartheid period.
BRUTUS: As you know under Apartheid, we had a very strong writers union called COSAWU and that stood for Congress of South African Writers Union, or something like that. Now, and this is quite remarkable, after Apartheid ended, a few of the people who had been a part of COSAWU propose that COSAWU should be revised and continued and astoundingly they were attacked by the writers who had now become apart of the establishment. Who said “oh, we don’t need that kind of organization anymore because that was an organization of writers who were critical of the government now we have a government that we are very pleased with, so we don’t need to have an organization.” I was in South Africa and I urged the revival of the organization and a few people supported me, but not sufficient to actually revive the organization. *(Albie Sachs is a Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He was appointed in 1994 by President Mandela in the wake of South Africa’s first democratic elections.)
SOUTH AFRICAN POETS
MANDELA, HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED?
The fence strides round the property Rusted barbed wire, once electrified. But in its day it outshone everything.
Have you ever wondered As we pick up the dead, heavy Weight of ugly brutal past That threatens to suffocate us, Embarking on Masakhane campaign Rehumanising sickly-frail street children of the earth Placing detoured souls under the caring golden sun That the global village bleeds from money madness?
Another fence to keep the Xhosas out, Its steel poles stranded here forever. The garden on the rock. Oh lord protect us.
Have you ever wondered As we patch centuries-old Fresh, gaping wounds, Closing pockmarked cannonhole-ridden Buildings that once eroded life like ebola That so many relax in cosy gardens – In electrific red duvets and make love?
I’M LISTENING. I’M LISTENING (Ah, what a fool I am!) memory is a space: slide away death's lid and lower yourself to walk about in landscapes of recollection, the pulsating dimensions of view and of breath
Have you ever wondered As you scratch your skin Searching for your uniqueness – your own self That the triumphant crowd retires to ghettoes?
perhaps my eyes will no longer be of the best, colors be more brash, distances more intimate, and those birds are they crows or bats, is heaven of ceramic or fluff or of flesh?
Have you ever wondered?
RECLAIMING LAND — for my son, Davey
and that wind soundlessly weeping through hollows and crowns — how to return to the place which I have always borne like a grave rhythm under the skin?
1. On the peeling balcony they smoke a zol, monkey-fighting. She’s complaining to the father that held her too tight (or never held her at all) with his smoky eyes, his stained vest.
could it be my imagination or have I truly forgotten?
they clear out the trash, while their bosses the New Citizens of Wealth, ex-cops, or blacks pay them as little as possible.
Clothes go up, pegged on the line. Come down. A calendar to the cavity. Someone sits six floors up from nowhere head in his hands writing a letter.
As if everything should be over, in a dream in a portent, in a song (Johnny Clegg at a rugby stadium). You can walk safely here past the pigeons, cameras on racks.
They don’t fix the lifts here and office space is cheap. Water flushes from the 13th floor into the basement where I park my car. The security guard has been beaten by his compass. He jangles his bruise in his pocket like a coin.
The hawkers come to spread their mats 2. At the clinic we pull the curtains around your quarantine. I hold you, tell you a story trying to remember — The drip reclaiming you, your dried up frame burning, limp, in my arms
At the Muslim take-out I order slap chips They run an efficient business bake loaves of bread and pasty cakes that smell too sweet. R24,95. People enter, ask the price, leave — someone’s birthday. Maybe the kid on the fourth floor watching tv…
You are my story the mirror where my land begins and ends, — i tell you i love you
A bad tailor curses under his breath pin between teeth, hitching up a dress.
(while above the rough-shoed flats the black sky tills the moon the electricity is back on the strike of hunger is in the streets)
Taxis break. Maybe 18, nothing to do he stares through the window, blank as a cough. The corporates move in across the street reclaiming riverland from the Nile somewhere to harvest their conscience and cash.
Zol: Dope or cannabis. Slap chips: Oily chips with salt and vinegar. Johnny Clegg: Popular musician who successfully fused Zulu culture and music with his own. Became a symbol of racial integration and the ‘rainbow nation’.
Street guards — private companies are told where to stand, at street corners and who to look our for. In between that
SOUTH AFRICAN POETS
Bernat Kruger Allan Kolski Horwitz
FLIGHT: SA 473
PICK'N PAY/PER BAG/-ACK-PACK
White cloud on a peak thin cold air gathering accumulation precious pitter patter
(Minds over-burdened By heavy-loaded-knowledge) Pick ’n Pay/per-bag/-ack-pack (Intelligent To the point of madness) That we may live to love And the philosophers Have no answers Matter-physics survive(s) On a Truth evasive Juice (truce) And reconciliation circus Selling merchandise Of lies Quest For the best Attempt to clone an elephant From an ant (Black boys in the ghetto Try to make sense By kicking the soccer ball) The word is sword Sharp-sharp blade (One billion litres of a littered Dr. Eam. Dying is A tycoon business) They continue to harass My sleeplessness But I return To assert: POUR-WET (Blessed are The ignorant Cost of dying so high It boils down To the same cesspitruth).
who can see ghosts between the brown\green bottom as the red slit fades? solar explosions swung to the dark side of Earth wings surge I think of Ike’s blind mother who slept on a ragged blanket by the stove she stopped eating weeks ago used to vomit up except the soft pap he fed her one hundred and one misty blue eyes skin wrinkled and rough curled up on a blanket she stopped breathing last night I see next to me the woman crying over supper is the woman I once loved who fucks other men and cries with pleasure this woman crying in the seat next to me holds Fair Lady on her lap
from SHE DREAMS OF KILLING BLACK CHILDREN Theres carrots the size of orange forearms in her kitchen She wants to give these to domestics but for some reason she doesn’t Theres rats in her kitchen the size of small dogs The poison she mixes with diced carrot doesn’t work In desperation she chases the rats out her cupboards And into open spaces where she manages to dive And catch one and pin it down with her weight, the rat Squirms with tenacity she strains herself to hold it down She keeps her fingers out of reach of its jaws It takes minutes feeling seriously extenuated For the squirming to finally go limp and warm, Rising she is horrified to find the rat she has just killed Has a nose squeezed to the point where the skin burst And it has the face of a black child
Kgafela oa Magogodi
TO BE LIKE SO & SO when i was a laitie i did a bit of karate wanted to BE like bruce lee wipe out a whole army of maburu ka kung fu. one ugly friday brawl at maponyane primary i gooi up some drunken master but ezaya messed me up with moer se clap. meneer tshetlhane said i lost to the chap cos i don’t look like i eat my pap. well karete was kak without a black belt. thought i’d make some chelt if i mastered tsamaya soos lekawana botsotso dladla. i played zwepe to raise some money & bought dicox tsa puma cos i wanted to BE like mjomana. although i could do the spy2 like zoo diskie was not really my thing. too much gymming & so it got a bit boring. then i thought ja maybe if i finish isgela i can BE like doctor jivhoho sell a few panados to make enough dough. but i was too arty for biology. in fact i failed to figure out the mysteries of amoeba. tried to BE like karabo & work out the square root of four. but i must admit in that in algebra i was a bit of a dom kop. maar i was not a moegoe in the street cos i hit the pop when i rolled the dice like die oorla sipho mkula. but koki told mama that i played madice le ditsotsi. so i quit before mama told papa that i was so stout. back to school & die man kap die hout. soon i wanted to BE like molefi . took pencil & paper to sketch the rise & falls of soweto. that’s before i saw isketch at eyethu. but i was too shy act like tsu would do. so many times i wanted to BE like so & so til i met bra zinga & became an instant poet. now my worry is the hole in my pocket. maybe i can BE a fat cat politician or a millionaire rebel. i was not born to blast the pentagon although sometimes i wear a turban i can’t BE as sexy as bin laden with pictures on papers & on TV. & so i must just BE me. BE happy with my amprrr poetry.
SOUTH AFRICAN POETS
Lebogang M. Mashile
Ike Mboneni Muila
WATER IN A SIEVE
I KNEW A GIRL ONCE
JAMMING IN MY MIND
When the state extended Its sympathetic hand To children Whose fathers were hidden in the ground, Opportunity rang a bell. Young women flocked graveyards With pens and papers, Searching for cold names. When the government decreed A support grant For children of lizards, Little girls became boekpens So that they too could queue And be rewarded for lifting their skirts.
I knew a girl once who lived in a house made out of skin With the spine of time stretched through it The slightest wind would make it spin It trapped a symphony of voices An escalading cacophony of whirlwinds Each one a pin-point in time An etched groove in her mind But she refused to unravel Terrified of what she might find
That no lies will hold it within Everyday of your life a new truth you will write But with your eyes closed you will spin
Instead she spent her days living from the outside in She wore the badges of silence And learned to bend with most winds And when the horns would blow She'd let their fury reign from within Protected by falsehoods and pride, a thick societal skin But to the world she glowed like the moon and sunâ€™s origin Wrapped up in someone else's skin That's when the whispers begin That she was coloured by incest Coloured by date rape Coloured by pretense, false representation, false mandates
Hungry violent boys crack a blue movie sound track weaving seeds of sin pact counting one two three they keep their dreams intact against cracked walls of faith through thin circles of fate one foot tripped off in a dream another bites the stream dreams that felt the strain from his tinted brain kicking his mental blackout tricks searching their backs for coin stacks it is cold down there they chant a slogan for warmth release all prisoners praise poets of the people for a comfortable position thin circles of fate stretched out
To my childhood friend
When the country waved Its generous hand To victims of AIDS Many thrashed their moral values. Young women took to Taverns Then filed in hospitals to be tested If perchance they qualify for the grant.
Open your eyes Realize when your true voice calls That no lies will hold it within Everyday of your life a new truth you will write But with your eyes closed you will spin
In the past When we came across a corpse we changed our course or crossed our hearts. Today we tilt its head, prize its mouth open to rob it of its goldsheathed teeth.
Head on a challenger like a tattered hen same style same pattern as usual as always come over off. . .back off come over come over come over come over. . . back off what a marsh mellow jam session in my veins hell haunted condense milk in my mind with a finger up there ting ting tinkling tune strumming down avenues of my black box brain decoder gee indian sweet spicy jam chillies burn out fire oven behave/stop noise roofing in a come together poor man in the street behave yourself ugly cable dresser in my skull disco joint for both eardrums there goes greeting Mr big fish where are the small fish double adopter swivel turn wire dangling a carrot current flow before my face that which reminded me of my childhood friends Mpoporia and Dingding dancing to the sound of torn underwear rollerskate sound mamma shall we pack now with a shocking sound of pleasant surprise mamma miya free bees man the meaty juice is spilling over come over. . . back off or back off come over come over come over. . . back off
HUNGRY VIOLENT BOYS CRACK
Open your eyes Realize when your true voice calls That no lies will hold it within Everyday of your life a new truth you will write But with your eyes closed you will spin
VERSION GENERAL / mains terminated chorus season sewermen hewer-men of semen venereal parasites broken aerial combatants verbal penitents
Open your eyes Realize when your true voice calls
SOUTH AFRICAN POETS
official-slime-snout slug-genital putrid-orificial human mains terminal the generals walk free specifics crawl in lock-down horrific cute as electric mock crucifix the lynch-mob is jesus (aryan fractricks) ’come down the tree clown monkey’ tropics give up forestry in human currency we have a general amnesty II we rock cranial constraints regimental entities surge purge ele/mental impurities psyche taints contaminated senses (this) cyber-occult computed genesis knowledge gone military science’s artillery VIRAL brains terminated mains inseminated towards techno-utility
APARTHEID MINIATURES Amongst the desolation of a gritty beach, abraded by years of abuse a pole stands free. The paint, once vivid orange, is now rubbed back into original hard grey steel; but the plaque above it remains legible. No Non-Europeans Permitted repeated in Afrikaans and Zulu. The winds scrape, the howling prowls ceaselessly against the expanse of washed-out beach. You can see corroded stones and bits of grease deposited in blobs long ago. The sea attacks the shore as though it had no choice, a sluggish churning. There’s a searing wind which cuts and tears, astringent to a peeled skin. Grit which sticks under your eyelids, scraping quietly, till your eyes water and the grit pops out like tears. Far away a hut stands disintegrating, deserted, crumbling with every new weed and strenuous effort of tide, You shield your eyes against the hardness, and feel the slap of salt water stinging on your face.
III withdraw from gore-bank fill up blood tank crank up warmobile stateship’s at dock (fate’s cheap as rock crack to a crock) clock in at treachery factory humanity a guarantee to shock ‘cos nation-manure is human FEAR’s the engine in THE MAN’s manufacture secret as service machine
as those who tend them bend then lift their backs, bend then straighten, with pangas that search out the sun
Yet these days the young people talk of Africa. They sound like those big men in their suits who have forgotten
while contending minibuses careen past trucks and each other demented technicolour wasps hurtling towards the best place to be angry
that Africa is no thing you talk of but won’t touch, won’t get your hands dirty finding
cane chaff skidding between their wheels in a freshening wind
— they hunt all over for something all the time in the palm of their hands.
and children at the roadside raise hands in greeting but soon there are more fists than hands and then, with growing frequency, they have empty palms held out — but from the north; it’s always the dry wind from the north.
When I was young, in trance my mother’s riding spirit demanded a snake to dance with and she always found one and then danced, she, who otherwise was scared of her own shadow —
Past the Hluhluwe River the road mutates to a gravel worm; bears rocks the size of grapefruits
this taught me that you cannot know a thing till you are prepared to risk your fingers down its hole. IV
though it’s here we found an old man like a caution. If I can come close to what he said
This drought? Yes, I see the grazing die. I see kids struggle and carry water buckets big as they are miles from each tap. I see the trees peel off their skin
II I’ve always had bad luck: no red-eyed dove ever flew across my path to offer me a blessing
daydream in the cracks the bark-faces of women shrunk into grimacing by the panic of their hunger
and it is so that I know too well the way whites can be but old as I am each day that, not long after you appeared, my people forgot the wine of the marula was not a thing for sale.
I smell a thought of rain. And all things have their day.
My son and daughters left for the city, and now my grandchildren too, but at best what will they find there?
Know this. Some day soon our young people will find some ways to come back to our mastery.
MEDITATIONS IN A DESSICATING LANDSCAPE
IV bug addiction drug mission vision religion lie-linguist-tick speak seek/sick mindspace invasion mal-cum eXtermination century decimation judgement declares abrogation cloak-label it blah-trite conciliate pscho-logic bares ill-hate
I Two years of drought, flaunting itself more brassily the further north we go, through toll plaza after plaza, till only undulating hillocks of sugar cane pimpled with shirts stay a watered green
I have watched a mamba bite a dog; and seen, even before the creature makes sense of his coming death, how the ticks start to fall off him.
Hluhluwe: a river and town in northern KwaZulu. Red-eyed Dove: South African bird which in KwaZulu is supposed to bring good luck, esp. if it crosses one’s path. Wind: north of Durban, rain usually comes from the south. Mamba: extremely poisonous and aggressive snake found throughout much of northern and eastern South Africa.
Translated from the English by Verónica Watt
CHRIST OF FILTER & FIBER
CRISTO DE FIBRA Y FILTRO
Broken into. disjunction functionally. This tepid text of foot prints. Stove tops. Kerosene. Aspirate. oh. whoa. clear. hoe. looking for sleep. clear. Ascending. do not try to find upwards of. you have been. sagacious. not only a trip but greasy “catch a shiny face by its itsy bitsy scotch” Fraud. percolator. “It’s time for the percolator.” call me. I was. How elegant. Those teeth. My god. Dead. Oh god. throating. A gag. Just a gag, think of it as, as peptone. Think mantis. think how green. think how premature. think animal Made of adobe. Son of bond maid. Ad verbum you suck. “Its time for the percolator.” Adumbrated dummy – Quit sending me mail. Searching for the perfect line they are liable to write anything down, I mean most likely these days I am to be fascinated by those who bore me. the delight, you piece of shit You fucking Johnson, You fucking jingle, You fucking press whore and how you left the love of your life for some something unprecious counterpoint understand me here, hear, per contra. Diglossia or bourgeois disintegration since this man in this skin has arrived here, hear. nose in the books disturbed by the falling tower of books. frozen buck in the headlights. A computer crashing, hammer antique software, flagrante delicto – I bet you’re satisfied now you mind fucking theorist. I read your book and it was exactly the same book that, that other asshole wrote. As if the tree and its goo were the surbordinate clause, you articulate so much You piece of residual fetus in the womb. You taste like chicken You look like chimpanzee You are grandson of cannibal Are you cannibal? You clever piglet –
He knows what poisons the air this March morning, somewhere beyond the pines. Smokestacks, a neighbor burning rubbish, clearing a lot upon which to build
Él sabe qué contamina el aire esta mañana de Marzo,
his house. The ponds choke with duckweed, runoff sludge. Fish breathe o’s, breaking the surface of oilslicked waters. You can feel things coming to the end
su casa. Los charcos llenos de maleza, rebosan
of their cycles, a trailing off of wind, a scattering of dead leaves like bad news upon the verge of human surrender. He rises from this froth of eternity’s lake,
de su ciclo, el silbido del viento, las hojas muertas
walks through ash and fire. He stoops to pick up a handful of scorched earth. He smells it, then puts chunks of it in his mouth. He tastes it. This is fiber,
cruza las cenizas y el fuego. Se inclina
this is the way we learn to pass through again, cherish what we are given, or what is taken from us, time of the sparrow, crow, a blue jay on a barbed wire fence.
así es como aprendemos a pasar por esto nuevamente, a valorar
One deep breath, he moves on, resurrection already a memory, like the sun, the moon, the way shadows play chase among the trees. He is the son of oblivion.
Respira hondo, sigue adelante, resurrección es solo
en algún lugar más allá de los pinos. Columnas de humo, un vecino quema basura, despeja un sitio donde construir
de lodo. Los peces respiran a bocanadas, quebrando la superficie aceitosa del agua. Puedes sentir las cosas llegando al final
desparramándose como malas noticias al límite de la rendición humana. Él se alza desde la ebullición del lago de la eternidad
recoge un puñado de tierra quemada. La huele, luego pondrá restos de ella en su boca. La prueba. Esto es fibra,
lo que nos es dado, o lo que se nos quita, tiempo del gorrión, del cuervo, de la loica sobre un cerco de púas.
un recuerdo, como el sol, la luna, la forma que tienen las sombras de jugar a perseguirse entre los árboles. Él es el hijo del olvido.
SO MANY PRISONERS
RUE DU REGARD
LINES THREE WEEKS BEFORE MY WEEDING
Every night another verse line line line, the beauty of truth from the press of death, no lack of blood for ink, the rope uncoiling its critic.
There is, of course, too much of it. What wants let in? If you had to describe something differently from itself, would it be here
My world is partitioned into clear romance, The room giants well above our high street.
We will call a mango “the delicious heart.” We will call the fuel pump, “not combustion, but its courier.” In this way, our errands are enriched with possibility. Even now, stacked in the produce aisle, we can find “orbs of raw blush” at three dollars a basket. And when the garage calls, the mechanic will say, “You need a new messenger of fire.” As we thumb through our wallets and make calculations in our head, we consider the genus and species of our words, the inner workings of their connection. With each mundane transaction, we stare, unknowingly, across a divide. And then we stare back. It’s then we whisper, “nutrition or torque?” But listen to this: “sugar and gasoline.”
that you would find out how? Questions, I’ve found, fill half the basket. There was once a philosophy of this. I am shown to a table. Winter
Then every day erased, whitewashed or mud smeared, the wall blank, bleak, silent. Sometimes excised by guards — stung by what? Escape.
is always first a presence, then a word. Light is an excellent source. Would you suggest flowers, a card, or both? Another question: strategy.
And sometimes removed by you — not here, not yet.
Ask the blue for more darkness, it may oblige. Then, the winter is a sky, night the way a boy touches her tongue with a finger, not finding it cold, so you can say: red, heat, at the heart of ice. This is a drink, a crystalline excuse for what was meant to end the surplus. Beginning is lack’s reverse.
I see a child on the pavement joy-dance; sense a perfected imbalance: curved eyes That in a glance can click upon a vision; Each swoon enjoys its own intermission. Friday prepares to give delight permission To cut the meat, on this clean white table So fairly, that all who are able, may pass Their bone plates up to the top, get seconds. A wedding approaches; so does our bliss, Though it will wait on fecundity's inversion. For everything which gleams or swoops on Portions of graced light, accepts conditions.
Paris, May 21, 2003
“…il fato invano” (Leopardi)
“…il fato invano” (Leopardi)
De repente mal existe
Evil suddenly exists the kind that corrodes, an old everlasting evil unauthored and unpredictable, badly left and badly done, evil that was barely finished in the cycle of being alive and that suddenly leaves you suspended: but it doesn’t exist. Or subsist, not even this. Not even its inverse, a simple sign of consent. In the chest, it is more than a pure mistake, salt of our senses, running toward a wall that doesn’t rescue us and urges for its embrace, this quick breath, so quick! Here rises the summit perceived to be irreducible: nothing remained completely alive.
esse que te vai corroendo mal do antigo para sempre desautorado e imprevisto, mal deixado e mal cumprido, mal do que mal te encerrava no círculo de estar vivo e de repente te deixa suspenso: mas não existe. Ou subiste. Nem isso. Nem a negativa, o simples sinal de consentimento, no peito são mais que puro engano, sal dos sentidos, corridas de encontro a um muro que não nos resgata e urde seu abraço, esse respiro breve, ah, breve! Eis que desliza o sumo do que era tido por irredutível: nada ficou totalmente vivo.
Translated from the Portuguese by Flávia Rocha & Idra Novey
AS ESPÉCIES MENORES
THE MINOR SPECIES
Sente, Emily Dickinson,
Feel it, Emily Dickinson, this greenery of time, monochord fear in human eyes and the strangeness of being born entangled in everything and afraid of death so that, disaster after disaster, we might wake and grow… Early we sway as a clover would sway in the veins, and suddenly blood carries us, unreal and concrete, and gradually we mature. With no autumns here, we wave our twigs, and almost-nothing becomes everything, an ellipsis, an arrow around perfection, what is possible, scarce. Emily, you know the price, the profits and risks, Emily Dickinson.
essa relva do tempo, o espanto monocórdio nos olhos humanos, e o estranho que é nascer enredados em tudo e com medo da morte para, baque após baque, acordar e crescer… Cedo oscilamos como um trevo oscilaria nas veias e logo vem o sangue, o irreal e o concreto e nos tomam e aos poucos maduramos. Sem Outunos por cá, varamos nossos ramos e um quase-nada é tudo, uma elipse, uma aresta cercando o perfeito, o possível, o parco, Emily que conheces o preço, o ganho e o risco, Emily Dickinson. Não, não houve mudança visível e ainda não vemos. Por dentro passou o momento calado e o amor perguntando, mas talvez o que veio e o que se foi sem recurso ou ruído nos ensine a perder e esperar, ou simplesmente abrir as mãos para o arrulho dos pombos, nós, os que ardemos soltos no pátio real, que nos pesa de leve nos ombros. Vertical é a memória e a queda que nela somos. Longos são os Verões das Hespérides, longos, longos.
From Anulação e Outros Reparos, written between 1960-1963.
No, there’s been no visible change and we still can’t see. Inside, a quiet moment passed and a questioning love, but perhaps what came and left without reason or sound will teach us to loosen and wait, or simply open our hands to the cooing of doves, we, who burn away in the land of reality, that softly weighs upon our shoulders. Memory is as vertical as this fall that becomes us. Long are the Hesperidins summers, long, long.
Translated from the Portuguese by Flávia Rocha & Idra Novey
There are mines To the north of a great city Where the miners Haven’t seen sunlight For at least 25 years. It’s said that they have Fluorescent eyes like fish From the deepest regions of the sea. It’s said they have altered lungs And that they never cry Because it hurts too much. But they are men, Still men, The miners of the north.
Ao norte de uma grande cidade, Onde os mineiros Não vêem a luz Há pelo menos 25 anos. Dizem que têm Olhos fosforescentes Como peixes de regiões abissais. Dizem que nascem da terra E se proliferam por bipartição. Dizem que têm pulmões modificados E que nunca choram Porque dói muito. Mas são homens,
BAJO EL RÍO DE LAS ESTRELLAS
UNDER THE RIVER OF THE STARS
(Lidia Ibáñez bajo el cielo del Yelcho)
(Lidia Ibáñez under Yelcho’s sky)
Mi amor está triste porque me morí. Dice que
My love is sad because I died. He says that never again will the flowers open and never again will he see my smile. He also says that once again the great rivers will swell to flood the earth and that now they will never change course. He repeats that he wants to go away with me. No the thorns that he pierces himself with do not hurt him, nor the boiling water that he pitches on himself. He claims that just like the animals a relative dies, wordlessly, leaving the night black and the day as well. My sister retorts that only shedding tears makes the rain and that neither she nor anyone will stop raining, and neither birds nor sweet nothings will she hear again. My love says that up north, where the waters come from, the eyes are consumed in pure blue. In love, he says, the young men and the young women look at each other’s blue eyes and I only see his little eyes, the color of mud, the fold of his eyelids, his little eyes. He was moaning, and he glued his mouth to mine as if he were humming and the moan was ascending to him from my face, yes, father, opening to him as if through the long night that was coming, oh, yes, beloved rivers, beloved trees, beloved mountains, beloved winds, belove skies, beloved people. Beloved rivers.
nunca más las flores abrirán ni mi sonrisa verá más. El también dice que volverán a crecer los grandes ríos sobre la tierra y que ya jamás se voltearán. Repite que quiere irse conmigo. No las espinas que se clava no le duelen ni el agua hirviendo que se arroja. El suelta que mismo que los animales el pariente muere, sin palabras, dejando negro el noche y el día también. Mi hermana le contesta que sólo el lloro es lluvia y que ella ni nadie parará de llover ni pájaros ni arrumacos oirá más.
El amor mío cuenta que para el norte, de donde
Os mineiros do norte.
vienen las aguas, los ojos se comen de puro azules. De amor, dice, los muchachos y las muchachas se miran los ojos azules y yo no más del color lodo veo sus ojitos, su arrugo de
Translated from the Spanish by José Castañeda & Rose Shapiro
párpados, sus ojitos. Así en gemido él me pegaba la boca como canturreando y el gemido se le iba subiendo desde mi cara más alto, sí
padrecito, abriéndosele como por la larga noche que se venía oh sí queridos ríos, queridos árboles, queridas montañas, queridos vientos,
Si solamente supieras como lloro y no puedo
If you only knew how I cry and I can’t wake up, how sweet you would think me if you were like me before the rivers of my country crying for you. I was told, and it’s not true; I alone have seen you, I saw your face the color of jet and of the sky, but no. The boys waved white flags in the compound, but they beat us just the same. Are you among the beaten, the weeping ones, the dead? Are you there, too, my God, sleeping upside down? There is no forgiveness for this new land, I am told, and nothing we do will change our fate; but I cry and I can’t wake up, and my God is departing like a ship.
despertar, qué graciosa me verías si estuvieras como yo frente a los ríos de mi país llorando por ti. Me contaron y no es cierto, únicamente yo te he visto, vi tu cara color del azabache y del cielo pero no. Los muchachos sacaron banderas blancas en el campamento, pero igual nos golpearon ¿Estás tú entre los golpeados, los llorosos los muertos? ¿Estás tú también allí mi Dios durmiendo cabeza abajo? No hay perdón para esta nueva tierra, me dicen y nada de lo que hagamos cambiará la suerte que tendremos, pero yo lloro y no
queridos cielos, querida gente. Queridos ríos.
despierto y mi Dios se aleja como un barco.
Translated from the Spanish by José Castañeda & Rose Shapiro
... Adonis was born Ali Ahmed Said in Kassabin, Syria, in 1930. Some of his books of poetry include If Only the Sea Could Sleep (Green Integer Books, 2003) and The Blood of Adonis (1971), winner of the Syria-Lebanon Award of the International Poetry Forum. He co-founded Sh'ir poetry magazine, and later Muwaqaf, both progressive reviews formed while he was in exile in Beirut in the 1960s. Adonis's awards and honors include the first ever International Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Award, the Syria-Lebanon Best Poet Award, and the Highest Award of the International Poem Biennial in Brussels. He was elected as Stephen Mallarme Academy Member in Paris in 1983. He currently lives in Paris. Vilma Tapia Anaya has published Del deseo y la rosa, Corazones de terca escama, and Oh estaciones, oh castillos. Andrés Anwandter is a psychologist and poet. In 1996 he published El árbol del Lenguaje en Otoño; Especies Intencionales (2001) and Square Poems in 2003. Among other awards his work has received the City of Santiago Poetry Prize and the Neruda Foundation Creative Writing Fellowship. João Bandeira works with poetry in text, image, and sound. He is the author of Princípio da Poesia (1991) and Rente (1997), and currently performs with the group Poemix in shows of multimedia poetry. As a songwriter, he has collaborated with Alice Ruiz, Arnaldo Antunes, Cid Campos, and Paulo Tatit. Paul Beatty is a poet, performance artist, and novelist born in West Los Angeles, but living in New York City. His books of poetry include Joker, Joker, Deuce (Penguin, 1994) and Big Bank Take Little Bank (1991). He is also the author of the novels Tuff (2000) and The White Boy Shuffle (1996). Derek Beres was the managing editor of Global Rhythm. He is currently working on his first book, Global Beat Fusion, about the electronic fusion of South Asian classical music. He is a global beat DJ and plays nationally as part of the Globesonic crew and is one-half of DJ duo Baroque Monad. Sally W. Bliumis' poems have been published or are forthcoming in the Paris Review, Poetry London, Prairie Schooner, and the Spoon River Poetry Review. She was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize and a semifinalist for the Kenyon Review Poetry Prize in 2002 and a semifinalist for the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize in 2003. She teaches poetry reading and fiction writing at SUNY Purchase. Andrea Carter Brown’s first book of poems, Brook & Rainbow, won the 2000 Sow’s Ear Press Chapbook Competition. She is a founding editor of Barrow Street, and her poems have won the Gustav Davidson Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the New Voice Award from The Writer’s Voice, and the 2002 National Poet Hunt Contest. Andrea Hollander Budy is the writer-in-residence at Lyon College, Batesville, Ark. Her most recent poetry collections are The Other Life (Story Line Press, 2000) and House Without a Dreamer (Story Line, 1993), which won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. She is winner of a Pushcart Prize, the Ellipsis Poetry Award, and fellowships from the NEA and the Arkansas Arts Council. David Cameron is a world-reknowned poet on Phobos, where his books Flowers of Bad and Several Ghouls Hardly Worth Mentioning have seen multiple printings and been translated into a variety of Martian dialects. Due to complications stemming from inter-planetary copyright law, these books have yet to complete publication on Earth. He lives happily on Phobos with three bears. Augusto de Campos, poet, translator, literature & music critic, is a founder, with Haroldo de Campos and Decio Pignatari, of the magazine Noigrandes,
... that launched the movement of Concrete Poetry in Brazil. His work has appeared in several international anthologies, including Concrete Poetry: an International Anthology, (London, 1967), Concrete Poetry: a World View. (University of Bloomington, Indiana, 1968) and Anthology of Concrete Poetry (New York, 1968). Mosf of his poems are collected in Viva Vaia (1979), Despoesia (1994) and Nco (2003).
several of Ernesto Cardenal's books including From Nicaragua, with Love: Poems 1979–1986 (City Lights, 1987), winner of the 1987 Robert Payne Award of the Translation Center at Columbia University; With Walker in Nicaragua and Other Early Poems, 1949–1954 (Wesleyan University Press, 1985); Zero Hour and Other Documentary Poems (New Directions, 1980); and Prayer for Marilyn Monroe and Other Poems (unpublished translation made in 1971).
Cid Campos has released several albums including No Lago do Olho and Fala da Palavra. He has collaborated with numerous artists including Arnaldo Antunes, Augusto de Campos and Walter Franco.
Miles A. Coon received his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2002. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Haroldo de Campos, (1929-2003), gained worldwide recognition in the early 1950s as one of the founders of Noigandres, the Brazilian group of poets who set the agenda for concrete poetry. He taught literary theory at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica, in São Paulo, for most of his life, and published several volumes on translation theory and on Brazilian and international literature. He was a prolific translator who introduced the work of many foreign poets to Brazil, beginning in the early 1950s with Ezra Pound, and most recently Charles Bernstein. His last work of translation, Homer's Iliad, has been published in two volumes by Mandarim, in São Paulo. Ernesto Cardenal is the author of a number of books of poetry including Marilyn Monroe and Other Poems (1965), The Psalms of Struggle and Liberation (1967), In Cuba (1974), Apocalypse and Other Poems (1977), Nicaraguan New Time (1988), Cosmic Canticle (1993), and The Doubtful Strait (1995). Nicaraguan dictactor Anastasio Somoza declared Cardenal an outlaw in 1957 for his support of the Sandinista movement. In 1965, he was ordained a priest and founded a Christian commune, Solentiname. During the revolution, Cardenal served as a field chaplain for the FSLN. After the triumph, he served as Minister of Culture from 1979 to 1988 and promoted literary workshops throughout Nicaragua. At present he is the Vice President of Casa de Las Tres Mundos, a literary and cultural organization based in Managua.
David Cope has six books of poetry. He MC'd the 2004 Pablo Neruda Centennial Celebration at Grand Rapids Community College, and has read at Brooklyn College, in Rochester, Hoboken, Hamtramck, and with Carl Rakosi at the 1987 Objectivist Conference in Boulder. Anne Coray lives at her birthplace in southwestern Alaska. Her poetry has appeared in Green Mountains Review, Nimrod, Northwest Review, Rattle, and the Women’s Review of Books. Her chapbook Ivory won the 2001 Anabiosis Press Competition. Chad Davidson is assistant professor of English at the State University of West Georgia. His poems have appeared in the Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Double Take, Notre Dame Review, the Paris Review, Pequod, and Seneca Review. His first collection of poems Consolation Miracle was published by Southern Illinois University Press. Ligia Dabul is a poet and anthropologist from Rio de Janeiro. Her book Um Percurso da Pintura is a result of etnographic research on the subject of identity in a contemporary art environment. Sandra Maresh Doe lives in Denver and teaches at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Her poetry chapbook Lies and Promises was published in 1999.
Michael Carman completed her MFA in poetry in 2004 at Sarah Lawrence College, where she was senior poetry editor of the graduate literary journal. She leads creative writing workshops for Poets & Writers and has taught writing in jails of the Westchester County correctional system and at Delancey Street Foundation in Brewster, N.Y.
Sharon Dolin is the author of Heart Work (Sheep Meadow, 1995), Serious Pink (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Realm of the Possible (Four Way Books, 2004), as well as four chapbooks. She teaches poetry workshops at the 92nd St.Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center in New York City and is coordinator and co-judge of the Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition.
Julio Carrasco is part of the Chilean art collective “Casagrande” responsible for the bombing of poems over Guernika, Dubrovnik, and Santiago. He received the Creative Writing Fellowship from Neruda Foundation in 1996. His book, El libro de los tiburones was published in 1995.
Sean Thomas Dougherty is a nationally reknowned performance poet and author of five books including a book of experimental prose, The Biography of Broken Things (2002 Mitkimitki Press) and Except by Falling, winner of the 2000 Pinyon Press Poetry Prize from Mesa State College. He teaches at Penn State Erie.
José Castañeda and Rose Shapiro worked in a collaborative translation of Raúl Zurita’s poetry. These versions were read by the poet in 2004 at Harvard University and the reading hosted by Rattapallax in New York City. Jai Chakrabarti is a writer of poetry and fiction. His work has been published in Barrow Street, Symposium, and (from India) The Statesman and Festival. He lives in NYC. Gretl Claggett graduated with her master of fine arts in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2004. After an acting career on- and off-Broadway, then a stint as a video and film producer, she now works as an account executive at a marketing agency in New York City. Jonathan Cohen has received several awards for his writing, including grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has translated
Dennis Driscoll is a musician and storyteller who writes, performs, and records stories about his experiences growing-up in New York City in the 1960's and 70's. He runs an East Village restaurant called "Old Devil Moon" and lives in Inwood, NY. Nei Duclos has published three books of poetry: Outubro (1976), No Meio da Rua (1979) No Mar, Veremos (2001). His most recent novel, Universo Baldio, came out in 2004. Ellen Kirvin Dudis grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., but has been living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for 25 years. Her poems have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Christian Science Monitor, Cream City Review, and The Nation Moira Egan has an MFA from Columbia University, where her manuscript was awarded the Austin Prize by James Merrill in 1992. Recent work appears
in American Letters & Commentary, The Drunken Boat, Poetry, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives and teaches in Baltimore. Martin Figura, a member of the poetry performance group "The Joy of Six," was born in Liverpool in 1956. After 25 years in the British Army, he is now a photographer and accountant based in Norwich. He started writing and performing in 1998 and a collection, The Little Book of Harm, was published in 2000. Armando Freitas Filho is the author of several books of poetry, including Dual (1966), De Corpo Presente (1975), Longa Vida (1982), 3x4 (1985, winner of the Prêmio Jabuti), Cabeça de Homem (1991), Duplo Cego (1997). A volume of his collected and revised poems, entitled Máquina de Escrever, also containing his new book Numeral/Nominal, was published in 2003. Annie Finch's books of poetry include Calendars (Tupelo Press, 2003) and Eve (Story Line Press, 1997). Her books on poetics include The Heart of Poetry: Essays on Women and Poetics, forthcoming in the Poets on Poetry Series from the University of Michigan Press and, with Kathrine Varnes, An Exaltation of Forms:Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art (Michigan, 2002). Finch is Associate Professor on the graduate faculty of the creative writing program at Miami University, and lives in Cincinnati and in Maine. Brentley Frazer's work appears in Exquisite Corpse, Jack Magazine, Tiger Magazine, Identity Theory, Paper Tiger, Short Fuse, Subversions, and SideWalk. He is chief-editor of Retort Magazine. Lynn Freed was born and grew up in Durban, South Africa, but currently lives in San Francisco. In 1986, she won the Bay Area Book Reviewers' Award for Fiction for Home Ground. Friends of the Family was shortlisted for the 2000 Western States Book Award. In 2002, Ms. Freed was awarded the inaugural Katherine Anne Porter Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is a Professor of English at the University of California in Davis. Molly Giles is a winner of the Pushcart Prize, Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, Small Press Book Award, Boston Globe Award, Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her stories have been featured on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts. She made a triumphant debut as a novelist in 2000 with the critically acclaimed Iron Shoes. Giles is the 2003 Lurie Professor of Creative Writing at San Jose State University and Professor and Director of Programs in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas. Douglas Goetsch’s latest collection of poems, The Job of Being Everybody, won the 2003 Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Competition; a previous collection, Nobody’s Hell, was published in 1999 by Hanging Loose Press. His work has appeared in the anthologies Split: Stories from a Generation Raised on Divorce (McGraw-Hill, 2002) and Poetry After 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets (Melville House, 2002). He teaches creative writing to incarcerated teenagers at Passages Academy in the Bronx, N.Y. Kenneth Goldsmith is the author of seven books of poetry, founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (http://ubu.com) and the editor of I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews. He is also the host of a weekly radio show on New York City's WFMU. He teaches writing at The University of Pennsylvania, where he is a senior editor of the online poetry archive, PennSound. For more information, http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/goldsmith Gladys González's book Papelitos was published in Argentina by Eloisa Cartonera Ediciones and in Mexico by Crunch Ediciones (E-book). In 2004 she received the Neruda Foundation Creative Writing Fellowship, Chile.
... Joe Green has had poems in Perihelion, Fulcrum, and other publications. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota Tami Haaland’s collection of poetry, Breath in Every Room, won the 2001 Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press. Her work has appeared in Calyx, 5AM, and Rattapallax. She teaches creative writing at Montana State University–Billings. 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. Tomás Harris is the author of Zonas de peligro, El último viaje, Cipango (1993; Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997), Los 7 náufragos, and Itaca, among other collections of poems. He received the Premio Municipal de Poesía in 1993. His other awards include the Premio del Consejo Nacional del Libro y Lectura (1993), the Premio Pablo Neruda (1995), and the Casa de las Américas prize (1996), the last for his Crónicas maravillosas. Harris lives and works in Santiago, Chile. Kevin Higgins’ first collection of poetry, The Boy with No Face, was published in 2003 by Salmon Poetry. His poems have appeared in Books Ireland, Metre, Orbis, Poetry Ireland Review and The Sunday Tribune; his work is featured in Breaking the Skin: New Irish Poetry (Black Mountain Press, 2002) and in Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry (Rattapallax Press, 2002). In June 2002 he was a finalist in the Dublin Writers’ Festival Poetry Slam. Colette Inez is the author of nine books of poetry, including Clemency, The Woman Who Loved Worms, and Getting Under Way: New and Selected Poems and most recently Spinoza Doesn't Live Here Any More. Her memoir, The Secret of M. Dulong, is forthcoming in 2005. Inez is the recipient of numerous awards for poetry, including two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Foundation award, and two Pushcart Prizes. She teaches poetry at Columbia University.
... Subsequent works confirmed the rebel in Khaïr-Eddine. He proclaimed himself a "linguistic guerilla" with the goal of claiming new ground for unrestrained artistic expression. Some of his works include Soleil Arachnide (1969), Ce Maroc! (1975), and Résurrection des fleurs sauvages (1981).
Jon Mooallem has been associate editor of the Hudson Review, a journalist in the Czech Republic, and a kosher butcher. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in The Dark Horse, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Poetry, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Aaron Kiely is 34, lives in NYC and is thrilled to be part of Rattapallax.
Robert Morgan’s Topsoil Road: Poems was published in 2000 by Louisiana State University Press, which issued his New and Selected Poems. The most recent of his many novels is The Rock (Algonquin Books, 2001). He is Kappa Alpha Professor of English at Cornell University.
Li-Young Lee was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, where his father spent a year as a political prisoner in President Sukarno's jails. In the 1960's, his family settled in the United States as political refugees. The author of three books of poetry, Book of My Nights, The City in Which I Love You, Rose and a memoir The Winged Seed, Lee has won honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Tsaurah Litzky, author of the poetry collection, Baby on the Water (Long Shot Press), has been writing poetry since she was seven. Her novella, The Motion of the Ocean, was published by Simon & Schuster in July 2004. Tsaurah teaches erotic writing and erotic literature at the New School. Sheila Maldonado was born and raised in Brooklyn. Her family hails from Honduras. She graduated from the master's writing program at the City College of New York, where she received the Jack Zucker and Raymond Patterson Poetry Prizes. Her poems have been published in Promethean, Poetry in Performance, and Meridians. Ben Mazer’s essay revealing a previously unknown source for T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (an 1892 essay by Elisabeth Cavazza of Portland, Maine) appears in the second number of Fulcrum. He is the author of White Cities (Barbara Matteau Editions) and The Big House. Samuel Menashe, born in New York City in 1925, served as an infantryman in World War II and in 1950 was awarded a doctorate by the Sorbonne. 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.
Noemi Jaffe is a poet, translator, and professor of Brazilian literature. She is the author of Folha explica Macunaíma (2001), and Ver Palavras, Ler Imagens (2003).
Gonzalo Millán is a visual artist and writer from the 1960’s generation of Chilean poets. Some of the books he has published are: Relación Personal (1968), Virus (1984), Trece Lunas (1997), Claro Oscuro (2001) and Croquis, recently published by Universidad Diego Portales. One of his best known works is his long poetic account of the 1971 coup.
Patricia Spears Jones is the author of the collections, The Weather That Kills from Coffee House Press and the play Mother produced by Mabou Mines. Poems are anthologized in Poetry After 911; bumrush, a defpoetryjam; and Best American Poetry 2000.
John Minczeski’s poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Great River Review, Meridian, Notre Dame Review, and Sojourn. His book, Circle Routes, won the 2000 Akron Poetry Prize. He lives and works in the Twin Cities, teaching poetry to children and adults.
Eliot Katz is the author of three books of poetry, including Unlocking The Exits (Coffee House Press). He is poetry editor of the online politics quarterly, Logos (www.logosjournal.com), and recently guest-edited Long Shot literary journal's "Beat Bush issue."
Carol Mirakove is the author of Occupied (Kelsey Street Press, 2004), and two chapbooks, temporary tattoos (BabySelf Press, 2002) and WALL (ixnay, 1999). She is a founding member of the subpress collective. Carol has lived and participated in poetry communities in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New York. She currently lives in Brooklyn.
Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine (1941-1995) came from an Amazigh (Berber) family from southern Morocco. He was famous for his unbridled sense of freedom, making him one of the most controversial figures of Moroccan literature in French. Along with Abdellatif Laâbi and Mustapha Nissabory, Khaïr-Eddine launched the artistic journal Souffles in 1966. Khaïr-Eddine's writings defy all conventions and put all artistic and political suppositions into question. This was clear even in his first book, Agadir (1967).
Rick Moody is the author of Demonology, Purple America, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven, The Ice Storm and Garden State, which won the Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award. He is a past recipient of the Addison Metcalf Award and a Guggenheim fellowship. The Ice Storm was made into a movie in 1997 staring Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, and directed by Ang Lee.
Flávia Rocha is a Brazilian poet, journalist, and translator living in Curitiba. In São Paulo, she 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 has an M.F.A program in Writing at Columbia University and co-founded Acedemia Internacional de Cinema in Curitiba. Her first collection of poetry, The Blue House Around Noon was released by Travessa dos Editores in 2004.
Annegret Nill, a native of Germany, she emigrated to Canada, via South America, in 1970. She founded the Papertrail studio for the manufacturing of paper. In 1991 she published the selected poems of Gonzalo Milllán under the title Strange Houses.
Rodrigo Rojas is a poet, translator, former Fulbright Scholar at NYU´s graduate program in Creative Writing. In Chile, Editorial Cuarto Propio published his collection of poems, Desembocadura del Cielo (1996) and Sol de Acero (1999). Among other awards, he has recieved the Gabriela Mistral Poetry Prize and the Pablo Neruda Writing Fellowship. He currently teaches in the undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago.
Idra Novey's poetry and translations have appeared in various journals, including Washington Square, Circumference, Poetry International, The Literary Review, and Rattapallax. A recent recipient of a grant from the PEN Translation Fund, she is at work on a translated collection of poems by Brazilian writer Paulo Henriques Britto. Novey currently teaches writing at Columbia University.
Anna Ross holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia University. She is the winner of the 2004 Poetry Prize from The GSU Review and has work appearing in The Paris Review and Southwest Review.
Nikolai Oleinikov (1898-1937) was a Russian poet associated with the OBERIU group, which included Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky. Oleinikov came to Leningrad in 1925 to embark on a career in children's literature. In 1928 he invited the poets of OBERIU to write for his new children's magazine, The Hedgehog, where he performed the arduously double function of chief editor and hero of comic book. A master of practical jokes, toasts and improvisations, Oleinikov conceived of his poetry as “party poetry.” His many poetic personae included not only those of incorrigible womanizer, epicurean and moralist, but also those of natural scientist and mathematician. He was shot in 1937 after being tortured into admitting membership in a wholly spurious counter-revolutionary Trotskyite terrorist organization at the employ of Japanese intelligence services.
Jerome Rothenberg is the author of over seventy books of poetry, most recently, A Paradise of Poets and A Book of Witness (New Directions). Since 1989 he has been a professor of visual arts and literature at the University of California, San Diego. Jerome Rothenberg's first collection of writings on poetics, Pre-Faces (New Directions, 1982), received the American Book Award in 1982. He was elected to the World Academy of Poetry (UNESCO) in 2001. Carl Hancock Rux was selected by The New York Times Magazine as "One of 30 Artists Under The Age of 30 Most Likely To Influence Culture Over The Next 30 Years" (New York Times, 1994) and featured on the cover of The Village Voice as one of "Eight Writers on The Verge Of (Impacting) The Literary Landscape..." (Village Voice, June, 1998). New works include Rux’s sophomore recording project, Apothecary; Rx (Giant Step Records), and his novel, Asphalt (Simon & Schuster). His Obie award winning play Talk (TCG Press) is to be published later this year.
Regina O’Melveny is a writer, assemblage artist, and teacher who lives in southern California and whose work has appeared in Barrow Street, LA Weekly, Solo, and Wild Duck Review. Blue Wolves, a collection of her poems with reproductions of her assemblages, won the Bright Hill Press poetry book award in 1997.
Margert Ryan lives in New York City and teaches poetry in the 60-plus program of the 92nd St Y. Her work has appeared in The Nation, the Paris Review, Pivot, and Poetry.
Dael Orlandersmith, once with “Nuyorican Poets Cafe Live” and “Real Live Poetry” is an actor/playwright /poet living in New York. Her play 'Yellowman' was a finalist for the Pulitzer and her new play 'Raw Boys' opened in Philadelphia at the Wilma Theatre on March 2, 2005.
Second2Last recently released their new album, Babble On. The members include Johny Lashley, Bade Francis, Brian Polite and Aisha Bell. This musical quad tackles complex social issues and delivers soul with strong conviction, providing an unexpected blend of conscious-raising words and beats.
Holly Posner received her MA in French from Columbia University and MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was editor of the graduate literary journal Lumina. She is the author of Explorations in American Culture (Heinle & Heinle, 1994) and has taught writing at The New School, Hunter College, and New York University.
Daniel Shapiro is author of The Red Handkerchief and Other Poems (unpublished) and translator of Cipango, by Tomás Harris. The American Poetry Review (Sept./Oct. 1997) presented a selection of these translations as the cover feature. Others have been published in BOMB, Chelsea, Grand Street, and other journals. His poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Confrontation, and Poetry Northwest. Shapiro is Director of Literature and Managing Editor of Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas at the Americas Society (NYC). He received a 2003 NEA fellowship to complete the translation of Cipango.
María Soledad Quiroga is a sociologist, writer, and current Minister of Education of Bolivia. She´s published many poetry sades, among them Ciudad blanca (1993), Recuento del agua (1995) and Los muros del claustro (2004).
Lisa Simmons is a graduate of New York University. She lives in New York City. F.D. Reeve most recently published The Moon and Other Failures (1999, Michigan State University Press). His honors include the New England Poetry Society’s Golden Rose award and an award in literature from the American Academy National Institute of Arts and Letters. The Return of the Blue Cat will be released in 2005 by Other Press.
The artist/writer Christopher Stackhouse is a poetry editor for Fence Magazine and a Cave Canem Fellow. His writing has appeared in the Swerve, Fence, nocturnes (re)view of literary arts, Hambone, and Aufgabe among others.
... Lamont B. Steptoe is a poet, photographer, Vietnam veteran, and publisher of Whirlwind Press. He is author of eight books of poetry including In the Kitchens of the Master, Mad Minute, Uncle's South Sea China Blue Nightmare, and working on a collection of interviews with Dennis Brutus. Margo Stever’s first collection of poetry, Frozen Spring, won the 2001 MidList Press First Series Award for Poetry. She was founder and is a board member of the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center and is founder and co-editor of the Center’s imprint, Slapering Hol Press. Caroline Strelitz is an undergrad at the University of Georgia. As a major in Spanish, she decided to study abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she participated in the literary translation workshop at Universidad Diego Portales.
... film won both the Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Camera D'Or and introduced Williams and his own spoken-word poetry to international audiences. It also garnered him the I.F.P. Gotham Film Project's "Perry Ellis Award" for Breakout Performance. Other films have included the documentaries Underground Voices and SlamNation and the PBS television documentary, I'll Make Me a World. His CDs include Amethyst Rock Star and most recently a self-titled CD. Raúl Zurita has published several books including Purgatorio (1979), Anteparaíso (1982), El paraíso está vacío (1984), El amor de Chile (1987), Canto de los ríos que se aman (1993) and La vida nueva (1994). He is the poet laureate of Chile. SOUTH AFRICA
Virgil Suárez was born in Havana and arrived in the U.S. at the age of twelve. He received an MFA from Louisiana State University and now teaches at Florida State University. His poetry collections include Palm Crows (University of Arizona Press), Banyan (LSU Press), and Guide to the Blue Tongue (University of Illinois Press). He is co-editor of the anthologies American Diaspora: Poetry of Displacement, Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America, and Vespers: Poetry of Spirituality, all from the University of Illinois Press. Terese Svoboda’s fourth book of poetry, Treason, was published in 2002 by Zoo Press. Her work has appeared in Atlantic, The New Yorker, Slate, Volt, and other magazines. Todd Swift is poetry editor of Nthposition.com and contributing editor of Matrix Magazine. Swift's own poetry has been collected in three criticallyacclaimed collections, Budavox (1999), Café Alibi (2002) and Rue du Regard (2004). He co-edited Poetry Nation and Short Fuse, both anthologies on fusion poetry. Terre Thaemlitz is a multi-media producer, writer, public speaker, educator, audio remixer, DJ and owner of the Comatonse Recordings record label. His work critically combines themes of identity politics — including gender, transgenderism, sexuality, class, linguistics, ethnicity and race — with an ongoing critique of the socio-economics of commercial media production. He currently resides in Kawasaki, Japan. Bruno Tolentino, born in Rio de Janeiro, has lived for 30 years in Europe, mainly in England (Oxford). His books include Anulação e Outros Reparos, Memórias do Cárcere, As Horas de Catarina, and O Mundo como Idéia, a collection of poems written between 1959-1999, awarded with Prêmio Jabuti. Andrew Varnon’s poetry has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Conduit, The Nation, and Pleiades. In 2002 he won the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize and read at the 92nd Street Y in New York. He works as a reporter for a daily newspaper, The Recorder, in Greenfield, Mass. Micheliny Verunschk is the author of Geografia Íntima do Deserto (2003) and O Observador e o Nada (2003), which was nominated for the literary prize Portugal Telecom. Verónica Watt is an undergraduate student at Universidad Diego Portales, Chile. As part of her minor in creative writing, she participated in the Literary Translation Workshop. Saul Williams has a Master's Degree at New York University in Acting and found himself at the epicenter of the New York cafe poetry scene. In 1996 he became the Nuyorican Poet Cafe's Grand Slam Champion. His fame on the spoken-word circuit led to the lead role in the 1998 feature film, SLAM. The
Robert Berold was born in 1948 in Johannesburg and has lived for the last 20 years in the Eastern Cape. He is the author of three books of poems: The Door to the River (Bateleur, 1984), The Fires of the Dead (Carrefour, 1989) and Rain Across a Paper Field (Gecko Poetry, 1999). He edited the poetry journal, New Coin, publishing much of the groundbreaking new poetry being written in South Africa in the 1990s. His anthology from New Coin was published in 2002 as It All Begins: poems from postliberation South Africa, and followed in 2003 by a compilation of interviews. Vonani Bila was born in 1972. He is the founder and editor of the poetry journal Timbila and directs the Timbila Poetry Project in Limpopo province. He works as the co-ordinator of the Limpopo NGO Coalition and edits the newspaper Community Gazette and has written eight story books in English and Xitsonga. A native of South Africa, Breyten Breytenbach is a distinguished painter, activist and writer of more than 30 books of poetry. In addition, he has authored numerous novels, short story compilations, essays and dramatic works. A committed opponent of apartheid, Professor Breytenbach established the resistance group "Okhela" for which he wrote the platform. From 1975- 1982, he was a political prisoner serving two terms of solitary confinement in South African prisons. His most renowned work is the four-volume memoir of this odyssey. A Season in Paradise (1973), The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist (1983), Return to Paradise (1991), and Dog Heart: A Memoir (1999) have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He has been honored with numerous literary and art awards, including the APB Prize, CAN Award (five times) Allan Paton Award for Literature, Rapport Prize, Hertzog Prize, Reina Prinsen-Geerling Prize, Van der Hoogt Prize, Jan Campert Award and Jacobus van Looy Prize for Literature and Art. Dennis Brutus was born in what is now Harare, Zimbabwe to South African parents. As an activist against apartheid he was outspoken, especially in the field of sport during the 1950's and 1960's when he was President of SANROC (South Africa Non-racial Olympic Committee). His outspokenness resulted in the exclusion of SA from international sports causing him to be banned and later arrested. After escaping, while on bail, he was re-arrested, but when he once again attempted to escape he was shot in the back. Brutus was then sentenced to 18 months hard labour on Robben Island, where he served his time in the same section with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Govan Mbeki. He left South Africa in 1966 and for a while made his home in England before moving to America. He is currently professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While in prison his first collection of poems, Sirens, Knuckles & Boots was published in Nigeria by the Mbari Press. He was "officially unbanned" in 1990 and began to revisit SA. He still has a deep concern and remains actively involved in the struggles of human and cultural rights.
Alan Finlay used to publish the literary magazine Bleksem and founded the online literary magazine donga. His own published collections of poetry include Burning Aloes (Dye Hard, 1994), No Free Sleeping (Botsotso Publishers, 1998), and The Red Laughter Of Guns In Green Summer Rain (Dye Hard Press, 2002). He lives in Johannesburg with his family.
Arja Salafranca was born in Spain in 1971, but lived in South Africa since the age of five. Her first poetry collection, A Life Stripped of Illusions, received the 1994 Sanlam Award for poetry. Her second collection of poetry, The Fire in Which We Burn, was published in 2000. She edits the "Sunday Life" supplement in The Sunday Independent.
Allan Kolski Horwitz was born in Vryburg in 1952. He works for a social housing association and member-controlled provident fund. His fiction has been included in two collections, Unity in Flight (2001) and Un/Common Ground (2002). His first book of poems Call from the Free State, was published in 1979. His poetry was included in Essential Things (COSAW, 1992) and Throbbing Ink (Timbila, 2003).
Kelwyn Sole was born in Johannesburg in 1951. He was educated at the University of London, obtaining his doctorate with a study of the ideology, culture and prose of the South African Black Consciousness Movement of the 1970's. He was deported from Namibia for political reasons by the South African Government in 1980. At present he is an Associate Professor in the English Department of the University of Cape Town, where he teaches contemporary South African fiction and poetry, 17th Century English poetry and African orature. Sole’s poetry has won the Olive Schreiner and Sydney Clouts Prizes.
Mbongeni Khumalo was born in Pimville, Soweto in 1976. Khumalo is the author of a poetry collection, Apocrypha (Timbila Poetry Project & Bila Publishers, 2003), as well as the co-author of Throbbing Ink (Timbila Poetry Project, 2003). Bernat Kruger is a poet living in Delmas. Kgafela oa Magogodi is writing a PhD thesis which is provisionally entitled TALKING B(L)ACK: Black Images in the Making of Black Cinema in South Africa. He teaches film, theatre, and performance in Africa at the School of Dramatic Art at the University of the Witwatersrand. His newly-released book Thy Condom Come is published by New Leaf, an imprint of Thela Thesis. Mzi Mahola was born as Mzikayise Winston Mahola in 1949. The Special Branch confiscated his first poetry manuscript in 1976 and he lost interest in writing for twelve years. He eventually wrote his first collection, Strange Things, which was published in 1994 by Snail Press. His second volume, When Rain Comes, was published in 2000 by Carapace and won the Olive Schreiner Book prize. Lebogang M. Mashile (1979) was born to exiled South African parents in the United States, but came back home in 1994. She recently organised the Youth Empowerment and Networking Imbizo in Soweto. Mashile’s workbook, From Our Mothers Tongues, aims to showcase South African women’s poetry, as well as her own, to shed light on the true lives and struggles of South African women in their own words. Isabella Motadinyane was born in 1963 in Soweto and lived in Orange Farm before her untimely death in January 2003. She worked as an actor and performance poet and was a member of the Botsotso jesters poetry group and also served on the editorial board of Botsotso Publishing. Her poetry has been published in We Jive Like This and Dirty Washing. Ike Mboneni Muila was born in Soweto in 1957, and grew up in Venda, Limpopo Province, returning to live in Soweto in the 1980's. He studied acting at the Soyikwa Institute. Gova, a compilation of his poems and drawings (which includes a cd recording) has recently been published. Lesego Rampolokeng (1965) was born in Orlando West, Soweto, Johannesburg. He has published two volumes of poetry: Horns for Hondo and Talking Rain, and a CD/MS, End Beginnings, on which he performs his own work. He belongs to the "Children of Soweto" generation, and was part of the Black Consciousness Movement demonstrations against apartheid. Rampolokeng’s work reflects strong influences from Caribbean dub and the rap poetry, as well as elements from his native oral tradition.