About the Sea
The horizon is the concern here the
distance applying color the bright crackling
of surfaces of light and the spreading
of the light as it surges the sea
within its broad chest the putrid sludge
of the fishmeal factories the sea of romantic
fires on the gravel beaches travelers
now losing themselves forever
in a distant view the sea in the harbors, the docks
the container areas licking the sea
beneath cranes all heaving the
homesickness nightwards the sea of moray eels
lurking back behind a rock
the sea of the deep with a hidden image
for the dreams of the sea
that vanished in the sea bottomless
the trenches above it all a mosaic of flakes
streaming tough thick field of dirt the sea
that is so well concealed gasping for air within
its broad chest and snatching at
translation: Wieland Hoban
we had thaws in the brighter hours
we knew no cold only the ladders
led … Read More »
translated by Qiaomei Tang
I traveled through the South Land
A longing face blooms and fades like the lotus flower with the seasons
The east wind is yet to arrive, the willow’s March catkins are waiting to fly
your heart is like the small, lonely, walled city
like an alley of blue-green cobbles facing the setting sun
the crickets are not crying, the windows are drawn in March
The hooves of my horse clatter — it’s a beautiful mistake
I’m not coming home, I’m only passing through
READ THIS IN CHINESE
Image: Zhang Daqian, Sceneries of Jiangnan
There was an old person whose zeal
Made him bug-eyed and tense at the wheel.
He wasn’t much fun, and they said he was un-
representative of their ideal.
There was an old man from Sichuan,
Who directed the kids on his lawn.
He was rather aloof, and would sit on the roof,
And descend only when they had gone.
There was a young person named Wheeler,
Preserved in a jar of tequila.
“I’m a gnat! I’m a gnat!” was the comment of that
Hymenopterous person named Wheeler.
There was a young man from St James,
Who consigned all his work to the flames.
When asked why he did it, he sadly admitted
It’s one of his dumb little games.
There was an old man from Seattle:
Four fifths of his life was a battle.
He argued and … Read More »
The Problem with Travel
Every time I’m in an airport,
I think I should drastically
change my life: Kill the kid stuff,
start to act my numbers, set fire
to the clutter and creep below
the radar like an escaped canine
sneaking along the fence line.
I’d be cable-knitted to the hilt,
beautiful beyond buying, believe
in the maker and fix my problems
with prayer and property.
Then, I think of you, home
with the dog, the field full
of purple pop-ups—we’re small
and flawed, but I want to be
who I am, going where
I’m going, all over again.
* * *
Accident Report in the Tall, Tall Weeds
My ex got hit by a bus.
He wrote me in a text to tell me this.
____Now will you talk to me? I got hit by a bus.
He even sent me a link to the blurry footage on the news.
I never wanted to see him come … Read More »
BERGMAN’S SUMMER WITH MONIKA
At work, she’s a game
guys play between loading boxes,
her home, cramped, noisy.
She and her lover sail
under a high arch
into an archipelago,
a match blown out.
Food gone, she returns
to the mainland
with child. To the dark.
she looks for men.
Sun, jailed in snow–
others raise her daughter.
MOONFLOWER ON THE PORCH
I dream I’m with another man.
Who I meet in the Boscov’s
on a bubblegum-colored couch.
I say I already have a guy. He says
so what? Startled, I wake up,
you still sleeping. Life
gets normal again. Cats. Coffee.
The Dave Clark Five a needle drop away.
A late summer moonflower’s
ghost on the porch.
PESSOA MEETS WHITMAN ON HEAVEN’S PATIO
Good evening, friend. How long
have you been here? Over 100 years?
I understand you. And
misunderstand as much.
Didn’t we sleep together once,
share a dream, ecstatic,
scary? I wanted it to return,
but you were revising in New Jersey.
Have you seen God yet?
I … Read More »
Image: “Hoy viernes 122″ by Sergio Jiménez. Curated by Marisa Espínola for Espacio en Blanco. (More)
YOU HAD GLITTER ON YOUR FINGERS
I can hug the old refrigerator before they take it away.
I can write that you had glitter on your fingers and that burning glitter smells like a fairy tale.
I can bite the cat’s tail.
I can bite my husband’s beard, because it is mine, because it is mine and tastes like fruit.
I can cry and say that I’m crying, and not feel embarrassed by my pink cheeks.
I can be sappy.
I can dance naked with the windows open.
I can paint each nail a different color.
I can clean the house only once a week.
I can refuse to read the news.
I can refuse to hear the planes.
I can refuse to feed the mosquitoes with my thick, viscous blood.
I can invent a lullaby for deaf children, the only thing missing is a voice, the only thing missing is a long … Read More »
IRISES AND GRASSHOPPER
Client in a house of courtesans, tableau
of masculine and feminine.
The irises lie back, languorous, dark pink
at the centers and lighter at limbs.
The grasshopper, in his armor, grips the green
blade. Proximity is ecstasy
enough. A homesick soldier will kneel
at any woman’s bed, to lose his mind beside
the nakedness of corolla and calyx.
After the woodblock print “Irises and Grasshopper”
by Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849, Japan
A CHILD’S NIGHTMARE OF GHOSTS
Because the young are so capable
of dying, unsure of what’s real in the world,
the territorial ghosts exploit them.
The torment is real. The mother lays
down her sewing needle
and watches the changing weather of her
child’s features. It is theater,
and weakness to look, before
waking him. The thrill of a fish wrestling
with a hook, from a balcony of boat.
After the woodblock print “A Child’s Nightmare of Ghosts”
by Kitagawa Utamaro, 1756-1806, Japan
Read More »
A GIRL AT CHRISTMAS
The choir that cannot die.
Fish and fennel. Snow. Christmas
tree, clover and pomegranate.
For all she’s gladdened: milk
which is love dreaming in one
hand; clefts of clementine stain
the other. They cannot die,
these tribal ornaments, coral
joy, battering ceramic, peach
bones. Scotch bonnet seeds.
She then belts her savage choir
and dances herself into a festival.
VERS DE SOCIÉTÉ
Some meager talk of Larkin
over quiche and pâté, olives
the proclaimed ragamuffin
picked at as though our lives;
circumspect, the neutral host
blanched at pills and diaphragm,
shook her clipped head of frost,
insist he please changed from
that cold brute, to where life
is modest, the islands, perhaps,
not this social phalanx;
but he answered, none too vexed:
that’s the drivel of some bitch;
a gulf caved into her face;
the champagne flattened to piss;
cardiac breath, no one flaked,
waiting for blood on the ice,
an extremity, voice rifted
on voice; burred, tender, polite
in one spur, like crisped pomfret
forked in the … Read More »
Translated by Victoria Lampard and Heather Cleary
From “Ultramarina,” a contemporary opera by Marcelo Lombardero, with music by Pablo Mainetti and a libretto by Edgardo Cozarinsky, based on his novel “El rufián moldavo” (Emecé 2004). “Ultramarina” premiered in “Hasta Trilce” in April 2014. The excerpt that follows is a play on tango kitsch sung by a prostitute named Perla.
A CLEAN SLATE
If I could spit out all the kisses
That tainted my young lips…
If I could wash away the scratch of
of all those god-forsaken sheets…
If I could wipe away the caresses
that consumed my skin, then I could love you.
Oh how I wish you were my first,
the one who lied to me a thousand times.
(Does it matter? It is a man’s way to lie
to a woman, and love her all the same),
How I wish you could see me as I once was,
and … Read More »