“[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

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

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.


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 . . .

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.
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.
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.



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:

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 ___________.”

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.

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

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.)

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.”

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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?”

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.

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.

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?)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Give a stranger a poetry broadside.

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.)

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

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.”

Close eyes and think of an embarrassment from the past. Imagine the former self in the middle of the situation shrugging and laughing.

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.

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.)

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.”

Chew each mouthful of my supper 36 times, meditating on food cells becoming my own cells of Yoko-Crystal infusion.

Watch sunset over the desert at end of Third Street while giving myself Reiki.

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.

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?”

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.”

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.

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.


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

   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

“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


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.”


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

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


Marble of dread
and marble of pain:

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


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


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.

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

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


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

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


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









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.

“Tróiades” [fragments] – Guilherme Gontijo Flores

Cabaret Wittgenstein presents a few fragments from Brazilian poet and translator Guilherme Gontijo Flores’ project Tróiades.

Guilherme Gontijo Flores

this poem-website is entirely a collage between voices of the defeated, even if they can only arise through the voice of the victors, mixed with and partly indissociate from the victors, like a possibility of history, when the defeated speaks, who speaks for her, who speaks through him, who could in reality occupy this space? every encounter of fragmentary cuttings suggests discourse, not a clear voice, not a from whom, or a for whom—without just a dichotomy between the hangman and the victim, but even then like a monument to the unterminated massacre of history: from Troy, archetype of the defeated, to Canudos, this mother of today’s favelas, where the defeated remain to see out their days; from slavery, immemorial and ubiquitous, to the indigenous, still silenced in our discourse, the names would never end, unless perhaps for some eventual tikkun for the rags of this pain.

The texts were cut, freely translated, reworked and rearranged from three ancient tragedies:
Hecuba, by Euripides (424 BC) [referenced as H];
Troiades, by Euripides (415 BC) [T];
Troades, by Seneca (c. 54-64 AD) [S];
and the aphorism 9 taken from “Über den Begriff der Geschichte” (1940), by Walter Benjamin [W].

We proceed here to present a few fragments from the composition. The English edition of Tróiades was translated by Rob Packer in June and July 2016.

at 3200 years from the burning of Troy;
2160 years from the obliteration of Carthage;
807 years from the siege of Béziers;
524 years of the extermination of Native America;
371 years from the butchery of Yangzhou;
119 years from the war of Canudos;
101 years from the Armenian genocide;
84 years from the holodomor in Ukraine;
78 years from the rape of Nanking;
76 years from the foundation of Auschwitz-Birkenau;
71 years from Hiroshima & Nagasaki;
34 years from the massacre of Hama;
22 years from the Rwanda genocide;
13 years from the Darfur conflict;
the inestimable time of the enslavement of man by man.


Fragments from Tróiades


But what limbs does the cliff face leave us?
Bones unpieced
undid themselves in the fall
his body’s illustrious marks
the face the features of a noble father
everything the thud on the deep
earth confused
in the tumble his neck snapped
his open head exhaled
his brain
a body
lying there
In this too
just like his father

[S 1110]



In this service as herald it would be better
to be a man without compassion
more used to shamelessness
unlike me

The closeness of death
fells the best words

[T 786. S 575]



Shaking shaking
Spread this trail of blood
to the grim
last days of life

[T 1330]


The good soldier

At least I saved you the trouble
of crossing the scamander’s flow
washed the corpse
cleaned the wounds

Now let me dig his grave
and it’s over for us
job done
catch the boat home soon

[T 1155]



No law spares the conquered
or overrules his punishment

and now you say it’d be inauspicious
to sacrifice the virgins?

[S 333, 331]


The good soldier

When they invaded our shores
they died without missing
the earth and hearth of the fatherland

Whoever war annihilated
never saw his children
never received last rites from the hands
of his wife
and now lies exposed on foreign land
fed on by birds of prey

The great strategist
for what he hates most
kills what he loves most

At home woe does not change
for those who stay
wife without husband
another orphaned of her son
at home
gave birth for nothing
in the grave no one
to sacrifice their blood for this land

[T 370]


The most beautiful thing

Why bother calling the gods
if they never listen?
Let’s run under the snipers
today the most beautiful thing
is dying in a napalmed country

The blacked-out sun in the smog
and no flame can singe
victory’s thieving fingers

Hobble on your stumps
salute your barrel-bombed city
as best you can

[T 1280, 1275. S 17]



There is no trench for these tears

[S 812]



Bury the body
in a tomb
for he has won
his funeral garlands

For the dead I think
it doesn’t matter much
if he received funeral rites

It’s all vanity of vanities
ostentation for the living

[T 1245]


The good soldier

These ones think death makes up for the ships’ delay Those are glad to see an enemy fall The fickle majority detests all crime and looks on

[S 1126]



About the composition:

The music “Genocide — Symphonic Holocaust” is from the album Blut und Nebel (2005), by Maurizio Bianchi, taken from Wikicommons.

the photographs, also cut and altered, were chosen from Wikicommons:
1. Genius of grief, carving, 2nd century AD, by anonymous;
2. Will Brown lynched and burnt, 1919, by anonymous;
3. Porušena, Borovnica, 1944, by anonymous;
4. Slave girl bound in Tunisia, c. 1900, by Lehnert & Landrock;
5. Jews murdered in Kiev, 1942, by anonymous;
6. Dead Confederate soldier, 1864, by anonymous;
7. German soldiers killed in the Battle of Bastogne, 1944, by anonymous;
8. Russian soldiers in the Russo-Japanese War, 1905, by Victor Bulla;
9. Children hanged in a tree, Italy, 1923, by anonymous;
10. Cannibals, during the famine in Russia, 1921, by anonymous;
11. Enslaved Native Americans, 19th century, by anonymou;
12. Young German girl in front of 800 slaves murdered by the SS, 1945, by anonymous;
13. Tomb of Inês de Castro (1360), by André Luís;
14. Poland, 1939, by Julien Bryan;
15. American Civil War, 1865, by Thomas Roche;
16. Lynching of Laura Nelson, 1911, by G. H. Farnum, postcard;
17. Operation Barbarossa, dead Russian soldier, 1941, by anonymous;
18. Russian soldiers in an open grave, 1905, by Underwood & Underwood;
19. A long geographic shadow, 2008, by Evelyn Simak;
20. Slave in Mississippi, 1863, by MacPherson & Oliver;
21. Dead Crow Indians, 1874, by anonymous;
22. Delia, slave in Columbia, 1850, by J. T. Zealy;
23. Dresden bombed, Germany, 1945, by Richard Peter;
24. Survivors from Canudos, 1897, by Flávio de Barros; and
25. Tombs of Palmyra, Syria, 1935, by Pierre Antoine Berrurier, aerial photo.


Guilherme Gontijo Flores is a Brazilian poet and translator, born in Brasília in 1984. He published brasa enganosa (2013), and ranslated, among others, Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) and Roman poet Sextus Propertius. Guilherme Gontijo Flores lives in the outskurts of Curitiba, in a farm house designed by himself, with his wife and two children.