“The Visit” and other poems – Adelaide Ivánova

We post here four poems by Adelaide Ivánova, out of her début collection O Martelo (“The Hammer“), translated from the Portuguese by Chris Daniels. The volume was originally published in Portugal in 2016 on Douda Correria, and was recently released in Brazil by Editora Garupa.

Four poems by Adelaide Ivánova
translated from the Portuguese by Chris Daniels

the visit

how many moths
spiders lice
and other beasts
infest inhabit
the visitor’s mattress
Humboldt never went to get
faking forgetfulness
after it was too late
and we were way too
in love to go get
the visitor’s mattress
in the garret
so we made do with this

how many moths
spiders lice
and other beasts
in another accursed
mattress they witnessed
another mattress
another visit
the quick start
the violence
the blood
good blood no
there was arrival
and then silence

because of sand web dust
moss mold spider
i jumped to the other
bed other beasts
before had inhabited me
already ants
mites pisceans
fleas only
moths and Humboldt
didn’t screw me

years before the curse
though sand web dust
i could never again
leave that bed
there are beasts less trustworthy
than moths there’s the hyena
fish snake scabies
if there are 2 on the mattress
for 1 visitor there will
always be one who is not
innocent.
§

the cat

the official didn’t take me seriously
in the least and she asked me all slick
did i really want to open
an investigation she was wearing a
wonderfully awful outfit
pants and blouse
jeans on jeans
after reading through the papers
the official made me think of janus
the roman king with two faces and
the cat with two faces who
died at 15 it’s rare
for a cat like that to live so long
yet the official lives on in her little outfit
jeans on janus.

§

the sow

the clerk is a person
and she’s curious just
like all persons are curious
she asks me why i drank so
much i don’t answer but i
know people drink to die
only not to die a lot
she asks me why didn’t i
scream since i wasn’t
gagged i don’t answer but i know
we’re all born with the gag
the clerk in her starched
white shirt
is an excellent officer and
typist she reminds me so much
of a song
of an animal i can’t remember which.

§

the vulture

corpus delicti is
the expression used
when law is breached and
traces of the fact of a crime
are left making the body a
place and of the crime an
adjective the examination
consists of seeing and being
seen (parties also
consist of these)

lying on a gurney with
four doctors around me talking
about mucous membranes the strike
the lack of disposable cups
and deciding in front of my open
legs if after work should they
all go to the bar or what?
the doctor from the institute
of legal medicine wrote his report
not looking at my face
talking on his cell phone

me and the doctor have a body
and at least two other things in common:
we both love talking on the phone
and going to the bar
the doctor is a person
he deals with dead men
and living women
(he calls them pieces of
evidence).

§

Adelaide Ivánova (b. 1982 in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil) is a Brazilian journalist, photographer, writer, and translator. Her first two books are autonomy (São Paulo, Pingado-Prés, 2014), and Polaróides (Recife, Césarea, 2014). Her work has been shown in Brazil, Argentina, the US, Germany, France, and Spain, and is in the collections of L’arthotèque (Brest, France) and Kunst Dieselkraftwerk (Cottbus, Germany). Her writing, translations, and photographs have been published in journals like i-D (UK), Colors (Italy), The Huffington Post (US), Modo de Usar & Co. (Brazil), Suplemento Pernambuco (Brazil), Der Greif (Germany), Vogue and Marie Claire (Brazil), Ojo de Pez (Spain), and Vision (China), among others. She lives and works between Cologne and Berlin.

“Conakry” (2013) – a video by Filipa César with Grada Kilomba & Diana McCarty


“Conakry” (2013), 10’20”, original languages: English and Portuguese. Directed by Filipa César. Written and Performed by Grada Kilomba and Diana McCarty.

“Conakry” is a homage to Amílcar Cabral. This poetic cinematographic essay is a single shot 16mm film staged at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, in Berlin, and based on archival images of the liberation struggle in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, against portuguese colonization. Directed by Filipa César, written and performed by Grada Kilomba and Diana McCarty, “Conakry” reflects on Amílcar Cabral and the importance of film archive in a post-liberation African world.

The focus is on the documentary film reel of a particular event, shot by Flora Gomes, Sana Na N’Hada, Josefina Crato and José Columba Bolama – “The Week of Information” hosted in Conakry, at the Palais du People, in 1972, during the liberation struggle, where Amílcar Cabral curates an exhibition on the state of the war against Portuguese domination. McCarty narrates as a radio host explaining the events as the camera moves through the building to find Kilomba, who relates the historical relevance and amnesia of these images. “Conakry” describes and exposes how accessing almost forgotten footage of militant imaginary can be an instrument for recovering memory.

cn_conakry_2_w

“Aurelio in Flight” – Pierre Alferi

Cabaret Wittgenstein posts today an unpublished text by French author Pierre Alferi, in Éric Trudel’s English translation followed by its original

Aurelio in Flight
Pierre Alferi

(translated from the original French by Éric Trudel)

Gaetana Moroder’s blog,
nacelle 146.

Aurelio left us last night or early this morning. His fall didn’t really catch me by surprise. Lately, few words were spoken in his presence, which had become barely noticeable. His inexpressive face had seemingly turned to stone and it discouraged us. Every day he spent hours alone on the deck despite the bitter cold. His head hung from his bundled body, as if fastened to a neck deprived of any muscle.

He had no close relative left in the Corolla. He was without news of the captain of one of the Calyx’s capsules, a distant nephew. Back when he was still trying to communicate with us, he had mentioned a Chilean wife, but she had divorced him before the Rapture, childless. Hence, at fifty and counting, he was a natural contender for the big dive.

His cell will be an ideal nursery for Clara, his closest neighbor. While we refrain from alluding to this, one can’t exclude that the news of a pregnancy aboard may have been an incitement, if not a trigger. Everyone knows that the birth rate, as low as it may be, still surpasses mortality, especially since the cryocells were opened. And it’s no secret that the frequency of falls, in slow but steady increase, has helped stabilize our demographics, and thus the occupancy rate throughout the fleet.

I’d lie if I said that I’ll miss Aurelio very much. I met him when I was still a teenager, and twenty years of promiscuity have more or less worn down any feeling he ever induced in me. Luis, Clara, Rod, myself – of course we all actively looked for him this morning, both inside and outside. But two hours later, when we gathered in the jacuzzin to commemorate him, we quickly agreed that his departure, as disquieting as it was, was ultimately convenient.

Tact is a virtue we all recognized in him. As we were getting out of the tub, Clara, her voice breaking with emotion, expressed gratitude and pressed her hand on her belly while keeping it underwater to supplement her caloric intake. Then Rod, having already showered and put on his bathrobe, paid tribute to him in his native tongue and, as he helped Clara to stand up, praised his sense of timing and propriety*. Not simply an awareness of what was the proper thing to do, he explained, but of what is truly appropriate for others.

Still, I don’t believe it was a sacrifice. In my view, Aurelio’s endless stays on the deck, his self composure and his lack of expression did not suggest some inner struggle, a project one delays or hesitates to bring to completion, but rather a kind of nostalgia of Earth, gentle and yet hopeless. He only took with him what he was wearing at the time, and, for the sake of decency, we have agreed to wait a week before we consider how to recycle his belongings.

I had just woken up when Luis came to warn me, soon after noticing that Aurelio had vanished. So we can’t rule out that he was still alive at that very moment. At least this is what I immediately thought, and I spent the following few minutes trying to imagine every stage of his fall, while still making sure that he was not hiding somewhere in a corner.

At first he must’ve enjoyed his physical liberation. First minute: not a single obstacle on the horizon. Nothing but the air’s resistance, which makes the softest of mattresses. He stretches in every direction, assesses the flexibility of his ankles, his wrists and his neck as he rotates his head, his heels and his fists. He shakes off decades of anchylosis by waving arms and legs. He arches his back, as if pole vaulting. He curls up and counts to five – or ten. Then he spreads his limbs out as much as he possibly can.

This is, in any event, what I would have done in his situation. A sway of the hips is enough to turn the X shape he’s adopted into the spokes of a wheel. Aurelio becomes the Vitruvian Man spinning like a hoop. After a few seconds of circling, stretching and frolicking, he notices blood coming out of his ears – his eardrums burst as he broke the sound barrier.

Third minute: the silence is exquisite. Aurelio shuts his eyes to better savor it. An instant, that seems lengthy. Traveling at 600 miles/hour, he nearly fell asleep on the vapor pillows, cushions, bolsters and beddings pressed around him as if to assemble a celestial safety net, a web strung by titans, a king size* canopy bed. Except that the said cushions, beddings, bolsters and pillows explode upon contact, go up in smoke, the white bed sheet unravels, weaves out and Aurelio falls through it. Long grey threads dissipate in his wake, leaving behind them a colorless but increasingly dense fog. Two or three minutes go by, unnoticed, in a neutral setting, muffled, opaque, vaguely humid.

Suddenly – sixth minute –, the veil is torn and a landscape welcomes him with open arms. A clearer landscape than those he used to catch a glimpse of between the layers of clouds, as we’ve been hovering for ages above this flooded corner of West Africa. The littoral of what was formally Gabon, a dwarf country halved by the rising sea within a single generation, appears and begins to take shape and consistence. Aurelio opens his eyelids, reddened by the air’s friction and the rising heat, as wide as ever.

At the moment he sees the coast stand out against the water, the waves and the rolling billows, a smile – a smile I have never seen there before, a smile he probably didn’t even know he could make, but one that I dream of and wish for him – spreads across his face. Fascinated, he makes out the narrow line of sand that separates, here and there, the jungle from the ocean. He notes that everywhere else the sea swamps and soaks the fermenting shrubbery, the seaweed-colored forest, like a muddy puddle. If I were him, I’d take thirty seconds more to admire the caps of the decaying canopy, afloat like scattered islands made of lichen.

Seventh minute: the imminent impact does cause, in the end, a slight stress, and the adrenaline rush blurs his vision. But Aurelio pulls himself together. His numb fingers even manage to fasten the last button of his jacket, which was flapping in the wind. He now runs them through his thinning hair. The dirty blue of a shallow in a cove swallows his field of vision. Only a few seconds left. He straightens himself, breathes deeply, eyes staring wide. He is ready for his appointment.

[translated from Spanish]

*in English in the original French.

:

Aurèle en vol

Blog de Gaetana Moroder,
nacelle 146.

Aurèle nous a quittés cette nuit ou tôt ce matin. Sa chute ne m’a pas surprise plus que ça. Ces derniers temps il s’échangeait peu de paroles en sa présence, qui s’était faite plus que discrète. Son visage fermé avait pris un aspect minéral qui nous décourageait. Chaque jour il passait seul des heures sur la coursive malgré le froid. Sa tête paraissait pendre de son torse emmitouflé, retenue par un cou sans muscles.

Il n’avait plus de parent proche dans la Corolle. Il était sans nouvelles d’un vague neveu commandant de bord d’une capsule du Calice. Quand il faisait encore des efforts pour communiquer, il avait évoqué devant nous son mariage avec une Chilienne, mais dont il avait divorcé avant le Ravissement sans avoir eu d’enfant. À cinquante ans et des poussières, il était donc un candidat naturel au plongeon.

Sa cellule fera une pouponnière parfaite pour Clara, sa voisine immédiate. Quoique nous nous soyons interdit toute allusion, on ne peut pas exclure que l’annonce d’une grossesse dans la nacelle ait joué un rôle, je ne dis pas déclencheur, mais d’incitation. Nul n’ignore que la natalité, si basse qu’elle soit, reste nettement supérieure à la mortalité proprement dite, surtout depuis l’ouverture des glacelles. Et c’est un secret de Polichinelle que la fréquence des chutes, en lente mais régulière augmentation, contribue a stabiliser la démographie, et donc le taux d’occupation dans l’ensemble de la flotte.

Je mentirais si je disais qu’Aurèle va beaucoup me manquer. Je l’ai connu encore adolescente, et vingt ans de promiscuité ont érodé à peu près tous les sentiments qu’il a pu m’inspirer. Luis, Clara, Rod, moi – nous l’avons bien sûr, ce matin, tous cherché activement, dedans puis dehors. Mais quand, deux heures plus tard, nous nous sommes réunis dans la jacuzzine pour évoquer son souvenir, nous sommes vite convenus que son départ, si consternant soit-il, était finalement opportun.

La délicatesse est une vertu que nous lui reconnaissons tous. En posant la main sur son ventre, qu’elle maintenait immergé pour un supplément calorique tandis que nous sortions du bain, Clara nous a confié sa gratitude avec un sanglot dans la voix. À la suite de quoi Rod, qui l’aidait à se relever après s’être douché puis couvert d’un peignoir, lui a rendu hommage dans sa langue maternelle en louant son sens du timing et de la propriety. Non pas des convenances, expliqua-t-il, mais de ce qui convient réellement à autrui.

Pour autant je ne crois pas à un sacrifice. À mes yeux, les interminables séjours d’Aurèle sur la coursive, son calme et son absence d’expression ne suggéraient pas un débat intérieur, un projet qu’on hésite ou tarde à exécuter, mais plutôt une nostalgie, douce quoique sans issue, de la Terre. Il n’y a emporté que ce qu’il portait sur lui, et nous nous accordons pour respecter un délai de décence d’une semaine avant d’envisager le recyclage de ses affaires.

Quand Luis m’a prévenue, juste après l’avoir remarquée, de la disparition d’Aurèle, je venais de me réveiller. Il n’est donc pas exclu qu’il ait été encore en vie à ce moment-là. C’est ce que j’ai pensé tout de suite, et j’ai donc passé les minutes suivantes à essayer d’imaginer, tout en vérifiant qu’il ne s’était pas caché dans un coin, chacune des étapes de sa chute.

Il a d’abord dû jouir de sa libération physique. Première minute : plus un obstacle à l’horizon. L’air seul, dont la résistance fait le plus moelleux des matelas. Il s’étire en tout sens, éprouve à loisir la souplesse de ses chevilles, de ses poignets, de sa nuque en faisant rouler sa tête, ses talons et ses poings. Il secoue bras et jambes pour vaincre une ankylose de plusieurs décennies. Il se cambre comme un perchiste. Il se pelotonne, compte jusqu’à cinq – ou dix. Alors il projette, en les écartant au maximum, ses quatre membres.

C’est en tout cas ce que j’aurais fait à sa place. Cet X qu’il forme alors, un déhanchement suffit à en faire les rayons d’une roue. Aurèle devient l’Homme de Vitruve lancé comme un cerceau. Après quelques dizaines de secondes de rotation, d’étirements et de galipettes, il s’avise que ses oreilles saignent, parce qu’il s’est crevé les tympans en franchissant le mur du son.

Minute trois : le silence est exquis. Aurèle ferme les yeux pour mieux le savourer. Un temps, qui paraît long. À près de mille kilomètres/heure, il s’est presque endormi sur des coussins, polochons, traversins, édredons de vapeur qui se sont pressés alentour et forment un filet de sécurité céleste, une toile tendue par des titans, un lit à baldaquin king size. Sauf que lesdits coussins, édredons, traversins, polochons explosent à son contact, ils partent en fumée, le drap blanc s’effiloche, se détisse, Aurèle lui passe entre les mailles. Sur son passage des filaments grisâtres se dissipent, font place à un brouillard incolore de plus en plus dense. Deux ou trois minutes passent insensiblement dans un milieu neutre amorti, opaque, vaguement humide.

Mais soudain – minute six –, le voile se déchire et un paysage tend les bras. Un paysage plus net que ceux qu’il entr’apercevait entre les couches de nuages, depuis des lustres que nous nous balançons au-dessus de ce coin inondé d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Le littoral de l’ex-Gabon, pays nain réduit de moitié par la montée des eaux en une génération, épaissit, se révèle, se précise. Les paupières d’Aurèle, rougies par le frottement de l’air et la chaleur croissante, s’écartent comme jamais.

Un sourire que je ne lui connais pas, que je lui rêve, que je lui souhaite, et dont il doit être inconscient lui-même, fend son visage tandis qu’il voit la côte se découper, l’eau se plisser, l’écume rouler. Il distingue, fasciné, le mince trait de sable qui sépare encore par endroits la jungle de la mer. Il vérifie que partout ailleurs celle-ci trempe comme une flaque boueuse les sous-bois fermentés, les massifs couleur d’algue. À sa place, je prendrais trente secondes de plus pour observer les calottes de la canopée fanée, qui surnagent çà et là comme des îles de lichen.

Minute sept : l’imminence de l’impact produit tout de même un léger stress, et la décharge d’adrénaline trouble sa vue. Mais Aurèle se ressaisit. Ses doigts anesthésiés parviennent même à fermer le dernier bouton de sa veste qui claquait au vent. Il les passe maintenant dans sa chevelure clairsemée. Le bleu sale d’un haut fond dans une crique mange son champ de vision. Plus que quelques secondes. Il se rajuste, prend une longue inspiration, écarquille les yeux. Il est prêt pour son rendez-vous.

[traduit de l’espagnol]

§

Pierre Alferi is a French author, born in Paris in 1963. He has published Le Chemin familier du poisson combatif (poetry, 1992), Sentimentale journée (poetry, 1997), Handicap (avec Jacques Julien, poetry, 2000), and Le Cinéma des familles (novel, 1999), Les Jumelles (novel, 2009) and Après vous (novel, 2010), among others. Pierre Alferi lives and works in Paris.

“experts in white middle-class waiver Eyüp sen de gel” – Çağlar Köseoğlu

Cabaret Wittgenstein presents a multilingual poem by Çağlar Köseoğlu, working with Dutch, Turkish and English. It appeared in Flemish literary journal nY recently. It is published online for the first time here.

experts in white middle-class waiver Eyüp sen de gel

een stuk hiçbir zaman krediet silenced komaf wij

median teferruat symbolisme ootmoedig door kafaya bak

waarde so Republican zo vilein ve er gaat het nieuwe

ne ben pratiği vasthoudend aan postpolitieke of

dood kind demeyin officiallly loving representatie

artık olan oscileert you want rights oohoo sardonisch

commercial sonrası ons terrorisme klopt cervelaat

intellectual yesinler o zaman on rifle verkiezing

met al uw might and uh you know çok din fantazesi

poetics of küresel demiştim sana plosieven ki

onteigening van molotov atışı through appearance

Cizre euphemism meeting de architectuur van nu

başbakan barricades net als ons quote unquote

kiss your peaceheads bize ne gating fencing air

inmiddels bevestigd türk müsün therefore he is

go in horizontaal met modern weaponry zira

 

§

Çağlar Köseoğlu is a poet, currently based in the Netherlands, born in 1985. His poems have appeared among others in Samplekanon, Kluger Hans, nY and Deus ex Machina. He has performed in the Netherlands, Belgium and the US. His first collection of poetry – 34 – has been published as a chapbook by Stanza Press, Amsterdam in 2015. Recently, he completed the Aesthetics and Politics program at California Institute of the Arts. He is the associate editor of Contrivers’ Review and the 2016 writer-in-residence of Flemish literary journal nY.

“Cloaks” – Michael Salu

Cabaret Wittgenstein presents here a previously unpublished prose piece by Michael Salu, also inviting you to watch his video “Yesterday”:

Watch “Yesterday” on Salu’s page.

§

Cloaks
Michael Salu

Cloak No. 1 – Heat Haze

I remember she got married in August. I mean remarried in August, I don’t know why. Why August? There was a baptist church that stood alone amidst mosques, halal chicken shops and arabic grocery stores. It was blackened by years of false hopes as the landscape around it changed significantly over the years. From white to black to brown. I suppose I mean the demographic rather than landscape. The people inside the church stayed the same. They played, got married and got old in the same building. The prayed about their illnesses and thanked Jesus or the Lord for the little gains. Laura just came through her session of chemo. Oh praise the Lord! In their Sunday best. I was standing alongside my mother as was my brother, her new groom stood sensibly to her other side. His eyes never met ours. The entire congregation also stood. I saw a stiff sea of pastel colored hats and ties. I shifted in my cloak, it made a small jangling sound. Jesus looked down on me somewhat pitifully from the wall. I could barely raise my head to examine him in all his gouache-d splendour due to the leaden weight of my cloak. There were many layers. Wedding layers. In August I reiterate. I tugged at my tie’s knot a little. My shoes shiny and black. The Lord was supposedly sitting back listening to the pastor’s oratorical declaration about the tides of love, honour and responsibility and I’m overcome in waves. Who is this guy standing there? What is she doing? These sounds faded and fell into my heat haze. My brow simmered, hot and bothered by synthetic union. Metabolism is a bitch and these cloaks beset upon us to bear, shimmer as they may not be for harried twelve year olds with an empty stomach on a hot day. Goodbye for now everyone, with a thump and everything cuts to black.

Cloak No. 2 – Validation

The thing is their cloaks would hang lower than our own, their chains would be heavier and clank louder. You might even dig the music they play but do anything to escape the association though of course you know your attempts were futile. They were super-sized, gold plated. Heavy 24 inch rims of imprisonment. Now the thing is disassociation is impossible however starched your collar. Eventually guards will be dropped after the second or third drink and you’ll be lumped back into that circle, that conversation regardless how starched your collar, or shiny your brogue. Over the water those spirits in similar garb – but not the same i stress – to your own require external validation in daily an explicit declaration of self as it does not come from elsewhere. You see it in the rhythm of the spirits’ gait, also burdened, though this music is consistent. That oneness, that sameness be also a battle. You are them, they are you yet their cloaks don’t so much dazzle as gaudily blind through the reflection. You were never them, nor they ever you and you can see them clearly, weary and defeated.

Cloak No. 3 – The Private View

Inside it is always the same. Four white walls. The Hypocrites must carry the weight of their deceit for eternity, so our glasses clinked with adulation and we supped at a wine the correct temperature but remained just the wrong side of dry. Her cloak swooshed around the lone stalactite hanging from the ceiling, which we all stood around and discussed. Apparently it weighs half a ton, a feat of engineering as much as concept. We huddled underneath it in our heavy cloaks, each one the same no colour a swath of bodies absorbing the light. My own cloak was the only one made to measure and this was notable. It gave a more natural and comfortable drape as I was used to it and it was even attuned to my waist giving off a rather enviable silhouette. The artist was nowhere to be seen.

Cloak No. 4 – Lone Spirit

As I’ve already alluded to, the weight of these cloaks make it difficult somewhat to walk with one’s head up, revealing one’s face. A lone spirit for example, loped a quiet residential street at night. The street lighting was not so good. Each light would only pool the immediate vicinity, leaving pockets of blackness. This poor spirit’s cloak is heavy and dark, dragging along the pavement with the friction of ballast. His cloak does not shimmer in this light or reveal what lay underneath. On the same side of the street a woman walks towards him. Once momentum has been gained underneath said cloak, there exists a way to shuffle along. It is a trudge actually. Difficult to move in any other way than a laboured regulated procession. Yet this lowly spirit with herculean effort changes course, face still shrouded in part, castigates the moonless night and trudges to the other side of the street. For her but more so for him.

Cloak No. 5 – So, What Exactly is Smart Casual?

This is a quite recent bit of rhetoric. Sartorial aspiration has been made accessible to all through global capital. An assimilation of sorts. Of experience, of storylines, of faiths. Those cloaks lose their cumbersome weight once they reach the catwalk, feathered and washed. You can still hear them clank, as they make their way back down through the food chain to the streets available at a much higher price.

These aren’t to be confused with the cloaks of the spirits back home. Sunday best gleams and adornment tells you a narrative as hierarchies of class and status differ little. The weight came from the journey, the weight exists to control, the weight is a spiritual impoverishment cast down from a crusade. The weight deludes with illusory emancipation.

Cloak No. 6 – Wear it Well.

This pen weighs a ton. Don’t get it twisted, it in itself is a leaden cloak. Again it is shiny and you will stand out. Though be warned, every utterance is amplified. Your art is a cloak. It will be attended to with a lofty fondness. You may want to write about that steep climb you made near Inverness but you’re not Robert Macfarlane but that’s ok, as your cloak will gain you entry into heaven or at least a vagina. You’ll be unable to kid yourself as spirits go, as it’ll always set you apart and the hypocrisy of this lies partly within and partly within something you can never crush underfoot. Wear your Sunday best, show your best side, show your best moves. Your ‘self’ is replaceable with your ‘shadow’. That is how this story goes, it is fairly straightforward in its linear three act structure. Eventually they find your cloak tattered and worn through repetitious use because it probably is your only one and this path is for eternity. It’ll eventually come down to folky staccato rants aimlessly conjuring a dream that was never yours.

§

Michael Salu is a writer, award-winning creative director and artist. His fiction, non-fiction and art have appeared in a range of publications including Tales of Two Cities (Penguin RandomHouse), Grey Magazine and recently the inaugural edition of new literary journal Freeman’s. Salu runs a multi-disciplinary creative consultancy [SALU.io] and is a co-founder of the cross-disciplinary art event series Local Transport. He is currently trying to finish his first book and has two film projects in production. He is the former creative director and art editor of Granta Publications.

“[One, at the border]” and other poems – Robin Myers

[At dusk]

At dusk,
I fling cuts
of raw meat just
past its sell-by
date into the yard
for the cats
and the weasels,
who know me.

They take turns
eating. Always
the cats first,
weasel eyes
glittering in the bushes.

Who can say
if what they have together
is a truce renewed
each time,
an established chain
of command,
an oppression,
or what we call
peace,

these animals who hunger
and never speak.

§

[What has become of what we thought]

What has become of what we thought
we wanted?

There is no accounting for the wreckage.
There it is, uncountable, uncounted.
What is it that we thought we wanted?

The family of cats still makes their nest
in the scattered cinderblocks out back,
but this is a small comfort,
all things considered.

I know nothing about you.
I knew nothing about you
or what you wanted.

Newborn ruins,

nineteen times the same village razed
and raised up again.

§

[One, at the border]

One, at the border,
wherever it was then,
appeared before
his commanding officers,
stripped, stood
pale and trembling,
said he wouldn’t
go back.

As far as I can tell,
he deserted only
his uniform, and there
are other shirts in this place.

I never had a son,
never had to say
You must go to school,
you must stay there.

But I was one.

A frayed rope,
splayed out from itself
like a chrysanthemum.

§

 

[So many objects]

So many objects
doing their damndest
to disobey gravity, or evade it,
or harness it for their own

purposes:
rocks, tanks,
bottles, bullets,
tires set afire.

I’ve seen countless shapes turn and turn
and be transformed in pursuit
of the harm
we intend for them.

It still surprises me
that rubber burns.

§

Robin Myers is a Mexico City-based poet and translator, born in New York City in 1987. Her poems have been published in the Kenyon Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose, and ELKE: A Little Journal; other work is forthcoming in The Offing, Berlin Quarterly, and New Millennium Writings. This fall, two collections of her poems will be published as bilingual English/Spanish editions in Mexico (Conflations/Amalgama) and in Spain and Argentina (Else/Lo demás).

The “Well scene” in ‘Butterfly Sleep’ – Kim Kyung-ju

Cabaret Wittgenstein presents here a scene in Jake Levine’s English translation from Butterfly Sleep, by South Korean author Kim Kyung-ju. As the translator has explained to us via email, Butterfly Sleep is what Kyung-ju calls a 시국, where 시 is poetry, and the 국 is play. Poetry Play. This is the  first scene from Act 3.

 

Act 3. Donuimun (the West Gate).
The Rain Calling Ceremony

Scene 1. The well

Inside the fortress. Inside a dry well (The lowest part of the fortress).
In order to save her child that fell,
a mother crawls down the narrow well
and gets her body stuck.
Hanging upside down, the mother’s
legs are the only thing anyone can see from outside the well.
In the darkness inside the well
the mother and daughter speak
and their voices ring.
Like a black tide,
like water flowing on the moon,
sloshing around,
their voices clang
as several hours pass.

Sitting on the roof,
someone wearing a mask
is watching.

Child: Mama.

Mother: Yes, yes, it’s Mama.

Child: Mama.

Child: Mama.

Mother: Mama’s here.

Child: I’m scared, Mama.

Mother: It’s all right, baby.

Child: It’s all right, it’s all right.

Mama: Yes, that’s right. That’s right

Child: Mama, it’s black.

The mother reaches out a hand.

The child reaches out a hand.
The child is out of breath.

Child: I can’t breathe.

Mama: Hold my hand tight.

Child: I’m holding on.

Child: Mama, I keep crying. Mama, I keep getting sleepy.

Mother: Baby, don’t fall asleep. You can’t fall asleep. People will find us and get us out. Don’t let go of my hand.

Child: Don’t let go of my hand.

Mama: No, no, I won’t.

Child: Mama.

Child: Mama.

Mother: Yes?

Child: Mama, you’re here, right?

Mother: I’m here.

The mother is out of breath.
The child is out of breath.

Mother: You were scared, weren’t you?

Child: Yes, Mama. Scared you’d never come.

Mother: Baby, no matter where I am, I always hear the sound of your breathing. I’m your mom. No matter where you go, I’ll always hear your cry.

Child: Mama?

Child: Mama?

Mother: Y-yes, baby.

Child: Mama, why are you crying? Your tears are falling on my eyes.

Mama: Baby . . . My baby.

The child and the mother are out of breath.

Child: Don’t talk, Mama. I’ll hold your hand tight. Don’t come down anymore, Mama.

Mother: M-mama . . . won’t l-let go. Of. Y-your hand . . . until we. Get. Out.

The mother is out of breath.

Child: Mama, I’ll push you out of here.

Mother: Don’t, don’t.

Child: What if people don’t find us?

Mother: Don’t think bad thoughts. Just think of Mama. That I’m beside you.

Child: Yes, Mama.

Silence

Child: I’m sleepy.

Mother: Sleep, my baby . . . Sleep
Sleep . . . my (interval) baby, sleep
Go to the moon (interval) and (interval) dream
Loyal child. Devoted child (interval)
My . . . baby (interval), don’t you weep

(Almost inaudible, completely gone
as if her breath is vanishing within itself,
sounding like a moon slushing full of water,
with the moon in her mouth, about to cry)

Sleep . . . wind, sleep (interval)
Take my baby
Sleeping soundly
When baby closes her eyes
Shut my eyes for me

Sleep . . . wind, sleep (interval)
Take my baby
Sleeping soundly
When baby closes her eyes
Close my eyes for me

Lullaby 2

Child: Mama? Mama?

Mother . . .

Gasping,
the sound of breathing dims
as the mother’s breath gently touches the walls of the well.

Child: Mama . . . Mama.
Mama! Mama . . .

The child cries.
One by one her cries turn to sobs.

Child: Don’t sleep, Mama. Don’t sleep, Mama . . .

The child is out of breath.
Hiccups.
Hiccups.
The child’s breaths grow shorter, shallower.

Almost inaudible, almost completely gone,
as if her breath is vanishing within itself,
sounding like the slushing of the moon, full of water,
with the moon in her mouth, about to cry.

Child: Mama . . . Thank you. I knew . . . you would come for me . . .

Dopp dopp.
The sound of
the child’s teardrops falling
to the bottom of the well.
Dopp dopp.
The sound of the mother’s teardrops
falling onto the child’s face.
Dopp.
Dopp.
The child’s breaths gently stop.
The tide gently swells.
Inside the well
breath scatters.

§

Kim Kyung-ju (also Kim Kyung Ju) is a South Korean poet, playwright and performer,  born in Gwangju in 1976. He has studied philosophy at Sogang University and his first book of poetry, I Am A Season That Does Not Exist In This World, was published in 2006, establishing him as one of the most widely read poets of his generation.

Kim Kyung-ju has written pornographic novels and provided services as a ghost writer, and has translated several books of poetry, essays, and plays. His work is heavily anthologized in Korea. In 2009 he was awarded Today’s Young Artist Prize by the Korean government and the Kim Su-Young Literature Prize. Kim Kyung-ju lives in Seoul.