Sunday, January 1, 2017

Poems y Poemas

Phone on Vibrate

Oh God! That sound – not again, have mercy!
Like a hornet, like a drill, I hear it, curse me!
Just ignore it, says a voice – devilish, winking
But I know by now I cannot do whatever
it is thinking
And already my shoulders droop, already
I wilt
For even once it’s gone, comes the new drone–
Of guilt!

El amigo soltero debe morir

El amigo soltero debe morir
Esta es mi solo verdad
No hay una problema
Sencillamente explico la sistema
Y si un se sigue la regla, se sabe
El amigo soltero debe morir

Él (o, con frecuencia, ella)
Es útil – no, quiero decir – está amado
Te da ayuda muchísima
Por toda su infancia
Pero cuando es tiempo a desaparecer
Partirá como un luz crecientemente oscuro
Con un sonriese misterio de alegría
Sobre la placer de sus amigas perdidas
Quienes ‘la aman,’ pero ya la han olivado.

Como si decir – los que no pueden tener la vida
En la vida después;
O a través de las generaciones y
Las propagaciones (o varios otros métodos habituales) 
También deben no tener la vida ahora,
En esto mundo
La vida aquí es un lujo
Un lujo demasiado costoso!
Así pronto morirte, con gusto!

La excepción sola que he encontrado, si usted desea saberlo
(y probablemente, no lo quiere, porque usted está casada con felicidad)
Es cuando ella sirve bien la amiga que un día será casada
Tal vez, pues, se la concede la vida.

Pero si sobrevive su utilidad
Porque la otra ha encontrado la felicidad
Con algún vulgar tonto u otro
Entonces, caída la sentencia
y tiemblan todas las solteras a oír
(Ya usted sabe la frase que viene –)

La amiga soltera debe morir!


Strangely, today, as if impelled I took
One stop more than was necessary on
The subway and was
The subject unwitting
Of a prank – filmed, all – will it go
viral? –
Once I detrained – almost as if, at each stage,
I contemplated turning back and did not, but chose
To take the fall – I mean
Why was I even
there at all? 
I realize that
There are humiliations in life but some
Seem less necessary than others and this
Could so well
not have happened, nor been
For posterity (and at once is lost
Another over-covering of armor, see it
Slip away and I –
Am now shorter, smaller – I have none of that
Strong strength of strongness I have cultivated
none of that – )
I find
That cruelty always confronts me (when it rarely does)
With a delayed force as if
I can’t quite believe it – from you? For me? But why? Por qué?
Why me? Why now? Why on this train that I
Might not have taken
 – perhaps
I did something to deserve it? – I indulge
In an internal audit
How hard it is to accept the ancient wisdom after all
That the world contains wolves behind their walls
There are wolves out there who will hurt you, child
You may not believe it but there are there are
There are wolves there child
There are


After having finally managed
To wrest some happiness out of life, you hold it
In the palm of your hand, like a light
And try to show it to others, thinking
They will be pleased
But instead they shrink from you, as if diminished
As if joy – though much sentimentalized – can only arrive
When taken from someone else.
And that’s when you realize that life is 
A great rhinoceros – master
The riding of it in one direction and its horn
Arches up from the other – for
No sooner have you found that
Most obscure thing – happiness
Than up from behind comes the new thing – Ouch!


… how fearful
As you guess that again it begins
-- Anna Akhmatova (Thomas trans.)

With what terror the precipice one over-peers
When the gears and grind of love start again – o painful!; the years
Since the last time are as nothing at all, impossible to recall
As if all the books read and thoughts thought and deeds all
Admired in the interval
Were just a way
To pass the time and now have resumed
Their proper place of unreality before
The tyrant holds sway, that
Dreadful imperative – always with me
(not so for others I have found)
They regarded it as a crime, and when
The hot spurs began, they would
Avert their eyes in shame; they too knew, this was wrong
And I say “I told you so! I told you so!”


The New Breed 

So easy it is to frame
A reputation for being an “intellectual”
On the thinnest list of referents, take a pick
Of Strauss or Berdyaev it’s all the same 
And you need not have more than one.
Then this, tell to
An interviewer or two
And now you’ve got it made – “True, this one’s
A white supremacist fascist stooge
But a new breed of one – cause he’s smart, you see
He’s on his anti-atomist Thomist spree”
With ideas that would have been
Cause for scorn
‘Cept no one realizes
Whence they were born
In all such ways do the creeps hoodwink
With truisms over again the tired old sink
Of mainstream opinion, “I didn’t know
Folks had ever thought this stuff before, and though
It reeks of rotten planks of the sinking ship of state…” –
Oh Lord, I pray, let me not let go my hate
But press it closer to my heart like grace
Often has it steered me wrong to trust
The angel of guttering wisdom,
Its reasons, the delight, of every sage
In every age; but never
Have I cause to regret
My kind red devil of rage
Which ever replenishes, that noble fount
My contempt for this and every new breed.


Justification by Faith

“Bertrand’s speech […] had annoyed him in more ways than he’d have believed possible.”
~ Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim

In the course of the vote on a resolution somewhere
Condemning the demolition of Palestinian houses
And the like
Someone I never could stand – and not for any good reason –
And whom all other people insistently liked a great deal –
Sat down in front of me and
His face lighting up with wicked rage and
Not caring that – no, actually, demanding that – I could hear him
Said in a shouting whisper, “This vote’ll be great –
You know what’s a fantastic idea? Let’s convince everyone we’re Anti-Semites!”
Sarcasm, you see.
Because Palestinians not having their houses get demolished
Is Anti-Semitic; indeed, it may well be the case,
That their very existence is Anti-Semitic
Those unapologetically living things.
And from me flicks out not only
The expected lizard’s tongue of fury, at these words
But also an unbidden glow of triumph.
A relief to know, I guess,

That one needn’t have been more generous in one’s estimation.


When reading a product
  Of my pen, I compare
The draft original with one I shared
With markers editorial, and
  I despair
To see my crystalline prose, now pock-marked
  By infamous gash or tear
As if one could spot
  Each pace along
  The smooth immaculate shore
The eruption occasional of stupidity
 “Yeek, That was not mine – but yours!”
 Any fortuitous insight, that was wheeled round
  With consummate limpidity
Has here been shrouded in the dark of meanness and 
 A sword-stroke of genius, prenatally
 Do they not realize
    Each word was chosen
Because it could not possibly be


 Isn’t it amazing how some human beings –
    At once announce themselves as simply awful?
    And spare you any uncertainty?
They are few, you'll be relieved
I've met two, I believe
 (Both male)
And that was enough.

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