Letters

Original by Dan Pagis
Translated, from the Hebrew, by Shoshana Olidort

Father, do you remember how I discovered the letters? No? Many years after I’d immigrated to Israel, one evening, perhaps in ’63 or ’64, I came for a visit from Jerusalem and I found you organizing the closet on the kitchen porch, spraying the roaches. I helped you, gladly: here was a bridge that could get us across our long silences.

And that’s when the tattered suitcase that had stood on the upper shelf fell into my hands. It was nearly empty, just a small parcel of letters inside, letters with mother’s big, generous handwriting. I saw immediately from the stamps that they were all from 1934. There, on the spot, I sat myself down on a rung of the aluminum ladder, I believe, and I read them. I was flustered. Don’t pretend that you don’t understand. Before I immigrated to Israel, at least from the age of fifteen, when I got back from the camps and started to read novels again, in short, from then until that very evening I really thought all the stories about you and mother that grandmother had told me were a lie, and that it was only in order to spare me that she had told me that when you immigrated to Israel in 1934 you had intended to send for mother and me. They told me this, I thought, in order to hide from me the fact that you had abandoned us, perhaps for another woman, perhaps for some other adventure, and only after the war you regretted it, and located me and sent me a certificate. I was silent about it all through the years, but I dreamt about it. But all that they had told me was true — it’s all in the letters, as if mother had taken pity on me and sent them again, in order to relieve me of all these suspicions. All the letters testified to the fact that you really did wait for us, that you really did prepare everything for our arrival in ’34. For thirty years, the letters were in the suitcase. I asked if you would agree to give them to me, and immediately you said, “take, take, why not,” as though you didn’t understand their importance. And maybe you really didn’t understand. Now I’ll read them to you. Like a belated, perhaps even superfluous apology for those suspicions. You ask what I’m apologizing for. Are you trying to calm me down, or are you just playing dumb? It doesn’t suit an honorable dead man like yourself. In truth, I’m not apologizing whole-heartedly: you were guilty of this prolonged forgetfulness. It didn’t occur to you to show me the letters all these years because you simply forgot them. I’ll remind you. I’ll read them to you. This is my revenge. 

 

******

 

 

 

******

Translator’s Note: Many thanks to Jonathan Pagis for granting me permission to publish this translation, and to the Bialik Institute and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House. The original appears in DAN PAGIS: COLLECTED POEMS, Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House and the Bialik Institute, Jerusalem, 1991, p. 358

*

Dan Pagis (1930-1986), was among the most important modern Hebrew poets of the postwar era, and a preeminent scholar of medieval Hebrew poetry. Born in Bukovina, Romania, Pagis survived the Holocaust as a child. “Letters” comes from “Abba,” a series of prose poems that Pagis, who died prematurely of cancer, did not get to complete during his lifetime. These poems are addressed to Pagis’s father, who immigrated to Palestine in 1934, with plans to send for his wife and young son soon afterwards, plans that were altered by the sudden, unexpected passing of Pagis’s mother. During World War II, Pagis was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. In 1946, he arrived in Palestine, where he was reunited with his father, after more than a decade’s separation. 

Shoshana Olidort is a writer, translator and scholar, and the web editor for the Poetry Foundation. She is completing a PhD in Comparative Literature at Stanford University.

 

All Each Other’s Miracles

Translation of an oral transmission between a mother and daughter.
Originally narrated by Yanina Koubatski. Translated, from the Palestinian Arabic, by Reem Taşyakan

Chrisho, my daughter, I’m going to tell you about what happened to me, but this will be the only time I  go into any detail about it. It’s too hard for me to talk about. It feels too much like I’m reliving it when I  do. But I want you to know about my journey. 

Back in Warsaw, in September of 1939 when I was 14, my father was taken prisoner by the Soviets.  He’d been an official in the Polish government for years and was implicated because of that. 

In December of 1939, while I was in school one day, two Soviet military officers entered my classroom  and asked to see me and one of my classmates. My classmate’s father had been arrested in September  as well. We followed the officers into the hallway and they immediately marched us outside into the  cold. We trudged through some snow that led to their black sedan. They made us get inside. 

After a long ride in a terrible snowstorm, we came to a prison that had barbed wire above the gate and  all around the tops of the high stone walls. My classmate was taken in one direction and I was taken in  another. I was brought inside one of the buildings and left at the top of a dark staircase. The officer  who’d led me there instructed me to go down the stairs. Stepping carefully in the dark, I walked down  the stairs into a damp, dungeon-like room. Suddenly, fluorescent lights flickered on above me. I noticed  a figure in a jail cell huddled in a corner, his bony spine visible through the dingy white shirt he wore.  The figure turned his head slightly, his eyes blinking to adjust to the light. When he made out who I was,  he turned completely and spoke in a hoarse voice. When I heard him call out “Yasha,” I knew it was my father.  

In just a few months, he had lost so much weight. He was pale, his cheeks were sunken in, and his hair  was thinning. I rushed toward the door of the cell and we held each other’s hands through the bars. I  asked him when he’d be coming home. He didn’t answer me. He told me to take care of my stepmother  and stepsisters (as you know, my own mother died giving birth to me, so I was raised by my stepmother). 

I wanted to stay in that cold damp room forever, because I had a terrible feeling it was the last time I’d  ever see my father. I held his hands tightly, but then an officer rushed down the stairs to retrieve me.  The officer violently ripped me away from my father and I was forced to let go of his hands. I cried for him as I was pulled back up the stairs. My father stared at me with his hands reaching out toward me.  He was too weak to call out my name again, and tears were streaming down his face. 

I was brought back to the black sedan. It was cold and I was exhausted, so I fell asleep. When I woke  up, I saw that we had stopped at a rural train station. I was brought inside and lined up beside other  women and children huddled together closely, trying to keep warm. I recognized some faces from the neighborhood where I lived, but I didn’t see anyone from my family. Some people had suitcases with  them, but I had nothing with me.  

A train pulled into the station with a long line of freight cars that seemed to extend for hundreds of  kilometers. The officers standing nearby walked over and rolled open the metal doors to the freight  cars. They instructed us to get in wherever we would fit. Everyone was forced to leave their suitcases  behind. Everyone was too terrified to speak.

In the freight car with me, among many others, was a mother, her infant daughter, and her two older  children. The train left the station and we sat there in the dark and cold without any food or drink. The  infant cried so the mother breastfed her to keep her quiet. But days passed without food or drink. The  mother ran out of her own milk and after that the baby cried continuously for a very long time. When the crying finally stopped, we all fell asleep for a while. 

At some point along the journey, the train came to a stop. There was silence all around at first, but then  we heard footsteps approaching. The metal door rolled open. With some light shining into the car, we  could see that something terrible had happened. The infant, still in suckling position against her  mother’s breast, had turned completely blue. An officer speaking Russian gestured at the mother. We  couldn’t make out much of what he was saying. The mother began to sob, but wouldn’t look down at  the dead infant. The officer picked up a burlap sack from beside him on the ground, untied it, and dumped dry oats all over the floor of the car. Then, he yanked the dead infant away from the mother’s  breast and tossed it into the empty sack. The mother screamed inconsolably as the officer slammed the  door to the freight car. The train soon pulled away again. Later, we ate dry oats off the floor and tried  to sooth the mother, but it was hopeless. 

Chrisho, we were taken to a labor camp in Siberia. I was told just weeks after arriving there that my  father had died of starvation in his prison cell. I never found out what happened to my stepmother and  stepsisters. I stayed in the camp for almost six whole years. I worked in the fields in summer and knitted  blankets and sweaters in the winter. I cooked, cleaned, sorted and carried crops, and mended clothes.  We worked nonstop until our bodies were heavy with exhaustion, and we ate and slept only very little. 

You were born in that camp, Chrisho. I can’t tell you much about who your father was, but I can tell you  that your birth made me happier than anything that had ever happened in my life before. You were  born into loving arms and you were nurtured. Your arrival gave me a new reason to be alive. It helped  me survive the remainder of my time there, and it gave me the strength and courage to come here to  Palestine after we were released at the end of the war. I wanted better things for you, in a better place. 

Chrisho, always remember, your Palestinian baba is as much a father to you as he is to your younger  brothers and sisters. He loves you like a daughter. He gave us a both a home when we didn’t have one – when we didn’t have anything at all. Like your arrival into my life, his arrival was a miracle too. And  he feels the same way about us – that we’re his miracles. If truth be told, we’re all each other’s miracles.  

Palestine, 1947

******

Translator’s Note:

I was inspired to create a written record of this oral transmission—originally spoken in Palestinian Arabic dialect—to preserve my grandmother’s memory. I wanted to do so in English because it’s the language with which I’m most familiar. There’s no source document available for it because the content was transmitted orally and never audio recorded.

When I began working on it, I wondered if I was in a sense disrupting the natural state of the narrative because I was changing not only the language but also the form. The story remained strictly oral for decades and held tremendous value that way because the impromptu spoken word has a rawness and authenticity that cannot be fully represented in writing. Also, Palestinian dialect is normally reserved for the spoken rather than the written word. For those reasons, part of me wanted to just continue to pass it down orally. Then I realized that in another sense, recording it in a new language and format can be seen as continuing my grandmother’s legacy in a unique and fitting way. With displacement, individuals are forced to negotiate all kinds of changes. Variations in things like language and setting are characteristic of migrant journeys. If we believe that individuals can experience events in a language, then my grandmother likely witnessed these events “in Russian” while processing them “in Polish.” Then, she eventually transmitted them to her husband, children, and grandchildren in Arabic. These experiences took place in three different countries, on two different continents, and in three different languages. Now, from a fourth country, on a third continent, and in a fourth language—I’m creating this written record. Perhaps this process doesn’t disrupt the natural state of the narrative as much as it echoes and embodies it.

*

The speaker of this oral transmission was Reem’s maternal grandmother, Yanina Koubatski. She was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1925. In 1939, she was captured by Soviet forces and taken to a labor camp in Siberia where she remained until WWII ended in 1945. After being freed from the camp, she migrated to Palestine with her young daughter, Reem’s mother Christine, who had been born in the camp in 1944. Yanina then trained to be a nurse and began to work at a hospital in Bethlehem. At that hospital, she met a Palestinian man named Ibrahim who she eventually married and had six more children with. Ibrahim was the man Christine came to know as her father.

Reem Taşyakan is currently a second year PhD student in the UCSD Literature Department. In her research, she focuses on Arab-American literature, exploring orientalism, cultural translation, and representations of the Arab world and Arab culture in Arab-American fiction. Reem was born in the US but speaks Arabic and has traveled to several parts of the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to her other academic pursuits, Reem writes fiction and poetry, translates works from Arabic into English, and works as a TA in the Making of the Modern World program.

An Attempt at Jealousy

Original by Marina Tsvetaeva
Translated, from the Russian, by Aster Fialla & Lev Nikulin

How could you live with someone new?
Easily, huh? One row and – gone!
Like a shore that shrinks from view
How quick the memory sailed on

Of me, the island floating o’er
(Across the sky – not in the sea)!
Souls, oh Souls! You’re siblings more
Than lovers, all you’ll ever be!

How could you live with one that’s merely
Simple? Sans divinity?
Dethrone the queen so cavalierly?
Renounce your crown and sovereignty?

How could you live – or do you slack?
How could you shiver, sit or stand?
Your vapidness comes with a tax;
How could you pay it, beggar man?

“Enough! Your fits drive me insane –
I’ll rent a house away from here!”
How could you, with some random Jane –
My beloved, chosen dear!

Your diet’s cheap and full of grit –
When it turns stale, don’t dare lament…
How could you live with counterfeit –
You, who conquered Sinai then!

How could you live with someone strange,
So common? Is her rib dear, now?
Does Zeus’ shame, so like a rein
Not lash against your sorry brow?

How could you live – and are you healthy?
Sing out? Do you think you can?
When conscience ulcerates your belly,
How could you manage, beggar man?

How could you live with market wares, huh?
The tax you pay – how high’s the fee?
After marbled, grand Carrara,
How could you live with the debris

Of shoddy gypsum? (Carved of stone –
God – and shattered all to hell!)
How could you live with scraps alone –
You, who once knew Lilith well!

Could you say you’re truly merry
With this trinket? Cold to myths,
How could you keep this ordinary
Woman, wholly lacking sixth

Senses?…
Think hard: are you truly glad there?
No? A chasm without end –
How can you live, dear? Is it sadder,
Or the same as me with him?

 

******

Попытка ревности

Как живётся вам с другою, —
Проще ведь? — Удар весла! —
Линией береговою
Скоро ль память отошла

Обо мне, плавучем острове
(По́ небу — не по водам!)
Души, души! быть вам сёстрами,
Не любовницами — вам!

Как живётся вам с простою
Женщиною? Без божеств?
Государыню с престола
Свергши (с оного сошед),

Как живётся вам — хлопочется —
Ёжится? Встаётся — как?
С пошлиной бессмертной пошлости
Как справляетесь, бедняк?

«Судорог да перебоев —
Хватит! Дом себе найму».
Как живётся вам с любою —
Избранному моему!

Свойственнее и съедобнее —
Снедь? Приестся — не пеняй…
Как живётся вам с подобием —
Вам, поправшему Синай!

Как живётся вам с чужою,
Здешнею? Ребром — люба?
Стыд Зевесовой вожжою
Не охлёстывает лба?

Как живётся вам — здоровится —
Можется? Поётся — как?
С язвою бессмертной совести
Как справляетесь, бедняк?

Как живётся вам с товаром
Рыночным? Оброк — крутой?
После мраморов Каррары
Как живётся вам с трухой

Гипсовой? (Из глыбы высечен
Бог — и на́чисто разбит!)
Как живётся вам с сто-тысячной —
Вам, познавшему Лилит!

Рыночною новизною
Сыты ли? К волшбам остыв,
Как живётся вам с земною
Женщиною, бе́з шестых

Чувств?
‎Ну, за голову: счастливы?
Нет? В провале без глубин —
Как живётся, милый? Тяжче ли,
Так же ли, как мне с другим?

 

******
Translator’s Note:

This submission is an experiment in co-translation and co-creation across languages and skillsets, taking as its subject Tsvetaeva’s often-translated poem “An Attempt at Jealousy [Popytka revnosti].” To produce this piece, Lev provided a precise prose translation of the poem that Aster then versified to match the meter and rhyme scheme of the original; we then refined the text together to attempt to capture Tsvetaeva’s fine shades of meaning and high emotional drama.

We consider this collective approach especially well-suited to Tsvetaeva, who engaged in poetic exchange and translation herself. She established poetic connections with poets both dead (Pushkin) and living (Pasternak, Rilke), famously forging her blistering cycle “Girlfriend [Podruga]” after her tumultuous relationship with poet Sophia Parnok. She translated from languages she knew and others she did not (Polish, Yiddish, Spanish). As Tsvetaeva entered into poetic conversations with other poets, we have tried to do so with her and with the others who have tackled her work in general and this piece in particular. In this translation, we most prioritized the communication of the vicious, biting tone of the original, searching for an emotional throughline which would carry Tsvetaeva’s bitter and acerbic breakup poem to the reader across language and time period. 

*

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) is a monumental figure within Russian poetry, remembered for her layered and intricate wordplay, audacious explorations of the highs and lows of emotions and relationships, and more recently for her poetic experimentation with gender and sexuality. Born into a wealthy family, she started a career as a poet, witnessed the Russian Revolution of 1917, then later left the Soviet Union for Europe in 1922. In emigration, she lived in poverty but produced some of her finest work. In 1939, she returned to the USSR, where her family experienced hardship under Stalin’s regime; her daughter was arrested and her husband executed. She was evacuated in 1941 and died of suicide in Yelabuga, Tatar ASSR.

 

Aster Fialla (se/er) is a freelance illustrator, poet, and game developer in roughly that order. Check out samples of the former two at asterfialla.com and the latter at pieartsy.itch.io.

Lev Nikulin (he/they) is an academic specializing in horror, the Gothic, science fiction, genre studies, and LGBT studies in 19th and 20th century Russian literature and film. He currently works as a Postgraduate Research Associate and Lecturer at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University. Tsvetaeva’s The Swain [Molodets] is his favorite vampire story. Follow him at his website, levnikulin.com.

Pathology of Exile

Original by Paula Cucurella
Translated, from the Spanish, by Alaric López

Among my symptoms: the congenital need to be misunderstood
worsens the tendency to lose the thread.
But between you and me, América,
we’ve come to master the art of controlled hallucination
to normalize blindness,
like lovers,
even when I feel used by your language
and I get payback spitting your name in three initials
and you soothe me whispering last minute offers.

Via loudspeaker, América,
you sound so sweet.

And I forgive you everything, thanks to your excellent Internet connection
I stroll through your body, América, as if it were my bedroom
—the same damn eternal warmup routine—

[I’d prefer a punch in the face]

And what will we do about the bastard we make in my mouth?
Which of our surnames will we choose?
I’ll take any name you give me, querida
this tongue adores the taste of your skin.

 

******


Patología del Exilio


Entre los síntomas: la necesidad congénita de ser malentendida
acentúa la tendencia a perder el hilo.
Pero entre tú y yo, América,
hemos llegado a dominar el arte de la alucinación controlada
haber normalizado la ceguera,
como enamoradas,
aún cuando me siento utilizada por tu lenguaje
y me desquito escupiendo tu nombre en cuatro siglas
y tu me arrullas susurrándome ofertas de última hora.

Por altoparlante, América,
suenas tan dulce. 

Y te perdono todo por la excelente conexión a internet
me paseo por tu cuerpo, América, como si fuese mi dormitorio
—los mismos actos eternos de precalentamiento— 

[preferiría un puñetazo en la cara]

Y qué vamos a hacer del engendro que creamos en mi boca?
Cuál de los dos apellidos vamos a escoger?
aceptaré por nombre lo que me llames, querida
esta lengua adora el sabor de tu piel. 

 

******

Selections from Demasiada luz para hacer poesía (pub. 2020 Doble A Editores, Santiago, Chile), by Paula Cucurella, translated by Alaric López with permission from the author. 

*

Paula Cucurella is a philosopher, poet, and translator. Her poems have been published in Mexican poetry journals (Círculo de poesía, Revista Monolito, La Rabia del Axolote, and Revista Marcapiel) and in Revista Laboratorio (Chile). She is the literary translator of El Can de Kant by David Johnson (Metales Pesados, November 2018), El Mundo en Llamas by David Johnson (Pólvora Editorial, 2019) and co-translator of Bottles to the Sea (SUNY, 2014), and of poems by Rosa Alcalá and Eileen Miles. Her academic articles and literary essays are published in The New Centennial Review, Revista Laboratorio, Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, and Latino Studies. Her first theory book Nicanor Parra, Jacques Derrida, y la poesía en tiempos de censura: un ensayo is forthcoming from Pólvora Editorial (Chile, 2020). Los últimos inanes días (2020), her book of fragments and vignettes, is also now available as an electronic-only publication from Doble A Editores. Paula currently teaches in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP), USA.

Alaric López is a musician, songwriter, intermedia artist, poet, and literary translator. Since 2012, Alaric has recorded, released, and performed his music under the alias Monarcadia (available through his Bandcamp site monarcadia.bandcamp.com or via all major streaming platforms). He has had poems published in the Rio Grande Review, and has held multimedia performances around El Paso, TX, including at the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. Alaric is currently in the MFA Writing program at UCSD, where his work attempts to develop new poetic forms through multimedia experimentation, and intermedia forms that effectively blend his various interests and practices. He can be found on Instagram at @monarcadia.

Two Poems

Originals & Translations by Alyn Mare & Macs Chávez

 

dando la patita / arivaca, 2020

curve paw in trust
shaking yes i hold my own hand, will u hold mine too
we hold it together against crushing tedium, hugging drone

air force x borders x daily life x the tepid coffee

well here i have ur curve of paw, the brightest dog
a flash from your ass in the night i count every star
record levels of brightness, burn the notes
we go around the fire say our pronouns
@ the mome i am multiple people, kindly reaching for a treat.

affirmation, kneeling on diamonds, compressed ancestral memes
i am before u a rat, o beeb in mud i fester joyfully
among the barbs a pattern
shifting into testodragon-dog i run i fuck i offer my paw.

a weak wrist a flaccid dick, nothing to break. my opening, sickle, curve.

devour urself in me.
i take a delicate bite, aim for precision, savor the slow tear
strings of flower, separation, a lingering burn @ back of throat.

******

dando la patita / arivaca, 2020

patita curva en confianza
hago un trato estrechando mi mano, ¿la tomarías tú también?
resistimos al tedio aplastante, el drone que nos abraza

fuerza militar x fronteras x vida cotidiana x café tibio

tengo aquí la curva de tu patita, el perrito más brillante
un destello de tu culo en la noche cuento cada estrella
tomo notas de su brillo, las quemo
rodeamos el fuego decimos nuestros pronombres
me convierto en múltiples personas, alcanzando amablemente un premio.

afirmación, arrodillándome sobre diamantes, memes ancestrales comprimidos
frente a ti soy una rata, pfff me  r e v u e l c o  en el lodo
un prototipo entre las púas,
convirtiéndome en un perro-testodragón corro cojo doy la pata.

un gesto afeminado un pene flácido, nada que romper. mi abertura, guadania, curvatura.

devórate en mí.
pruebo delicadamente, la mordida precisa, saboreando el lento desgarre
fragmentos de flor, separación, la quemadura que persiste atrás de la garganta.

 

********************

 

notes for the poem / cholula, 2020

pulling at a thread emily says “the whole cloth”, grief you old shirt
in careful shreds i covet lazz’ tie dye my open-air closet
i unravel, spindle, walk.
it’s the soft white dog! comfort like forever.

how friends know where to take us. dreaming
wet chips, roasted grapes, thick sweating meat.
suck iron char thru fatty exterior, leaking teeth.

at lunch our external processes, laps in a small stone square.
ajo and we love it.
every gay leaves for the same shit.
“gay bar near me” but belonging, loneliness, i don’t know
summer of hate parting lips w cold brew.

your grandmother under your slow-handed circles,
how forgiveness works.
the pleasure of seeing you loved.

you want to fish, something fresh. “the fish is a poem”.
bud, thorn, “we are living in the rose”.

******

notas para el poema / cholula, 2020

tirando del hilo emily dice “la prenda entera”, el dolor una vieja playera
cuidando los trozos deseo el tie dye de Lazz mi closet al aire libre
me desenredo, me hilo, camino.
¡es el suave perro blanco! comodidad para siempre.

cómo les amigues saben a dónde llevarnos. soñando
totopos remojados, uvas rostizadas, carne gruesa sudada.
chupar el hierro carbonizado a través del exterior grasiento, dientes escurriendo.

en el almuerzo nuestros procesos externos, vueltas en un cuadrito de piedra.
ajo y lo amamos.
todes les gays se van por la misma mierda.
“bar gay cerca de mí” pero pertenecer, la soledad, no sé
verano del odio labios abiertos por el café frío.

tu abuela bajo los lentos círculos de tus manos,
cómo funciona el perdón.
el placer de verte amade.

quieres pescar, algo fresco. “el pez es un poema”.
brote, espina, “estamos viviendo en la rosa”.

******

Translator’s Note:

We met on Tinder. First it was hard to understand what each other was trying to say. Through poetry and exercises of pleasure, sex, food and the desert, we are weaving both languages into our own. Pausing to say it every way. We did it all together but Alyn wrote the poems in English and Macs translated them. 

Nos conocimos en Tinder. Al principio, era difícil entender lo que intentábamos decir. A través de la poesía y ejercicios de placer, sexo, comida y el desierto, estamos tejiendo los dos lenguajes en uno propio. Pausando para decirlo en todas las formas. Lo hicimos todo juntes pero Alyn escribió los poemas en inglés y Macs los tradujo.

*

macs, también conocide como majo chávez, es un artista y traductor de la ciudad de méxico. @ajoconeme
macs, also known as majo chávez, is an artist and translator from mexico city. @ajoconeme

alyn mare is a poet and dj in so-called tucson, az. their work has appeared in Occulum, Aired, and zine form forever at www.clubtheory.net.
alyn mare es poeta y dj en el así llamado tucson, az. su trabajo ha aparecido en Occulum, Aired y siempre en forma de zine en www.clubtheory.net.

 

Ligia

Original by Rosabetty Muñoz
Translated, from the Spanish, by Gavia Boyden

 

It’s about plotting the map, but it overflows.
Loved ones are left out.
The plain, in its entirety, is stingy;
the mountain range
a blurred grey line.

This is the task of focusing your vision.
An exercise prior to closure.
.
.
The first was my grandfather.
There is a caravan of grandfathers
buried in the Argentine pampas
(only one has in his pockets a folded
photo of his daughter in First Communion dress)

The crosses have long been erased
by the wind.

Although they split their love and left,
although the pieces were filled with mold,
they were the first.

In every family there is a hole in the photograph,
a chair behind the door,
knuckles white from so much clenching.
.
.
In the background of each day, there is a distant country.
It’s always the same
((although we know that it no longer exists))

 

A narrow alley with a roof of dappled
trees and trees populated by dark plumage,
maybe also a river,
or even better, hot springs,
before the total drought.

Erosion of meaning.
This body didn’t know it left behind
the world itself.
.
.
In the center of the beloved country
there is a kite.
While speaking,
they spread the closed wings of Chonchonas 

The kites were the most remembered,
says Ligia,
I returned in September and saw them
aloft.
They’re the dreams of the Chileans. 

But she forgot the cured thread. 

A fatherland is made by cutting the strings
tethering the colorful kites.
.
.
It is the women, mostly, who fall
into the madness of the revolution.
Mad in body, mad in mind.
The verb and the entire landscape of flesh
everything
at disposal. 

And, after the breakage,
they rebuild defenses,
establish camps
of refugees. 

Border skirting
burning travelers.

Hips are frames.
.
.
Again in Chile,
nothing is as it was then.
Just a small rectangle
of the country in one’s eyes,
a fragment of the canopy,
a detail of the keel.
.
.
Hostility of the high bars,
barbed wire, alarmed gates,
fast roads.
You return to the country
and find it torn open,
a throbbing slash.
Houses with their backs turned to the squares,
crouched on huge haunches,
in hidden courtyards.
Excessive reality of the streets.
.
.
The country was filled with sensible people.
Bars of broken glass bottles on the fences,
harsh demands for pay.
They talk about us,
about who we were.
It was better, they thought, to remove us from the future. 

I cry, too,
for I am a question mark,
for I am a doubt,
for my skeleton
has lost spine and marrow.

 

******

Ligia

Se trata de trazar el mapa, pero desborda.
Hay gente amada, que se queda fuera.
El plano completo es mezquino;
la cordillera, por ejemplo,
una línea borroneada en gris.
Este es el ejercicio de acercar la vista.
Un ejercicio previo al cierre.
.
.
El primero fue mi abuelo.
Hay una caravana de abuelos
enterrados en la pampa argentina
(sólo uno tiene en los bolsillos
la foto doblada de su hija
en vestido de Primera Comunión)
Las cruces se han borrado por efecto del viento.
Aunque partieron su amor en dos y se fueron
aunque las rebanadas se llenaron de moho,
ellos fueron los primeros.
En cada familia hay un hueco en la fotografía
una silla detrás de la puerta
los nudillos blancos de tanto apretar.
.
.
Hay un país remoto en el fondo de todos los días.
Siempre es el mismo
( (aunque sabemos que ya no existe)
Estrecho callejón sobrevolado por tordos
árboles y árboles poblados de plumaje oscuro
tal vez también un río,
más bien pozones, antes de la sequía total.

Erosión del significado.
Este cuerpo no sabía que dejaba atrás
el mundo propio.
En el centro del país amado
hay un volantín.
Mientras habla
se abren cierran alas
de chonchonas 

Los volantines eran lo más recordado
dice Ligia
volví en septiembre y los vi elevados.
Son los sueños de los chilenos
Pero ella olvida el hilo curado.
Se hace patria cortando los hilos
echando abajo los volantines de colores.
.
.
Son mujeres las que mayormente
caen en la locura de la revolución.
Locas de cuerpo locas de mente.
El verbo y el paisaje total de la carne
todo
a disposición. 

Y después de la fractura
reconstruyen defensas
establecen campos
de refugiados.
Borde bordeando
viajeras ardientes
caderas son cuadernas.
.
.
Recalados otra vez en Chile
nada es como entonces.
Entra sólo un pequeño rectángulo
del país en los ojos
un fragmento del velamen,
un detalle de la quilla.
.
.
Hostilidad de las altas rejas
alambres de púas portones alarmas
veloces carreteras.
Se vuelve al país
y lo encuentras abierto a todo lo largo
un tajo palpitante.
Casas de espaldas a las plazas
de ancas enormes agazapadas
en patios escondidos.
Excesiva realidad de las calles.
.
.
El país se llenó de gente sensata.
Rejas vidrios botellas quebradas sobre los cercos
duras exigencias de pago.
Hablan de nosotros,
de quiénes éramos.
Les ha parecido bueno sacarnos del futuro.
Lloro también porque soy una interrogación
una duda
porque mi hueserío
ha perdido columna y médula.

******

Rosabetty Muñoz grew up in Ancud and is a professor of Spanish at the Austral University of Chile. She published her first book of poems in 1981. Her poetry is characterized by reflecting southern Chile, dealing with gender issues, human relations, and making poetry a space of resistance.

Gavia Boyden is a poet and translator who lives in the San Juan Islands. She is a current high school student who has been studying Spanish for most of her life. Gavia appreciates translating image-driven poetry by Latin American poets in particular. Her own poetry can be found online and in various journals.

Pensamientos en español

The time is 3:14 AM, and now its 3:15 AM.

Mi Cumpleaños es el quince de marzo: 3/15.

I’m lying awake on my bed, though my eyes are closed by mind wanders and acts more awake than most afternoons. It’s one of those sleepless nights, ones with little movement and little rest. I am used to these by now, irregular nights have become a norm, it’s hard to trust fall into unconsciousness.

Tal vez si me esfuerzo a parar de pensar, si nada más pienso en nada, y mantengo mi mente en negro… My mind goes blank for a few minutes, it is a fake darkness, an attempt to cover sunlight with a thin curtain. As I lose interest, my bed becomes a river, then a rock, then the back of large feathered snake.

Si no paras no podrás dormir.

Pero ¿para qué quiero dormir?

¿Por qué razón te levantes en la mañana y trabajas?

Eso toca el meollo de la situación, la pregunta en cuestión, el estado de mentalidad sin dirigida posición. En mi cabeza tengo un entendimiento, un conocimiento del mundo afuera de mi cuerpo. Hecho y creado por experiencias vividas y acciones recontadas.

I open my eyes, just a little. And I see the white ceiling, to my left soft black curtains, and to my right a brown, wooden nightstand and then another bed with a snoring, sleeping mound of blankets. 

Son las tres y media de la madrugada y todavía no puedo dormir

O mejor dicho, no encuentro la motivación para dormir. 

Si dijera no tener la intención ni la incentiva para trabajar, me llamarán un flojo.

Me dirían vagabundo por vivir sin casa y sin propósito. Y de medida definitiva, lo fuera. Pero el punto de mi argumento y mi desconocimiento es: ¿por qué es tan importante mi trabajo? De no levantarme en la mañana, ponerme la ropa, lavarme los dientes, comer el desayuno (que, por si acaso, es la comida mas importante del día), e ir a una oficina para hacer lo que tenga que hacer, ¿se caería el universo? ¿Se quemarán los edificios y parará de haber comida para toda la gente del mundo? 

No creo que mi esfuerzo es tan importante o que tales cosas pasarían.

The room had become a fabrication and I could no longer distinguish between the corporeal and its reflection. I became aware of the ticking of the clock overlooking the room a top my head. Tick-Tock the Croc became my nemesis too, it was the scathing tether that tied me to reality.

En mi experiencia, cuando una máquina tiene un diente de rueda que es un poco despacio o que se rompe y para de trabajar como debiera, empieza a ser canceroso para el resto de la colección. 

Tomando eso en cuenta, mi falta de esfuerzo sería una infección para la sociedad capitalista. El sueño Norte Americano es del derecho al trabajo, el derecho de conseguir dinero, a desear más. Pero ¿qué pasa si eso ya no es mi sueño? ¿Si ya no es la meta de cual mi vista no se despega?

Earlier that day I had seen a homeless woman asking for money outside the McDonald’s next to my house. She looked into my eyes and asked me if there was anything I could spare. I gave her ten dollars and walked into the restaurant regretting, chastising myself for giving her too much.

That guilt still stayed with me in that bed, it erupted in me a violent fever, an unabated anger towards myself and my stupidity. Pero para que me enojaba? What had I done wrong? Es porque no me quede el dinero ha mi mismo, o porque yo quería ese dinero? Y si eso fue porque, como puedo ser tan egoísta?

Fui educado desde chico para ser egoísta, para proteger lo que es mío y lo que merece ser mío. Aprendí de mis papás, mis maestros, y mis amigos, las lecciones que me formaron al ser quien soy. And in reality perhaps I do enjoy monetary processions, the physical fruit of labor. Reflexionando a mis propios pensamientos y viéndome como objeto con acción y conciencia I’d go as far as to say that I enjoy the suffering of my fellow person. Es un placer oscuro del capitalista, nacido en un mundo capitalista, programado como capitalista, porque me recuerda que mi situación, tan pobre como es, es mejor que el del otro. The other is my rival.

Es un pensamiento cliché y oscuro, lo se. Pero tal son todas las ideas que tratan sobre la injusticia humana. La clase bourgeois ha hecho que estas ideas suenen ridículas, y tal vez solo un muchachx al punto de dormirse le pusiera interés a estas cosas. Pero la realidad es un mundo ineludible. El mundo existe no como proyección de nuestro entendimiento y conocimiento, sino es interpretado y dado sentido por nuestra conciencia. En esa manera nosotros damos definiciones a el universo a nuestro alrededor. Y cuando se ve ese mundo, tuviera uno que sacarse sus ojos o vender el alma para no poder ver el dolor de la gente y la injusticia causado por el progreso.

¿El progreso de que?

¿De un país?

¿De una ideología?

I begin to hear the chirping of birds outside alongside the sound of motors beginning to run. It must be close to five. I am so close to sleep that to open my eyes would be to waste the time I’ve spent.

Como un ejemplo tomemos la aplicación de las ideologías neoliberales, las que han arruinado a México y Latino America. México ha avanzando el nivel de tecnología y GDP inmensamente en las ultimas décadas, y eso es un orgullo tremendo para la gente. Pero lo que no se habla es sobre la pobreza, la rotas promesas, y la insignificancia del dinero a la definición de una persona. Es un nuevo tipo de colonialismo, uno que hasta el propio Cristóbal Colón se enorgullecería. En el que la gente es saciada por lo normal, y su labor es la única comodidad de valor.

Los países del Oeste se roban las materias primas de sus satélites y dejan a la gente con el sentimiento de enriquecimiento. Pero con los pagos de la luz, la renta, y la comida, parece ser que trabajamos nadamas para el derecho a sobrevivir. ¿Para que más existimos sino para darle mas fruto a la clase alta? Para regarles como un dios omnipotente que merecemos el derecho a vivir.

I turn to the left, towards the window. Slim glimmers of morning light begins to flow from the openings in the curtains. Dawn has moved in quickly and soon another sleepless night will have come and gone. The break of day will take its place.

Si tuviera valor cambiara al ingles, y hablaría sobre quemando edificios, obstruyendo carreteras, y protestas masivas que se volvieran alboroto publico e amotinamiento. Pero no soy valiente. Soy solamente un niño, tratando de dormir. Uso el español porque tengo miedo que si el gobierno Estado Unidense sabe leer mentes – que no me parase ser tan loca la idea – mi única protección fuera que tal vez no han encontrado una manera fija de traducir del español.

What was the point of staying up all night? To show to myself my cowardice. No me molestaría ser exiliado de aquí por pensamientos de traición, pero dudo que tal cosa pasara. Afuera del país no fuera muy útil yo para el gobierno capitalista. Siento que primamente me culparan de un crimen que no cometí, en esa menara me quitaran toda validad a mis ideas, pensamientos, y acciones. Fuera definido pero una acción e institución. Y trabajara por gratis para un tiempo muy largo como prisionero. En prisión fuera reeducado, reformado, por la misericordia de los valores monetarios y las reglas de moralidad religiosa – un miedo al dios gringo.

The sounds of birds chirping is unmistakable now, the sound of cars honking is much louder, and the rays of sun pierce into my eyes even as I have the eyelids closed.

What can I say?

I am tired.

I hear a knock at the door and I wait to see if anyone else will open it. But I hear no one moving to get up.

I am slow to sit up, but as I do I begin to realize the full extent of my thoughts. I am no longer in the realm between reflection and awareness. I have no evidence to prove what I have thought, I think while craning my back, giving myself a small time to stretch. All of this has no evidence what’s so over. I can not claim my thoughts as fact, fact is all that holds validity in our world.

I step on the floor. The carpet feels cold, and my head is light. I stand, walk to the door, and move my hand forward towards the door.

Los pensamientos en español se quedaran con migo, serán mi secreto, y los cultivare para un tiempo en que ya no tenga miedo y no suenen ridículo. Pero hasta ese entonces, serán parte de un sueño. I open the door, a flood of light rushes in, I use my hand to cover my eyes as I peer out to the outside.


Luis González I am currently a third year political science (public law) and ethnic studies double major working towards my Bachelor’s Degree at UC San Diego. My hometown is Temecula, in Southern California but I was born in San Jose, Northern California. Both my parents are from Tlacolula de Matamoros, in Oaxaca, Mexico. Even though I was born in the U.S. I spent the early years of my childhood in Mexico under the care of my parents and extended family. As a result I did not learn how to speak English well until my twilight years in US public Elementary School. My mother always made it a strong point that we learn to speak Spanish as perfectly as possible. But even though I spoke Spanish regularly at home, it was a rarity that I found time and opportunity to write or read in Spanish. I have felt firsthand, how the US uses public schools to force Spanish-speaking students to assimilate to US culture through language, making Spanish a matter of the private sphere and making English a ticket to the public sphere of market and upwards mobility. As a result, my linguistic Spanish skills were nurtured far less. Writing this piece was very difficult in that I had to start over many times and in the end decided to challenge myself by writing a piece that was mostly in Spanish. I used this piece as an exercise to prove to myself that I could express my ideas first through an understandable and aesthetic denotative way, and secondly able to compactly and effectively instill in my writing a connotation of greater meaning. In my piece I write about someone who attempts to fall asleep, but in this effort is caught up in search of their own opinion and understanding. It took me several days to try to understand what I wanted to convey and how the best way to convey that would be. Because all that I have ever read in Spanish can be reduced to just a couple bible verses, one or two books, and the occasional news article, my vocabulary was limited. I had to use Google to translate words, and to make sure I spelled words correctly that I had only spoken or heard of but had never seen in print. If I learned one thing from this experience it is how difficult it is to make sentences in Spanish both make sense and sound as cohesive and intelligible as in English. I really hope I get an opportunity to write in Spanish again, I will read and continue to write in both languages so I can improve the large areas of my writing ability that still need to improve.

From the Permian Basin to the Sound of Campeche

*

Oil boom. Farewell, boom.

The Permian basin has abruptly sinkholed a large chunk of caky earth in Wink, Texas. Gooey gold,

gooey eyes. It was in 1980, says the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG), when the basin, a large

thick grueso depósito de rocas—langbeinite, sylvite, halite, potash—had to finish some unfinished

business.

Last year the sheriff of Winkler County warned of two winking sinkholes expanding. If you come

here, I’ll arrest you. I don’t want to be here myself. Wink Sink #2 is killing it, trespassing the roads,

breaking the asphalt, stopping oil tanks, making the calicheros kalichear la zona, and angering the

sheriff who doesn’t want the curiosos to wonder if the hole can take you to China, Campeche or the

Bakken plateau of North Dakota.

Someone at the Bureau murmured in a paper that those sinkholes occurred because of some

extractions in the 30s.

Texastelegram1:

barren land rocks sedimentary basin piled anthracite depleted air salted water injected completed

action let decision makers know, wink wink.

Texastelegram2:

most prolific oil producing area in america. increase from 850,000 barrels per day (2007) to

1,350,000 (2013). best formations 4ever (justkidding oilisnot4ever): Spraberry, Wolfcamp, Bone

Spring, Glorieta, Yeso, and Delaware. highly productive. better than Gulf of Mexico. Full stop.

*

So far, the user elundetakergearsofwar has posted two videos on youtube, one titled “El Chupa se

cae” in which a dark-skinned Campeche boy is lightly pushed by an adult and falls

precipitosamente onto the ground, and starts rolling down the street. The palimphested asphalt

disintegrates into a hole of pixels as the boy seems to be unrolled from a large tongue of warm air: a

digital hole devoid of meaning until a boy falls inside for a second.

The other video “The Sad Life in the Oil Rigs of the Sound of Campeche, México” appears to be a

romantic one. It’s a show-and-tell of life and work. A set of texts such as always smile you never

know who is going to fall in love with your smile or live life fully because you are not coming out of

life alive, fill in the gaps between photographs. Apparent platitudes, these lines insinuate a story that

nobody can decipher, except that group of workers photographed in the blueness of the Gulf of

Mexico. Images of orange-overalled workers, men and women, eating, sitting, talking, posing.

Many love stories evolve and implode in the already dangerous Pemex oil rigs.

Workers can spend more than 20 days in the plateauforms.

¡Saludos a toda la banda plataformera de los akales, jupiter, safe regency, litoral, cantarell y

barcos!

The dormitories in the oil rig have six or seven beds, sometimes a bathroom, but usually the

workers have to walk a narrow corridor to get to one. At night, a warm body quickly jumps from the

top bed: a slight noise in the middle of the ocean, a tap, a small tepid wave of sound. An innocuous

wave: a woman’s body waking up above the Gulf of Mexico to pee, while a drill extracts thousands

of black liquid years from the ground.

A solitary wave has sent a message to his peers about not falling asleep while working, because it

can cost you the job, about not trusting the bosses, not falling for power and money, and a word of

caution about falling crazy in love with the guy or woman next to you.

*

i called José Gómez, inhabitant of Mexico City, to ask him about his days at the mineral. His father

and the entire family worked as miners in Tequila, Jalisco. He used to joke about playing with big

pieces of gold and silver the size of his head, the patrones trusted him so much, the little slave. He

was a black black, he said once, the only visible shining thing in his body the pieces of metal that he

tossed around outside the mine. He didn’t want to get sick as the others so he left for the capital. i

wanted to ask him more about that time, but he is 100 years old, and the only thing he could tell me

over the phone was that he remembered when i gave him dólares for his birthday—or dolores, as he

would joke. It is very hard not to see him as a repository of stories, as the result of so many policies

and historical circumstances, and it is very easy to forget his deeply machista view of the world.

*

How does an oil rig speak to the ocean? In the language of money, production, accumulation,

desire, in the language of capitalism and technology. It writes in the air with fire and spits on the

working and living bodies around it.

Is a machine a non-human entity or rather a human appendix for expanding his, not her, power? A

transducer, a translator of many fantasies.

Science is political, and science is corporate. Companies can sue countries.

A text may or may not do anything.

*

There’s a cumbia of the petrolero, in fact two. One is sung by children at schools, mainly in

Campeche, and tells the official and heroic story of the oil expropriation of 1938. Lázaro Cárdenas,

the president at that time, managed to kick out foreign companies from Mexico, and the oro negro

came back to the hands of the Mexican people, at that point the majority of whom lived and worked

in rural communities. In the social imaginary that moment represents a twofold retrofantasy: a

president stood up to foreign interests and Mexicans became the true “owners” of their economic

wealth.

They say that in order to be able to work for Pemex, the state owned company (almost not), you

need to have connections or you need to be the daughter or son of some high mando.

The other cumbia is more a laborcumbia. It talks about the everyday life of oil rig workers, orange

and red overalled workers, on a platform, in la sonda de Campeche. The theme’s music video was

actually shot by the workers themselves on the oil rig. It is a song about a hard and felt relationship

with a machine: an enormous structure of metal and salt.

 


Lorena Gómez Mostajo (Mexico City) is an editor, writer, and photographer. She studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recently, she founded Taller Salón, an independent publishing and printing house that serves the Tijuana-San Diego community.

On autotranslation: The tongue touches the paladar, the teeth, the lips; air comes out: a clasp, a noise, a sound that exists since childhood that gets twisted into a new one. When the tongue travels to perform the sounds of English, it traverses a field of random memories and images. For example, an English teacher in elementary school that gave candy away if the class pronounced “tree” and “three” well; the songs that, as kids, we pretended to understand and sing in a deformed English; hundreds of films; the political candidate who insisted that the future of success was learning “inglés y computación”; the security officers at airports and at the San Ysidro border; technology and its endless iterations; the promise that by way of speaking the “new esperanto,” one will be more connected to the advanced world.

I am enchanted by accents. By that sonorous declaration of having or having had another life somewhere else. The same way, when I write in English, the history of my intimacy with Spanish, created also by writing in it, gets to be transformed, revisited, altered. I twist my thoughts, the same way I twist my tongue, to find the rhythms that can have echoes in both languages.

 

El monstruo que me sigue

1 Nací de madre soltera,

Quien iba siempre con el corazón afuera,

Quien fue acusada de ser adultera,

Quien tenía los ojos glaseados de cera.

Amaba todo lo que no veía.

Proclamaba su amor cristiano a cualquiera en sus vías.

Ciega y cierta pasaba los días

Alabando a Dios y a la Virgen María.

2 Vino a su pueblo un hombre de, según decían, pelo rubio con canas,

De olor a manzana,

De tierra lejana

Y de lengua extraña.

En español de niño hablaba de sus capacidades milagrosas.

A todo volumen, describía sus actos de proeza con imperfecta prosa.

Sin embargo, demostraba que de la nada podían venir osos y mariposas

De modo que el pueblo, encantado, le creía cualquier cosa.

3 Aún con su fama,

El hombre carecía conciencia o alma.

Solo buscaba, de cualquier manera, llevarse una dama

A la cama.

Pues no vino

Solo para convertir agua en vino.

Pues compró sus poderes a precio vivo:

La vida suya o la de sus hijos.

4 Entonces, los más hijos que concibiera,

Lo más seguro que el hombre viviera .

De modo que nación a nación viajaba sin nombre

Seduciendo con su disfraz de prohombre.

Así fue como con promesas de visiones y sinestesia

Se llevó a mi madre a la iglesia

Y convirtiendo su aliento en anestesia

Le forzó un beso de amnesia.

5 La luz la encontró tirada en un colchón,

Vientre y mente llenas de repulsión,

Con la vista restaurada y entre sus piernas una comezón.

Supo que el pueblo sabría de lo acontecido al transcurrir su gestación.

Supo, por razones inexplicables,

Que el hombre me había dado de herencia una maldición palpable.

Todos los días que viviera, un monstruo invisible e implacable

Me seguiría y haría mi vida detestable.

6 Huyó en cuanto salió un bulto.

Ni familia ni amistad supo de su embarazo oculto.

Se fue para el Norte, donde creía que habría menos tumulto.

Entregando su corazón para que fuera sepulto.

Al nacer yo,

Solamente más se deprimió.

Todo lo que nos pasó

Ella me lo contó.

1 A los dos días de nacer, Guadalupe fui nombrada,

Aunque lo cristiano ya no dejaba a mi madre asombrada.

(Nombrada no nombrado, pues mi género asignado importa nada.)

Un pez no es un pescado, un pescado ya no nada.

Le daba placer vestirme con pantalones

Azules

Sobre olorosos pañales

Bajo camisas gules.

2 Yo lloraba.

Me cargaba

Pero si no paraba

Se encontraba

Odiando

El día cuando el hombre ingrato

Le quitó, sobre su vida, el mando.

3 Mi primer año fue uno en el cual mi madre dormía y comía poco.

El monstruo me seguía como la luz sigue focos.

Cuando yo tenía un mes de nacida, mi madre creyó ver una cara parecida a coco

Sobre mi cuna mientras se me escurrían los mocos.

Y cuando tenía tres meses, me dio una fiebre intensa.

Que se fue solo cuando mi madre concedió a la medicina moderna.

Y cuando tenía seis meses, encontró rasguños en mis tiernas

Piernas.

4 A los nueve meses la levantaba con aullidos

Y chillidos

Y dada la frecuencia de mis gemidos,

A mi madre le dieron despido.

Cuando acabó el año,

Precisamente en el día de mi cumpleaños,

Mientras mi madre me daba un baño,

El monstruo por poco me arrastró al soterraño.

5 El monstruo nunca me dejaba en paz; cuando yo tenía dos años, mi madre se puso histérica

Al no poder encontrarme en el apartamento durante una tempestad atmosférica.

Solo al contemplar la lluvia colérica,

Me vio afuera al borde de cadavérica.

Nunca me dejaba en paz; a los tres años, mi primera memoria,

Al salir de la carnicería Gloria,

Sentí detrás de la cabeza una sensación vibratoria

Que me hizo caer y tirar las zanahorias.

6 Desperté en cama mía.

Sentía

Que mi cara se hundía.

Sentada a mi lado, mi madre sonreía.

– Ahora te diré hijo mío porque el monstruo te sigue.-

Me reveló que mi maldición de mi padre prosigue.

-Si piensas en el monstruo, más rápido te persigue.

Piensa en no pensar, aunque te fatigue.-

1 El monstruo nunca paró de subyugarme, pues el pensar en no pensar todavía es pensamiento.

Aunque no pude verlo en nuestros enfrentamientos

Sus palizas me dejaban sin aliento.

At times when I slept, creía oírlo dar ahuyento.

A veces lo sentía lejano, como la primera vez

A los diez

Que modelé los tacones,

De mi madre, color nuez.

2 Yet more often I felt it close, like the time I was thirteen

And I wore a dress green

And clean

That on me no one had yet seen.

All I did was walk once around the park

When suddenly a group of boys had me as their mark.

They bit and they tackled and they grinded my face on bark

And after they were done, the beating was taken over by the monster, my birthmark.

3 Other times it lingered, present but not as present as it could be,

Such as the time when I was twenty

And drunkenly

Delineated dashes around my dick with Sharpie

With murky intentions to utilize

A pair of scissors to incise.

However, all I did was cry into my thighs.

Never made a cut to its surprise.

4 Yet now I find myself here, locked behind a pantry door

Terrified, since outside, the monster roars.

It trailed me home from my walk from the store

And, once inside, began flinging the decor.

It has never shown such prolonged might;

It has been pounding at the door since well past midnight.

I am relieved that so far the door hinges have held tight

But I know here I will die and here it will smite.

5 Away it hacks.

The wood cracks.

Soon it will reach the climax

Of all its violent acts.

I know this is my last, so why not a prayer?

God, if you’re there,

Fuck yourself and take care.

Its expirations moisten my leg hairs.

6 Ha entrado; I think I feel sus colmillos

Scraping against my tobillos.

Mis piernas están pintadas por un líquido amarillo.

Escucho que de su garganta provienen sonidos like a million grillos.

I

Cry.

I

Die.


Mi nombre es Raúl Alberto Escareño Cortés, pero prefiero que personas me llamen Beto. Nací en

Sacramento, California de padres mexicanos. A temprana edad fui inscrito en escuela bilingüe donde

aprendí materias en español e inglés. However, when I entered high school, my Spanish suffered from

lack of practice other than at home, común para hijos de inmigrantes. This abrupt change in language

has made my brain work differently: I do not simply speak, read, and write English when I speak, read,

and write English; rather I speak, read, and write English with Spanish influence. Cuando hablo, leo y

escribo español, hablo, leo y escribo español con influencia inglesa.

The building

IMG_1240

Rebecca Seaberry

1

Once upon a time it was imposible to wonder.

Once upon a time a city, another city, every space that’s known as a city and what they hold inside

their guts.

Once upon a time the tar, the concrete, the noise, the windows facing nowhere.

Once upon a time a buildings and streets complex, the kind of anarchic government that rules it,

the dense and numerous population inhabiting it, busy with their own most important occupations.

And You. And Him.

What are two men living in the same building?

What are two men living

What are two men

What are

What

What are two men?

Two male sexed human beings

What is the male inside the human body?

What is the male sexed body?

What is

What

What is sex?

2

Once upon a time You had your own name.

A proper noun, they call them.

A proper noun is the special word that we use for a person, place or organization, like John, Marie,

London, France or Sony. A name is a noun, but a very special noun – a proper noun. Proper nouns

have special rules.

Once upon a time walking meant walking towards You. Towards a proper noun with special rules

but without a metaphor. Tramping around the small section of the city that kept my body away from

the place that you called home.

A building.

A last floor.

And You.

It was around these days when I started to walk around the same path everyday. Looking for

reasons not to go there. Not to get there. Not to go up. Thinking about the other girls up and down

the elevator.

A building

A last floor.

And Him.

An older man who wasn’t You, who wouldn’t take off his sunglasses while in front of a camera with

who he discussed his job.

A job around, through and about the body.

A job from flesh to flesh.

In front of the camera.

A video camera is a device that captures images by converting them into electrical signals, in most

cases turning them into video signal, also known as television signal.

In other words, a video camera is an optical transducer.

3

Once upon a time Him, an older man, spoke about a world unbeknownst to me. About the control

that happens when a body above another body. About the flesh we are and the flesh we desire.

About the flesh we are and the flesh we’ll become. About the flesh we are and the flesh we

consume.

A carnivore, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “An animal that feeds on flesh.”

In front of the camera Him, who wasn’t really You but could have been, spoke about desire and

capitalism while actually speaking about the videos in which flesh against flesh, flesh rubbing flesh

penetrating flesh pushing flesh consuming flesh feeding on flesh devouring the flesh.

I’ve heard that what hurts of love it’s not love itself. What hurts about love, they say, is not what

they taught us when we were children. What hurts about love, I heard, is the language in which

love develops.

If I have learnt my lesson right.

Still, it takes us one conversation to learn that what hurts of love stops hurting from that darkened

place called lust. Or so I heard.

That’s why some of the us prefer the possibilities held inside our bodies.

That’s the reason why Him understood the organic relationship between money and flesh.

A body is a body is a body is a body.

A body is also profit.

Sex, as cinematography and love, exists inside its own language.

A video camera is an optical transducer.

I’m proud of turning regular girls into porn stars.

Eyes are also made of edible flesh.

A body is a body is a body is a body.

A body is also an optical transducer.

A body is also a translator.

A body is also a credit card number.

4

Once upon a time that older man lived in the same building that made You appear the first time.

What are two men living in the same building?

That’s why I have already crossed the threshold one first time far before meeting You.

What is the male sexed body?

That was also the first time I learnt what flesh means through a lens.

What is sex?

Very few things prepare you for life as the notion that you can go body shopping.

What is love?

Flesh collapsing. A close up.

The sound that befalls penetration. The click of the tongue. The percentage of water loss. The

percentage of water exchange.

The consuming.

What is a camera?

The process of running camcorders begins with the decomposition of light from three components

(red, green and blue) through a prism of dichroic mirrors. On the other side of the prism are

sensors, which reconstruct the image and forwarded to the circuits preamplifiers.

What is pornography?

Cameras, as the body itself, are built with a gap to allow light coming through.


 

MarieJo Delgadillo is a Mexican journalist and multidisciplinary artist. Having worked for over six years interviewing artists, politicians and everyday people to find out about them, and publishing in newspapers and magazines both nationally and internationally, she is now expanding her own creative work. Currently interested in finding ways poetry and journalistic investigation can work together, exploring topics as pornography, fashion, capitalism and the idea of the body as a commodity. She is also a dance instructor. Her literary work in spanish can be read athttps://mariejodelgadillo.wordpress.com/ and she tweets as @MarieJoDel.