Monday, October 31, 2011

Eduardo Cote Lamus / An Der Gewesenheit

By Eduardo Cote Lamus
Translated by Laura Chalar

“It was thus”. “Here it happened”. “There it was”.
“If we walk to our left . . .”
“. . .  further . . .” And the Berlin night was alert
in her eyes. From her long blond hair,
sheer hair, the past fell down again.
Nothing was there but the tremendous stump
of the ruins. But there,
through the present there flowed to her mouth
ancient words. “On that window that doesn’t exist
light fell as if on a lake”.

The Spree begins slowly, almost without moving
throws on its banks a city;
a man arrived, threw the harpoon
and beside him, next to the pile of fish
there came commerce. Then the bridge was built
and the river had shade other than the forest’s.

In the past there is a dead future;
that is why there is another name for this:
the dream. And one begins by turning one’s eyes,
as if by eating bread
we traced the course of flour.

“Here this was different”. And I knew
by the warmth in her hand that that had been
different. “I never knew it”. And I knew
that she herself was more than her words.
The hollowed-out asphalt. The sad silence
of her words, comparable only to the drum
of stars in the night.

In the Ostberlin there is a faceless
house on the Eberwälderstrasse.
Shrapnel has destroyed its features,
but lovingly on that
tragedy flowerpots burst
with migratory flowers planted
by the hands of careful women.
Maybe it is nothing more than remote
hope, the rumor of colors
or the committed candor of ancient warrior lovers
holding each other under the bombs.

“It is the time”, she said, and her voice was like
an old photograph, like
the shadow of herself in childhood.
“If you throw a stone it would have hit
the window exactly . . .”
An autumn once passed that place by.

But time in Berlin falls just like
a hopeless stone
into loneliness. In her hands the caress
was like a log for a shipwrecked man
and the love running down her skin
fell into bed with me, unleashing
the lost visions, the memories she didn’t have,
the dread in search for company.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Eduardo Cote Lamus / Impossible Poem

Photo by Waclaw Wantuch|

By Eduardo Cote Lamus
Translated by Laura Chalar

Let my touch know you for the last time
because I want to learn your face by heart,
because I want to start a poem with:
“In Segovia, on a night of towers, my soul could not,
was unable . . .”

Let me, yes, let me.
Let me at least tire your footprints
for this face-scented pillow
because I want to make a bird out of your skin
to awaken my dead heart.

I loved you head on, completely
and watched myself at length in your hands
seeking to grant forgiveness to my ancient thirst for a shore.

This way for this rose-faced sadness
as if the color carried my barefoot pain.
Sometimes there comes to me a silence of bells
always, always whistling under your skin…

You approached my life like a lone vegetable
stretching your eyes up to the tree’s fullness.
My life was simple, humble,
tender clay to the touch.

Now I am but a blind spring
fleeing the shadow in your gaze.
It’s true that everything was useless and painful;
a pity that you didn’t love me:
it’s been the greatest what a pity in the world.

But come, come near and die a little in my words.
Despite everything you’re my love, my you, my never.

And I can no longer cope with this fateless hollow
weighing inside me like God on the grass.
For neither can I cope with this taste of you in my lips.

Yes: in Segovia the sap died suddenly.
And I could not,
was unable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eduardo Cote Lamus / Death

Leo Fusca
By Eduardo Cote Lamus

Translated by Laura Chalar

Every man carries inside him a ripe death.
Sometimes it’s small and can be painted

In others it has the same
size as the body and creaks with each step as if it walked
on crutches.

But there is someone on whom death can be smelled
at a distance, like the mills’
honey in the time of grinding:
it fills his actions, senses, love, glory,
hatred or impotence.

Death is the house where he lives
and it’s seen from afar, made out from the road,
heard with the rumor of a cloak in the smile
or of a winding-sheet in the exultant word.
The only thing that one owns is the past.
Sometimes years, other times short whiles, minutes maybe.
An instant can be the whole past.

And it’s before the man. To him it reaches out,
to him it runs. What is sought,
actually, is not the future but the meeting.

And the finding is nothing but returning oneself
to what has been dreamed, just as the word
is sought to find it in the objects
or memory in the flyleaves of a book
open like life.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Eduardo Cote Lamus / Two Poems

By Eduardo Cote Lamus

Translated by Laura Chalar


Your word falls into loneliness like an olive branch
into peace. I did not know
that your voice would arrive with stars.
You are my war cry
against death.
Now a tree grows where oblivion
closes its eyes.


I suffered the light, had a forehead
like a newly-made morning;
then came the shadow and planted in me,
without my noticing, the bitter sign:
words would thereafter be
a vision of the world pulled down
in dreams; one must sing
because a new Cain is being a poet.
I sold myself as a slave in order for
my master to govern my actions;
it so happens that love made me more alone
and my master couldn’t bear his guilt.
Lazy freedman, yes, manumitted
from myself; a shadow I am of what is real;
but neither can I realize
what is happening around me.
The bad thing is feeling the dream pass
through eyes and chest
and not being able to tell what happens.
Yes: for this word I am writing
I will be later tried, executed;
no defence against death will be
my task of telling, of saying things,
this dying in each word, this
seeing ashes where life is.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eduardo Cote Lamus / Elegy for my father

El Naranjo, 2008
Photo by Triunfo Arciniegas

By Eduardo Cote Lamus
Translated by Laura Chalar

For my siblings
Once he lay down, he took to dying as
he had formerly taken to living,
to cutting down the eucalyptuses and building the house
and he lay down to die because he knew
he wouldn’t make it beyond there.

Once, when the oxen became tired
of plowing, had not he himself worn
the yoke upon his neck and shoulders?
And the task was completed long before
the shadows came and the stars.
He also had to finish his business
wholly, and no matter what.

In his right hand, firmness
as if wielding a weapon
or directing the furrow or drawing
the circle of his life, closed,
arbitrary, but as entirely his own
as the walking stick of rough wood,
as the hat or the shoes
or the clothes he wore, already his
and made by him, as were his actions.

His greatest wealth was watching the colts
galloping freely under the wide sky
or lassoing one of them with well-aimed whistling,
marking its flank and giving it a name,
an easy name: Finehoof, Sweetdream, The Dove,
saddling the mule, talking about frosts.

The land came to him but not to his aid.
And he said words, asked
about friends who weren’t there
and from his arms that came and went
as if fanning the blacksmith’s fire
of his own existence, strength
fell, and sweat like anvils, power;
from his embraces there fell the days
he lived, one by one, gushing down.

But he died because he felt like it,
because he had things to do on the other side
with his wife, the one who had the days
ready for his work,
sweetness in the morning, the bread served
within reach of the heart, the window open
when, ground into wheat, he returned from the fields.

I tell you not, yet I must tell you:
we brought you to a house with dearest
friends, stayed with you, you know,
and the next day you had three burials
as was your due: come the morning
you were called even more Pablo, you answered
more to your name: you were silence.

Airborne we put you into the hands
of other memories, and your earth was then
so close. Upriver, among climates,
you turned to stone in our breasts,
you sank deeper and deeper inside us,
you were in our breasts and leaving.

You entered Pamplona as if
on horseback: we held the colt by the bridles
and you dismounted as always, among cypresses.

Because you were too high, your sisters
couldn’t see you – one of them brought a bench
on which they climbed and called you Pablo Antonio,
they gradually called you Pablo between their tears.

But you showed your back, like a river.
On the slope your body became leaden:
a little later the weight was light
as if you had yourself lent a hand
and carried yourself to be buried.

We put you inside with care, with flowers, with tenderness.
I think you had between your hands
a rope and a spinning top and an ear of wheat
and a rumor of much sky inside your ears.

You know very well what I’m telling you
but still I tell you. There were
hat in hand
despite the drizzle
all those who loved you:
the one who sold you meat,
the one who bought your wheat
and the hoe-man whom you respected.

Did you find peace there? That is my question.
But I should not ask you anything.
You didn’t want peace but the hard
earth to sow, the air to
vanquish with trees, difficult things.

Old peasant. Father mine,
in word and in deed like iron:
so one-time and so forever:
old man on horseback, tough old man.

Pablo and nothing more you were, and we are Pablo.
Father, how little of an Antonio you were.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Anne Sexton / Seven Poems

Janee Porter
The Sold Key 2010
Homage to Anne Sexton

by Anne Sexton

Wanting to die

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.
Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.
But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
Twice I have so simply declared myself,
have possessed the enemy eaten the enemy,
have taken on his craft, his magic.
In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
warmer than oil or water,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.
I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
Suicides have already betrayed the body.
Still-born, they don't always die,
but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet
that even children would look on an smile.
To thrust all that life under your tongue!
that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
Death's a sad bone; bruised, you´d say,
and yet she waits for me, year after year,
to so delicately undo an old wound,
to empty my breath from its bad prison.
Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,
leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
something unsaid, the phone off the hook
and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

The assassin

The correct death is written in.
I will fill the need.
My bow is stiff.
My bow is in readiness.
I am the bullet and the hook.
I am cocket and held ready.
In my sights I carve him
like a sculptor. I mold out
his last look at everyone.
I carry his eyes and his
brain bone at every position.
I know his male sex and I do
march over him with my index finger.
His mouth and his anus are one.
I am at the center of feeling.
A subway train is
traveling across my crossbow
I have a blood bolt
and I have made it mine.
With this man I take in hand
his destiny and with this gun
I take in hand the newspapers and
with my heat I will take him.
He will bend down toward me
and his veins will tumble out
like children... Give me
his flag and his eye.
Give me his hard shell and his lip.
He es my evil and my apple and
I will see him home.

The firebombers

We are America.
We are the coffin fillers.
We are the grocers of death.
We pack them in crates like cauliflowers.
The bomb opens like a shoebox.
And the child?
The child is certainly not yawning.
And the woman?
The woman is bathing her heart.
It has been torn out of her
and because it is burnt
and as a last act
she is rinsing it off in the river.
This is the death market.
where are your credentials?


Oh you brown bacon machine,
how sweet you lie,
gaining a pound and a half a day,
you rolled-up pair of socks,
you dog's nightmare,
your snout pushed in
but leaking out the ears,
your eyes as soft as eggs,
hog, big as a cannon,
how sweet you lie.
I lie in my bed at night
in the closet of my mind
and count hogs in a pen,
brown, spotted, white, pink, black,
moving on the shuttle toward death
just as my mind moves over
for its own little death.

The ballad of the lonely masturbator

The end of the affair is always death.
She's my workshop. Slippery eye,
out of the tribe of myself my breath
finds you gone. I horrify
thouse who stand by. I am fed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed
Finger to finger, now she's mine.
She's not too far. She's my encounter.
I beat her like a bell. I recline
in the bower where you used to mount her.
You borrowed me on the flowered spread.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Take for instance this night, my love,
that every single couple puts together
with a joint overturning, beneath, above,
the abundant two on sponge an feather,
kneeling and pushing, head to head.
At night alone, I marry the bed.
Ibreak out of my body this way,
an annoying miracle. Could I
put the dream market on display?
I am spread out. I crucify.
My little plum is that you said.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Then my black-eyed rival came.
The lady of water, rising on the beach,
a piano at her fingertips, shame
on her lips and a flute's speech.
And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
She took you the way a woman takes
a bargain dress off the rack
and I broke the way a stone breaks.
I give back your books and fishing tack.
Today's paper says that you are wed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
The boys an girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies.
They take off shoes. They turn off the light.
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other. They are overfed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Music swims back to me

Wait Mister. Which way is home?
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
There are no signs post in this room,
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, oh music swims back to me
and I can feel the tune they played
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.
Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy
I like it and danced in a circle.
Music pours over the sense
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;
even the stars were strapped in the sky
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.
They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.
and there are no signs to tell the way,
just the radio beating to itself
and the song that remembers
more than I. Oh, la la la,
this music swims back to me.
the night I came I danced a circle
and was not afraid.

The Kiss

My mouth blooms like a cut.
I´ve been wronged all year, tedious
nights, nothing but rough elbows in them
and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby
crybaby, you fool!
Before today my body was useless.
Now it´s tearing at its square corners.
It´s tearing old Mary´s garments off, knot by knot
and see -- Now it´s shot full of these electric bolts.
Zing! A resurrection!
Once it was a boat, quite wooden
and with no business, no salt water under it
and in need of some paint. It was no more
than a group of boards. But you hoisted her, rigged her.
Shés been elected.
My nerves are turned on. I hear them like
musical intruments. Where there was silence
the drums, the strings are incurably playing. You did this.
Pure genius at work. Darling, the composer has stepped
into fire.

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