“[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.

“towards us” – Samuel Vriezen

This is a sequence from a cycle of poems by Dutch author and composer Samuel Vriezen, written in Dutch and here in the author’s translation. The cycle is structured as a descending Fibonacci sequence in terms of number of stanzas. The poem following the one here is a sequence of 5 stanzas, one of 3, one of 2, and two of 1. We close the publication with Samuel Vriezen’s composition “Mixed Economy”, in a live recording of the premiere in De Link, Tilburg, on March  11th, 2014, and performed by Ensemble Klang.

 

picture-16

A sequence from “towards us”, by Samuel Vriezen. Translated by the author. This poem is dedicated to Dutch poet and translator Frank Keizer, as it enters a dialogue with the text “Of Ships and Sovereignty: Speculations on European Poetry“, penned by both for Dutch magazine Samplekanon.

§

Samuel Vriezen – “Mixed Economy”. Live recording of the premiere in De Link, Tilburg, on March 11th, 2014. Performed by Ensemble Klang.

 

About “Mixed Economy” :::: notes by Samuel Vriezen ::::

“Six individuals negotiate a mixed economy, which consists of four different ways of organizing the collective into subgroups. These four planes are intertwined, so the performers must constantly shift their relationship to one another and to the whole, and out of the four planes’ motivic shreds create their song.”

Mixed Economy, written in 2010, is probably the most complex score I have written. The idea was to base everything on the way the sextet can be seen as a rich multiplicity of sub-ensembles: six solos, one sextet, fifteen duos (one for each couple of instruments), two trios (the winds and the ‘rhythm section’, mostly playing chords, however). However, instead of presenting these formations in sequential order, they all happen at the same time. In the densest sections of the piece, everybody is constantly related to everybody else in shifting ways. This puts a lot of pressure on individual parts as well as on the sense of ensemble playing – while creating a polyphony of very high density.

The ideal of a completely saturated polyphony has been a constant in my composing, but not merely from a fascination with high information density. I’d like to create forms that do not only create complex textures, but also make their complexity somehow transparent. You can’t be expected to hear and follow everything, but you should be able to zoom in and zoom out on the processes as they unfold while you listen. To achieve this type of complexity, I have ended up rather simplifying the basic motives of my melodic style, while making heavy use of canon-like relations and repetitions, but always in intricate mosaic patterns and flexible rhythmic relationships.

Within this big, messy flux, sub-ensembles organize themselves: tiny duos that should be completely together, trio or sextet entrances that are coordinated. Like so many attempts at community in a world where all stability is under constant threat of drifting apart. The soft, slow “solos” offer a form of repose.

The piece is in seven sections, each featuring different mixtures of the “planes”. The fifth section is the longest, most continuous onslaught of total counterpoint.’

§

Samuel Vriezen is an Amsterdam-based Dutch composer and writer, born in 1973. He has written several works for chamber ensembles, with an interest in non-standard ways of organizing performer coordination and interaction, and in exploring the panoramic contrapuntal possibilities that such methods of ensemble playing give. Vriezen is also a poet and a pianist. He has written many text compositions (or polyphonic poems), and his writing (including poetry, translations and essays) has been published in literary journals including the Dutch Parmentier, the Flemish yang and the French Action Poétique.

“MARFA Poetry Machine in 36 Things” – CA Conrad

                                                      –for Jason Dodge

The Lannan Foundation presented me with a generous fellowship to live and write in beautiful Marfa, Texas for two months. My working class mother thinks I have pulled off a bank heist rather than anyone would be foolish enough to pay me to write my poems. I said, “I know Mom I know, it is amazing with all the love our country gives to war and genocide that there is any left over for a poet!” I did 36 Things a day for 36 days, taking notes between each Thing, the notes harvested later for the poems. Here is a list of the Things I did each day to create the MARFA POETRY MACHINE:

1: SAGE POETS
Burn sage to honor a different living poet each morning, saying the poet’s name out loud while wearing a ceramic hamsa the poet Erica Kaufman gave me. “This morning as every morning with poetry as my strength, I honor the poet ___________.”

2: CRYSTAL SUPPLEMENT
Place the day’s food in a glass bowl surrounded by crystals that have been programed to boost cell proliferation and heighten organic vibrational patterns for greater nutritional gain. The steady pulse of crystal frequencies saturating plants, beans and grains.

3: REIKI SUNRISE BEFORE SUNRISE
Watch sunrise on Edgar Cayce Institute Meditation Room webcam in Virginia Beach while giving Reiki to myself, preparing for the sun’s arrival in Texas. http://www.edgarcayce.org/are/prayer.aspx

4: REIKI SUNRISE
An hour later watch sunrise on porch while giving myself Reiki. Setting my day by the sun plugs me into a natural clock.

(I will have two sunrises a day with two time zones: One online in Virginia Beach, another in Texas. But only one sunset to cheat the grave.)

5: YOKO MOLECULAR INFUSION
While cooking breakfast play the album RISING by Yoko Ono next to the stove, her music finding its way into the fiber of the food as she sings, “Listen to your heart, respect your intuition, make your manifestation, there is no limitation, have courage, have rage, we’re all together.”

6: CELL KNITTING
Chew each mouthful of breakfast 36 times, meditating on food cells becoming my own cells of Yoko-Crystal infusion.

7: ELVIS PENETRATING CRYSTAL
Meditate on a postage stamp of Elvis Presley (a gift from friend Jenn McCreary) through a clear shaft of flawless citrine, the guardian gemstone of manifestation.

8: ELVIS BLACKOUT
Wearing headphones sitting inside a closet with door closed listening to the length of a different Elvis song each day then as it finishes take notes by flashlight.

9: MARFA GRATITUDE
Standing in front of the house on Summer Street taking a slow 360-degree view, grateful for the people who make Marfa what it is. You can surround yourself with the best art in the world, but what actually makes a town is its citizens, and Marfa is home to some of the most thoughtful people I have ever met.

10: LOG BENCH VISUALIZATION
Sit on log bench in Summer Street Park. Gaze at the landscape without blinking. Close eyes and remember what was seen. Open eyes and look for what was missed. With each day the contents of the landscape grows more complete inside. Later while falling asleep I visualize the park, recalling the details clearer and clearer throughout the 36 days.

11: GIANT INSTALLMENTTS
Watch five and a half minutes of the movie GIANT that was filmed in Marfa (1955), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean. (Five and a half minutes times 36 is the length of the film). “Bick, you shoulda shot that fella a long time ago. Now he’s too rich to kill.” (A line of Uncle Bawley’s).

12: COLOR MATES
Focus on a color outside the Pueblo Market in the parking lot, buildings, or the sky: a yellow car or a bit of pink gum or an orange cat. Then walk the market aisles to find the same color on cans and other packaging and read the ingredients like on a can of peas as if it is the legend to a map. And ask the label out loud, “HOW are these peas showing the way out of darkness to the sanctioned interior?”

13: SENTINEL PINE
All my life I have made friends with trees. I take my magnifying glass to study the giant pine growing behind an abandoned building near Pueblo Market. She is tall and old and Donald Judd must have taken notice of her perfect symmetry of branches holding herself in spaces of green, brown, and angelic exhale of crown. There was an ant and I think she was the same ant, there most days crawling up the narrow ravines of bark. I dabbed a little brown rice syrup on the bark, always eaten, always relished.

14: APHRODITE’S ELEMENT
Place a penny on railroad tracks next to the post office. Copper is the metal of Aphrodite – the goddess of Love – and we must not forget this, ever, that copper is her element on Earth. Find flattened pennies from the day before and leave them on the sidewalk, squashed heads-up.

15: SOTOL SNAKE SAUNTER
Walk a snake pattern through the long rows of enormous sotol plants at the corner of Oak & High outside Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation. This building houses the work of artist John Chamberlain and was originally known as Fort D. A. Russell. In an essay, Judd wrote of the building and plants, “This large right angle was planted in a corresponding grid of sotol plants, an agave of the area, from which a liquor like tequila is made – just in case.” (Reader, do you also LOVE the “just in case” at the end?)

16: SHUT UP AND SLIDE
At the Travis E. Self Memorial Park climb the sliding board. Take notes at the top. Send the notebook down the slide then follow it no matter who watches.

17: RAILROAD PYRAMID
Climb hill near MARFA RAILROAD PEN. Face across tracks, find three stationary objects then imagine a line connecting them. Study contents of triangle especially look for the large dark chicken, she lives there and she is a beautiful chicken.

18: CHICKEN SONGS
Sing to the large dark chicken even if she is not visible. But sing like a chicken sing one very large dark chicken serenade she might appreciate.

19: MARFA HIBACHI
Stand at intersection of Highland Avenue and San Antonio Street imagining a restaurant with a giant canvas at the entrance with brushes and paints for customers to use. If a customer adds to the painting they get a free bottle of wine for their table. The choice to not paint is a thousand dollars for a glass of water, a salad, or cookie, the high price of denying collaboration.

20: JUDD’S FALLEN GIANT
For years I have viewed Donald Judd’s work in museums as an immersed study on chakras, spinal discs aligned and often lit from within. In Marfa I drive down route 67 South to see Judd’s massive concrete blocks in the desert, like the remains of a fallen giant a kilometer in length, spinal cord fossils with flesh of Texas wind and sand. One afternoon two coyotes were having sex between the third and fourth vertebrate from the maw of the desert: a burst of pleasure beside the fallen.

21: MARFA ALOHA
Give a stranger a poetry broadside.

22: DESERT WITCHES
Read five pages a day of Marc Simmons’s 180 page book, WITCHCRAFT IN THE SOUTHWEST: Spanish & Indian Supernaturalism on the Rio Grande. (I found myself routing for the witches, no matter what misogynistic and bigoted prejudices the author attempted to instill.)

23: WITCH DANCE WORKOUT
Each day sit on floor to follow Mary Wigman’s Witch Dance like a Jane Fonda workout video for the spirit. I believe Wigman may be the first contemporary dancer to consciously use dance as trauma release. In an interview she said, “I was once completely confused and unhappy. I locked myself in the guest room of my parent’s home and in great consternation I sobbed and cried because I did not know anymore what to do with my life. There on the spot I discovered suddenly that in all my unhappiness I was moving and I was moving in such a way that I had never moved before. And also suddenly this moving became an expression, a speaking out.” –Mary Wigman, dancer and choreographer. http://bit.ly/1MdSPtZ

24: SWEET POTATO BABY DOLL
The grocer said my sweet potato is organic, but I love all sweet potatoes, organic or filled with toxic sprays and fucked up genes. I cradle my sweet potato, breast feed my sweet potato, rock her back and forth, singing her name, Tara, Tara OH MY LITTLE TARAAAAA. My mother said this would have been my name if I had been born a girl. I drew eyes, mouth, and painted a purple glitter skirt onto Sweet Potato Baby Doll. I carry her with me in my bag to show to people I meet. “Would you like to see Sweet Potato Baby Doll? She is my avatar potato with a bit of lithium quartz embedded in her head to receive the transmissions of her day which is also our day.”

25: REGRET-REVERSAL SPELL
Close eyes and think of an embarrassment from the past. Imagine the former self in the middle of the situation shrugging and laughing.

26: WE ARE ALL COGS OF A BEAUTIFUL MACHINE
Find one natural item a day, a twig, little stone, feather, a bit of fluff on a breeze, and wind it, twist it into my longest strands of hair. Leave it tangled in my hair while writing then untangle it.

27: COGS OF A MARFA POETRY MACHINE
Arrange found natural items on back porch, a growing machine.

28: PAGE 36
Read page 36 of different books written by former Lannan Fellows. For instance, “Expunging Palestinians politically or physically from Israel’s body politic is an idea with broad support within the admittedly narrow Zionist Political spectrum.” (from Ali Abunimah’s book The Battle for Justice in Palestine, from Haymarket Books.)

29: YOKO MOLECULAR INFUSION PART TWO
While cooking supper play the 2007 album YES, I’M A WITCH by Yoko Ono next to the stove, her music finding its way into the fiber of the food as she sings, “Yes, I’m a witch, I’m a bitch, I don’t care what you say, my voice is real, my voice is truth, I don’t fit in your ways… Each time we don’t say what we want to say we’re dying.”

30: CELL KNITTING PART TWO
Chew each mouthful of my supper 36 times, meditating on food cells becoming my own cells of Yoko-Crystal infusion.

31: REIKI SUNSET
Watch sunset over the desert at end of Third Street while giving myself Reiki.

32: LOST HORSE
Have one shot of Jack Daniels at The Lost Horse Saloon to meet people and enjoy this space where one night a woman rode a beautiful white horse INTO THE BAR! Ask Tim Johnson at the Marfa Book Company, we were having a drink together. The lost horse always finds its way.

33: MARFA LIGHTS
Look for the Marfa Lights at the viewing station on Route 90. Every night I saw them, sometimes as balls of white light rising from the earth, other nights riding the air sideways and changing colors. Someone told me they were reflected car lights. I said, “Oh really, then what were they in 1888 and earlier, long before the metal horse arrived in Marfa?”

34: FOR THE ARCHITECTS WE LIVE WITH
Each night I play the CD DUET FOR PEN & PENCIL, ELECTRIC DIRT, composed by Christine Olejniczak. Then I walk from room to room with a flashlight to study the house designed by architect Kristin Bonkemeyer. I pause in each room to imagine her original blueprints of the building and say out loud, “THIS is where I write in Kristin’s drawing, THIS is where I play music in Kristin’s drawing; THIS is where I cook, eat and this is where I dream in Kristin’s drawing.”

35: PECCARY VIGIL
Sit quietly on front porch hoping to spot the tribe of javelinas who like to eat the prickly pear cactus in the yard. Several nights THERE THEY WERE, little chattering tusks, hairy, stinky, and glorious to behold.

36: SAGE POETS PART TWO
Burn sage to honor a deceased poet each evening. “This evening as every evening with poetry as my strength, I honor the poet ___________.” For instance, R.I.P. Amiri Baraka who died the first week I was in Marfa.

I was raised by people who spent many years of their lives working in factories where they were treated like bad children who needed to be disciplined for demanding health care and a livable wage. They formed unions to combat the company, and local, state and federal governments all poised against them. I did these 36 Things for them. Freedom, poetry, and Love for them. Amiri Baraka said, “A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom.” The resulting poems are a poetic measurement titled WIDTH OF A WITCH, with a sample below, originally published on the Poetry Foundation website.

Mars.1 

                                     to be
                                  gone a
                  constant desire
         embarrassed for the
   giant leaning in for love
   we had enough
of

   the dance number but                   the whirling begins

  it just starts
  silos full of air
  no more corn
  no more wheat
 watching myself for
 full details in a strange man’s pants
 we let

the soldier board the plane

              shot in head three days later
               why are you angry you said
                 why are you not I said
.
.
.

“Mineirinho” – Clarice Lispector

Cabaret Wittgenstein was created to publish contemporary work by living authors. But on these days of civil liberties being removed for the sake of security; when suspects of crimes can be killed by robots, without trial, from drones in the air to guided bombs in parking lots, this text by Clarice Lispector kept coming to mind. With kind permission by Lispector’s English language translators/editors, Katrina Dodson, Benjamin Moser and New Directions Publishing Corp., Dodson’s English translation of this much needed text will be available here for the coming two weeks.

Note from the editor

 

lispector_collected_stories_for_web

 

Mineirinho

Yes, I suppose it is in myself, as one of the representatives of us, that I should seek the reasons why the death of a thug is hurting. And why it does me more good to count the thirteen gunshots that killed Mineirinho rather than his crimes. I asked my cook what she thought about it. I saw in her face the slight convulsion of a conflict, the distress of not understanding what one feels, of having to betray contradictory feelings because one cannot reconcile them. Indisputable facts, but indisputable revolt as well, the violent compassion of revolt. Feeling divided by one’s own confusion about being unable to forget that Mineirinho was dangerous and had already killed too many; and still we wanted him to live. The cook grew slightly guarded, seeing me perhaps as an avenging justice. Somewhat angry at me, who was prying into her soul, she answered coldly: “It’s no use saying what I feel. Who doesn’t know Mineirinho was a criminal? But I’m sure he was saved and is already in heaven.” I answered, “more than lots of people who haven’t killed anyone.”

Why? For the first law, the one that protects the irreplaceable body and life, is thou shalt not kill. It is my greatest assurance: that way they won’t kill me, because I don’t want to die, and that way they won’t let me kill, because having killed would be darkness for me.

This is the law. But there is something that, if it makes me hear the first and the second gunshots with the relief of safety, at the third puts me on the alert, at the fourth unsettles me, the fifth and the sixth cover me in shame, the seventh and eighth I hear with my heart pounding in horror, at the ninth and tenth my mouth is quivering, at the eleventh I say God’s name in fright, at the twelfth I call my brother. The thirteenth shot murders me — because I am the other. Because I want to be the other.

That justice that watches over my sleep, I repudiate it, humiliated that I need it. Meanwhile I sleep and falsely save myself. We, the essential phonies. For my house to function, I demand as my primary duty that I be a phony, that I not exercise my revolt and my love, both set aside. If I am not a phony, my house trembles. I must have forgotten that beneath the house is the land, the ground upon which a new house might be erected. Meanwhile we sleep and falsely save ourselves. Until thirteen gunshots wake us up, and in horror I plead too late — twenty-eight years after Mineirinho was born — that in killing this cornered man, they do not kill him in us. Because I know that he is my error. And out of a whole lifetime, by God, sometimes the only thing that saves a person is error, and I know that we shall not be saved so long as our error is not precious to us. My error is my mirror, where I see what in silence I made of a man. My error is the way I saw life opening up in his flesh and I was aghast, and I saw the substance of life, placenta and blood, the living mud. In Mineirinho my way of living burst. How could I not love him, if he lived up till the thirteenth gunshot the very thing that I had been sleeping? His frightened violence. His innocent violence — not in its consequences, but innocent in itself as that of a son whose father neglected him. Everything that was violence in him is furtive in us, and we avoid each other’s gaze so as not to run the risk of understanding each other. So that the house won’t tremble. The violence bursting in Mineirinho that only another man’s hand, the hand of hope, resting on his stunned and wounded head, could appease and make his startled eyes lift and at last fill with tears. Only after a man is found inert on the ground, without his cap or shoes, do I see that I forgot to tell him: me too.

I don’t want this house. I want a justice that would have given a chance to something pure and full of helplessness in Mineirinho — that thing that moves mountains and is the same as what made him love a woman “like a madman,” and the same that led him through a doorway so narrow that it slashes into nakedness; it is a thing in us as intense and transparent as a dangerous gram of radium, that thing is a grain of life that if trampled is transformed into something threatening — into trampled love; that thing, which in Mineirinho became a knife, it is the same thing in me that makes me offer another man water, not because I have water, but because, I too, know what thirst is; and I too, who have not lost my way, have experienced perdition. Prior justice, that would not make me ashamed. It was past time for us, with or without irony, to be more divine; if we can guess what God’s benevolence might be it is because we guess at benevolence in ourselves, whatever sees the man before he succumbs to the sickness of crime. I go on, nevertheless, waiting for God to be the father, when I know that one man can be father to another. And I go on living in my weak house. That house, whose protective door I lock so tightly, that house won’t withstand the first gale that will send a locked door flying through the air. But it is standing, and Mineirinho lived rage on my behalf, while I was calm. He was gunned down in his disoriented strength, while a god fabricated at the last second hastily blesses my composed wrongdoing and my stupefied justice: what upholds the walls of my house is the certainty that I shall always vindicate myself, my friends won’t vindicate me, but my enemies who are my accomplices, they will greet me; what upholds me is knowing that I shall always fabricate a god in the image of whatever I need in order to sleep peacefully, and that others will furtively pretend that we are all in the right and that there is nothing to be done.

All this, yes, for we are the essential phonies, bastions of some thing. And above all trying not to understand. Because the one who understands disrupts. There is something in us that would disrupt everything — a thing that understands. That thing that stays silent before the man without his cap or shoes, and to get them he robbed and killed; and stays silent before Saint George of gold and diamonds. That very serious thing in me grows more serious still when faced with the man felled by machine guns. Is that thing the killer inside me? No, it is the despair inside us. Like madmen, we know him, that dead man in whom the gram of radium caught fire. But only like madmen, and not phonies, do we know him. It is as a madman that I enter a life that so often has no doorway, and as a madman that I comprehend things dangerous to comprehend, and only as a madman do I feel deep love, that is confirmed when I see that the radium will radiate regardless, if not through trust, hope and love, then miserably through the sick courage of destruction. If I weren’t mad, I’d be eight hundred policemen with eight hundred machine guns, and this would be my honorableness.

Until a slightly madder justice came along. One that would take into account that we all must speak for a man driven to despair because in him human speech has already failed, he is already so mute that only a brute incoherent cry serves as signal. A prior justice that would recall how our great struggle is that of fear, and that a man who kills many does so because he was very much afraid. Above all a justice that would examine itself, and see that all of us, living mud, are dark, and that is why not even one man’s wrongdoing can be surrendered to another man’s wrongdoing: so that this other man cannot commit, freely and with approbation, the crime of gunning someone down. A justice that does not forget that we are all dangerous, and that the moment that the deliverer of justice kills, he is no longer protecting us or trying to eliminate a criminal, he is committing his own personal crime, one long held inside him. At the moment he kills a criminal — in that instant an innocent is killed. No, it’s not that I want the sublime, nor for things to turn into words to make me sleep peacefully, a combination of forgiveness, of vague charity, we who seek shelter in the abstract.

What I want is much rougher and more difficult: I want the land.

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‘Mineirinho” By Clarice Lispector, translation by Katrina Dodson, from COMPLETE STORIES, copyright ©1951, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1978, 2010, 2015 by the Heirs of Clarice Lispector, translation copyright © 2015 by Katrina Dodson. Use by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

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“Funerary Monument to Gerónimo Calbo” – Luis Felipe Fabre

Funerary Monument to Gerónimo Calbo
trimmed with allegorical flowers and presided over by verbal statues
of Apollo and Hyacinth

1

O Hyacinth, beautiful Spartan of Apollo
the favorite: be careful!

a hand of wind
is lifting your tunic

O Zephyr, winged youth, the west winds
behold: the wind being yours
it’s not yours

the air
that Hyacinth
exhales with sweet sighs of love

“Ay Apollo, ay Phoebus, ay my little sun.”

2

Jealous breath of breath: the wind
Zephyr of invisible eyes
spies the lovers: they are practicing track and field!

Apollo
hurls the disc, yet its path
blows a sudden Zephyr and cruelly throws it off course

careful, Hyacinth, careful!

Ay, before carefulness,
in this olympics of the split-second
the disc reaches
the finish line: laurel wreaths for revenge

Ay, the disc
that split open the young man’s forehead
atrocious red lips for the kiss of death

3

Marble of dread
and marble of pain:

Apollo
by himself
an impromptu statue

At his feet,
Hyacinth: a beautiful fountain streaming blood

In the background,
as props, three or four centaurs,
complete the pause

4

The blood of Hyacinth and the tears of Apollo
are wed in liquid nuptials

tears of semen
then tears that impregnate and suddenly: flowers: flowers!

Flowers are born from the blood of Hyacinth!

Flowers that die once summer arrives:
mortals, like Hyacinth.

Flowers that are reborn once spring arrives:
immortals like Apollo.

Flowers that struggle between father and father,
yet, in the end, flowers that settle
as vegetal monuments

to the memory of Hyacinth: dead in the flower of his youth

5

All that is lost
returns as something else in drag
For example: beneath the silhouette of a flowering hyacinth

Hyacinth: spring-flowering bulbous plant
belonging to the lilac family.

Hyacinth:
from the Latin hyacinthus; the Greek
υάκινθος (hyákinzos) which means flower of ay.

Ay: everything returns
but translated into another language: unrecognizable.

6

Hyacinth:
the morning of Tuesday
November 6, 1658
Gerónimo Calbo was driven into the bonfire

Hyacinth:
Gerónimo Calbo
mestizo, 23 years old, a tailor
accused of the abominable sin of sodomy

Hyacinths: this has nothing to do with the hyacinths
Gerónimo Calbo, if anything
it has to do with the weeds
if anything

with nothing. And with the dry herbs
that fed the fire in which he burned.

But we are in spring
and once again the hyacinths bloom.

For Gerónimo Calbo
this wreath of hyacinths, hyacinths, hyacinths.

Gerónimo Calbo
All they did for him was transform him into ash
and he has no more of a tomb than the wind of Mexico City.

 

(translated from the Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky. Originally published in Flores para los muertos / Flowers for the dead. Juan de la Cosa, 2016).

Picture 16

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Luis Felipe Fabre is a Mexican poet and essayist, born in Mexico City in 1974. He has published Leyendo agujeros. Ensayos sobre (des)escritura, antiescritura y no escritura (2005), Cabaret Provenza (2007), La sodomía en la Nueva España (2010) and Poemas de terror y de misterio (2013). He lives and works in Mexico City.

“Lapse” (excerpts) – Mia You

Lapse is a response to public discussions in the United States on abortion, women’s rights regarding their own bodies, the conditions of motherhood, and legal “personhood” (which corporations are granted in some cases, and women not in others). It pursues the question: What does it mean to be a truly “good” mother under these conditions? What if one sees the choice not as “Do I keep the pregnancy or not?” but as “Do I keep myself viable or not?”

– Note from the author

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Mia You was born in South Korea, raised in the United States, and currently lives in the Netherlands. She is the author of I, Too, Dislike It (1913 Press, 2016) and Objective Practice (Achiote Press, 2007). With Chloe Garcia-Roberts, she is the co-founder/editor of A. BRADSTREET. She is also on the editorial board of Perdu, an experimental literary podium in Amsterdam, and a contributing editor at The Critical Flame.