jueves, 7 de diciembre de 2017

Sara (II), CR-VocalesV

Woman, Sweden 1943

There are a lot of things in the suburbs,
there is Molly, a beautiful 10 year-old dog
who walks with Renzo, his owner, for hours
she always says hello, if you talk to her in French.
There is the old winery where we taste the wine
once a month for free to control the quality.
There is Peter’s farm where once a week I volunteer
to help with the ducks, the chickens, and the goats.
And there’s also fresh bread and tarts from Julie’s bakery.
Above all there is sadness,
and nonstop walks in empty streets
where I search for something that I can almost grasp
 but it always slips away.
Perhaps this is what I am bound to face in the suburbs,
in its quiet fields, and its pink sunsets,
this burdensome reality of inner desperation,
and this chronic disease of disaster.
Sometimes during my walks,
I think of Sara and her beautiful smile
with her crooked front teeth
and how we met at the gym that summer,
a summer whose memories
slowly died this winter.
Who would I be had I chosen a different life?
Such questions open the gates of existential chaos,
how could I possibly know at this point of my life?
I keep hoping for something to happen, I sit and wait quietly,
then memories fly in front of me like amputated birds searching for food.
She opened the curtain of the shower, almost violently,
I happened to be right in front putting my things in the locker.
I couldn’t help but look straight into her wet breasts
and the drops of water falling in slow motion from her bush,
she didn’t react, I diverted my gaze and left.
I had seen her before with that Zen-like attitude,
her hair so blonde it looked almost grey, her androgynous face
without makeup, her smart smile and her timid “good mornings.”
She was beautiful, in a totally awkward way,
always the first one to arrive, in a big blue pick-up truck.
One morning, after months of chit-chatting
and peeking at each other’s’ bodies in the change-room,
she kissed me in front of the mirror while I blow dried my hair,
I grabbed her head and returned the embrace,
“Let’s go for coffee tomorrow,” she said, casually. 
I didn’t know much about her, I knew she was
in her late thirties, and worked as a librarian for the fine arts library.
I also knew she was addicted to black coffee and blueberries,
and that she cleaned the floors of her apartment
with vinegar because she had a cat and refused to use detergent. 
The day of our appointment I was running awfully late.
I caught her right when she was about to leave,
I saw her empty cup and a few blueberries on a plate.
“I’m sorry” I said with a smile,
and kissed her on her lips as if making a statement.
We sat down, our knees were touching,
“My boyfriend is coming to town next week,
he is looking forward to meet you.”
I will never forget the smile in her eyes,
“I am looking forward too.”

CR -VocalesV

miércoles, 6 de diciembre de 2017

martes, 5 de diciembre de 2017

Miracle by Diana Goetsch from In America


We are saved only by miracles.
-Nadezhda Mandelstam

The closest I’ve come to a miracle was Lisa Macy
knocking on my door at midnight
saying, “I don’t want to sleep alone.”

I guess I didn’t pay attention to the default
in that: she didn’t say she wanted to sleep
with me, but perhaps this made it

All the more miraculous: I of all people
happened to be behind a door
knocked on at midnight by Lisa Macy.

Three months before, she let me kiss her
in her car, and afterwards swore
she felt nothing, which I knew was true

Because I felt her feel nothing.
It was like kissing a stuffed doll,
a beautiful stuffed doll about five foot three

With the most magnificent breasts
you could ever dream up, breasts
she kept covered with her hands

When she took off her nightshirt
and got into my bed, and kept them covered
even as she kissed me, this time hungrily.

We read about such women in Anna Karenina
and Tess of the D’Ubervilles. She lived
with her alcoholic parents in a small, dilapidated house

In Dogtown, St. Louis. All winter
I asked her to stay with me in my apartment
near a freight yard at a nameless college

In Oklahoma, where I was a Poet-
in-Captivity. She finally called in May –
her car was packed, she was heading west,

And wondered if she could stop for a night.
“Sure,” I said, baffled. By then
I’d given up hope, which I think she sensed,

And was why she called.
I fed her, gave her the guest room,
gave her linen, bid her goodnight,

A perfect gentleman, like Cary Grant
in a black and white film–
that switched to Technicolor

With a knock on a door that
pulled me out of a deep sleep
into the walking dream of Lisa Macy.

Was there ever a miracle that didn’t
emerge from a fog or dust storm,
the sound of a freight train on a sheltering night,

A woman with hands to knock but not
to love – they were too busy hiding
the cuts and scars across a mutilated chest,

Which I swear didn’t matter, not until she began
doing to me what life had done to her.
Lisa Macy, St. Lisa from St. Louis, why

Couldn’t you have been stitched just a little tighter,
enough to see yourself as worthy of miracles?
Why couldn’t I have been yours?

Diana Goetsch

sábado, 2 de diciembre de 2017

Clarice Lispector, Amor

Clarice Lispector

The cruelty of the world was tranquil. The murder was deep. And death was not what we thought.

- Clarice Lispector

Simone Weil Gravity and Grace

Remedios Varo - Mother

Art has no immediate future because all art is collective and there is no more collective life (there are only dead collections of people).

-Simone Weil

viernes, 1 de diciembre de 2017

James Baldwin, from Another Country

But it’s not possible to forget anybody you were that hung up on, who was that hung up on you. You can’t forget anything that hurt so badly, went so deep, and changed the world forever. It’s not possible to forget anybody you’ve destroyed.

-James Baldwin

sábado, 25 de noviembre de 2017

During the bombing of Kosovo, Alicia Ostriker

Hevel may be translated vanity
or mist or vapor
the name of the first man
whose brother was not his keeper

It is evening it is morning one day
like mist from ten thousand feet
above the hills bombs fall
like vapor the thin air
is full of them
roads crawl with tanks soldiers
like mist tens of thousands
of refugees cross the border
like vapor from morning to dusk
unmanned families
like mist women in slippers
children in bare feet
like vapor carrying blankets
suitcases of clothes
like mist money
ripped off by border guards

Not new under the sun
not new on throbbing bluelit screen
but the eye tires of seeing
the ear of hearing
oh we still prepare our feast
of liberty and memory
we remain your children

And you, you—
father of rain
what are you thinking

- Alicia Ostriker

Anita Brookner from Look at me

Bust of the nymph naiad Herkyna in the Herkyna River in Greece

It was then that I saw the business of writing for what it truly was and is to me. It is your penance for not being lucky. It is an attempt to reach others and to make them love you. It is your instinctive protest, when you find you have no voice at the world’s tribunals, and that no one will speak for you. I would give my entire output of words, past, present and to come, in exchange for easier access to the world, for permission to state “I hurt” or “ I hate” or “ I want”. Or indeed, “Look at me”. And I do not go back on this. For once a thing is known it can never be unknown. It can only be forgotten. And writing is the enemy of forgetfulness, or thoughtlessness. For the writer there is no oblivion. Only endless memory.

-Anita Brookner 

domingo, 19 de noviembre de 2017

CR - Ellis Island, from Suburban Tales (forthcoming)

Masaaki Miyazawa 1981

Sometimes, I’m an immigrant at Ellis Island.

Some others, I’m a doctor administering
insulin shock therapy in Helsinki.

Sometimes, I hide my soul between my legs                                                                    
and I beg for lovers to come quickly.
I wait, I am patient, and I have no demands.

The first time I entered a psychiatric ward,
I went there voluntarily.

I faked madness.

A doctor treated me with an ice bucket and a smile,
and I believed that he could save me.

The second time I was admitted,
 I had forgotten my name.

I blamed language,
and didn’t have the words to express my anger.
I then lost all the things I did not have.

It hurts to see the skeleton of a dream in my window,
and the corpses on the pillows every morning.

Language is a homeland to which I returned
years later after the war.
I did not see one familiar face to cry out my pain with.

Sometimes I’m an immigrant at Ellis Island.

Some others, I jump off strangers’ windows
to hide my tears.

-CR VocalesV

Louise Bourgeois on Beauty


"Beauty? It seems to me that beauty is an example of what the philosopher’s call reification, to regard the abstraction as a thing. Beauty is a series of experiences. It is not a noun. People have experiences. If they feel an intense aesthetic pleasure, they take that experience and project it into the object. They experience the idea of beauty, but beauty in and of itself does not exist.”

-Louise Bourgeois

miércoles, 8 de noviembre de 2017

Awesome quote by Chris Kraus from I love Dick

Let a girl choose death – Janis Joplin, Simone Weil– and death becomes her definition, the outcome of her “problems.” To be female still means being trapped within the purely psychological. No matter how dispassionate or large a vision of the world a woman formulates, whenever it includes her own experience and emotion, the telescope’s turned back on her. Because emotion’s just so terrifying the world refuses to believe that it can be pursued as a discipline, as form.

viernes, 3 de noviembre de 2017

Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God

Helena Almeida

Then he said, leaning forward: ‘You’re strange animals, you women intellectuals. Tell me: what’s it like to be a woman?’

I took my rifle from behind my chair and shot him dead.

‘It’s like that,’ I said.

-Joanna Russ

lunes, 9 de octubre de 2017

A pear from the tree, CR - VocalesV

By the grace of birds

Walter bows his head when anyone passes next to him
I guess it comes from years of hideous training.
Like elephants in a circus learn to bow their heads
or lions in cages learn to sit still.
He carries himself with a contagious nostalgia,
with hoses, vacuum cleaners, and bottles of chlorine.
He cleans the pool with a slow rhythm, inspecting
one leaf at a time; maybe saving one or two chipmunks
that found their way to the water.
Walter wears a green jumpsuit,
and a white mustache that adorns his sad eyes.
Every time I see him, he fills me with an immense sadness.
Sometimes as I write next to the window, I avert his gaze
to avoid saying hello, to avoid feeling sad.

Walter comes with Elvis, who is younger than him,
once or twice a week during the summer.
He drives a 1980’s Toyota pick-up truck.
On the second week of September he comes back
to close the pool for winter.
It is in the fall when I say goodbye, I bow my head and smile,
I would like to tell him how much I respect him,
how his gait made me write this poem,
how I see all  the Walters of the world in his face,
how much I hate inequality, how much I hate uniforms,
how I wish he wasn’t just another link in this furious capitalist world,
but I say nothing.
I keep my thoughts to myself, I keep these definitions in my head,
I repeat to myself that he is a human, and not just a wage laborer, or a means of production.

Before Walter leaves for good, before next summer comes,
he enters the house, takes off his hat, puts it in between his hands,
and asks my boyfriend if he can pick a pear from the tree
(a pear, singular, oh please Walter take the whole tree,
take the whole land if you wish, I want you to be happy).

CR- VocalesV

domingo, 1 de octubre de 2017

Fragment "Black seed" CR VocalesV

He asked me if I had been with a black man before.
- I don’t understand your question.
Have you ever been with a black man before?
- You mean darker than me?


Jennifer Givhan, for the Adroit Journal’s Tips for Young Writers

But wherever you are and whether you’re sunbathing on the sidelines or treading water or marathon swimming in the deep and nearly drowning—if you’re a poet, declare yourself so. The accolades will mean naught when you’re writing your own survival. The work is the water and the lifeboat. The work is everything.

-Jennifer Givhan

Mujer saliendo del psicoanalista - Remedios Varo

Remedios y yo tenemos a Jung en común.

Drop it
Into the well.
One item lighter
and so on...

CR -

Robin Coste Lewis - "Plantation"

I wondered if you thought we were lost.
We weren’t lost.  We were loss.
And meanwhile, all I could think
about was the innumerable ways
I would’ve loved to have eaten you.  How
being devoured can make one cry.

- Robin Coste Lewis

jueves, 21 de septiembre de 2017

The New Ash on the Roof of Our Building, by Taylor Mali (From his book The Whetting Stone)

Taylor Mali

Haunted is an apartment where a woman lived.
Someone like your wife, or soon-to-have-been-ex-wife.
Do people even say such things?

Haunted is an apartment where a woman died.
Except instead of the apartment,
it’s the sidewalk outside six floors below,

the place where, later, candles and flowers
bloomed into a shrine of glitter and photographs,
pretty, colored stones, and a carved wooden box.

We think of the dead as faded floating versions
of who they were in life –same grief, same need,
ghostly, doleful, disconsolate transparency,

except wearing sheets like gods, wraiths, or Romans –
maybe even Roman gods –revenants.
Do people even say such things?

I commit this notion to the earth with all the dead
flowers, pictures of you, haunted stones, and guilt.
I bury the carved wooden box like ashes.

Once, I planted a flower in an open field
not far from my own grave, haunted,
except instead of a flower, it was a tree.

And instead of an open field,
it was the rooftop of our building.
And instead of my grave, it was yours.

- Taylor Mali

martes, 12 de septiembre de 2017

Like Us (Poem from her book New American Best Friend)

Hilda Doolittle 

And we grew up and hardly mentioned
who the first kiss really was –a girl like us,
still sticky with moisturizer we’d shared in the bathroom.
-Marie Howe, Practicing

I had perfected the story before telling it –
rehearsed it during imagined interviews
in the shower – it was 2004 and his name
was Noah, my best friend since grade
school, we wanted the first kiss to be a safe bet,
the kind we could feel good about telling
our kids but didn’t end in heartbreak or sex.
I liked this small pill of a story,
how it made my life bite-sized
and interesting but still, there
was always Margot
how her spit was tacky and
harsh from gummy new growth
how I was the boy because I liked
my sneakers and got my hair cut
at the barbershop, how we
confessed to each other the places
we had rubbed our crotches against:
arms of recliners, spoons, the seams
of denim and now, each other’s
thighs, sometimes in our swimsuits,
jumped in the river just so we’d have
an excuse to wear them, an excuse
to shower together, change together,
linger when the other one peeled
the one piece down their damp torso
and how we both felt bad about
the game so we did it on the pull-out
bed, that way, when we were finished
slamming our tiny, moth bodies
against the porch lights of each other,
we could tuck the cot away and
the bedroom would go back to
the way it was before –
Curly-sue, nail polish, pastel coiled
phone cord, strawberry milkshake
designed by her mother to ensure she would
grow up the kind of girl who cries
when the boy does not love her –
in an instant.

- Olivia Gatwood (United States)

Six Stories by Taylor Mali (from the Chapbook The Whetting Stone)

Rattle Magazine

Stained glass windows were measured in stories;
the taller the window, the more stories it could tell.
-Art Spiegelman

Years ago, on a Monday morning, my wife,
dressed for work in a new suit and elegant shoes,
stepped outside the window and fell to her death
six stories below.

But I wonder what the stories were.

Perhaps the first is the one about the tattoo on her father’s arm,
the dark number he never spoke of.

In the second her mother calls her a whore–
Madonna and child– before she has ever been kissed.

In the third she is told that her dog, who was killed by the vet
mercifully, ran away while she was at summer camp,
and she cries because she thinks he got lost trying to find her.

I fail her again and again in the fourth story
until death do us part.

In the fifth, she is trying to reach God, any god,
but is lost and will not ask for help.

And in the last story, she stands weeping in a green field
made of wine bottle glass. And what appear to be her tears –
the only unstained crystals in the window –are actually just cracks in the glass where the tears once were, the brilliant
sparkling effect being nothing more than sunlight.

-Taylor Mali (New York, United States -1965)

lunes, 4 de septiembre de 2017

Black Birds, CR - Vocalesv

Gianni Passeretti

Oh, then we got all nervous, baby, I don't have the heart like you.
-The Tallest Man on Earth

Sometimes black birds fly in the ceiling.

Windows opened, birds dancing inside
curtains blowing in the wind.

First we moaned, then we yelled,
and then silence covered our faces
like a cheap burial shroud.

I will never forget those slow dances in your kitchen.

And those early mornings when I used to think:
Here I’ll stay, here I’ll stay.


martes, 29 de agosto de 2017

Quote of Walter Benjamin Quoting Breton or one of the most wonderful things I have read this year

Image and language take precedence. Breton notes: “Quietly, I want to pass where no one yet has passed, quietly! – After you, dearest language.” Language takes precedence. Not only before meaning. Also before the self. 

-Walter Benjamin

Poem to my head in the fridge, CR - VocalesV

I have matured,

Enough to understand, enough to underestimate, enough to live with sadness

Without feeling displaced.

I have matured,

Little things now make me cry,

Like going to the MoMA and crying in front of a Rothko, just because it’s beautiful.

I have learned to appreciate beauty for what it is,

Nothing mundane, but transcendental

That cannot be found in humans.

I have learned to understand rejection

And what it means to my own limitations and capacities,

I have learned to smile every time someone says “no.”

Life is watching a three-hour film by Ceylan without falling sleep

And road trips with healthy snacks and sex in the car,

And lifting heavy things every time madness knocks at the door.

Life is visiting the independent bookshops in Brooklyn

And have funny conversations with the hipsters inside,

And walking the streets of New York City with heavy bags and with him by my side.

Life is watching him flirting with someone he likes

And imagining how their story would have turned out,

And feeling hopeless.

Life is a trip on a train listening to the Tallest Man on Earth

Thinking of how many people in the car have battled an opioid addiction

While we cross the American East Coast.

I have matured,

And I still don’t know what to make of so much growing,

I could have killed myself, but chose to grow my bush instead.

Now, I only let go when it feels like I’m stealing,

And I look at people straight in the eye and say “I don’t like you,”

And I have developed this hideous idea of putting my head in the fridge every time I have an existential crisis.

I have found my identity in the lack of labels,

I love men, I love women, I am from the South and the North, I’m a liberal

I am Westerner, and from the Third World, I’m a lawyer, and a poet, and an animal lover, and a hater of humans.

I have matured,

I have learned to love quieter and to build cities in his body

While we travel around little nowhere towns.

One leg on the glove compartment, bare feet, red lips,

I feel like Lolita without the incestuous step-father,

And summer is ending, and I close my eyes, and in winter I would have survived yet another year.

I have matured,

The birds sing and for a moment I could swear

They are calling my name.

CR - VocalesV

jueves, 13 de julio de 2017

Sara (I), CR VocalesV

The flies pass through your body like sharp knives
your stiff hands try to guess the future with their palms facing the sky
we have paid a high price for our inconsequence.
I tilt my head to the side and I look at you from this twisted perspective,
Hey love, wake up.

A year ago, Sara married us
secretly in the Granary Burying Ground
in front of Samuel Adams’ grave.
After we kissed and Sara applauded,
I took her place and married you both.
After you kissed and I applauded and smiled,
You married Sara and I.
After that, we walked back with the rain and ate
ice cream to celebrate.

We spent our fake honeymoon between Salem and Cape cod,
the three of us cuddling in a double bed,
naked, listening to Waits and Dylan.

The two of you with yellow smoke by the window;
you would lick her nipples and she would kiss you,

while I fed the cats.

Who knows who had the right answers those days,
the truth is, we loved making love under the puritan sky
of Massachusetts after watching the Handmaids Tale on your laptop.

We made fun of traditions licking Sara’s clit,
and she fought for her place
in this world with the two of us by her side.

She would cross the room with her pale skin and slender body
knowing she had our attention, and then she would sit in the corner where the cats slept
and open her legs for us to see the beginning and the end of our story,
she opened her legs and our humanity, but we were the placeholders of nothingness.

When Sara said she was moving to Portland we didn’t know what to say,
she was expecting us to move there, we were expecting her to stay.
Terrible triad of indecisions.
From then on, we perceived daylight through shadows,
but we should have fought for our room on the floor, instead.

Now, we google the weather in Portland to imagine what she’s wearing,
she does the same with us, but feels betrayed.

I lie next to your body and you open your eyes
death or dishonor, that’s what I read in them.

We should fly to Portland I tell you,
and an immense sadness fills the room.
To lose the past is a tragedy.
You'll see, we will taste her again
and we'll taste ashes.

CR - VocalesV

miércoles, 12 de julio de 2017

Literature Suspends Death, Hélène Cixous

The process of literature doesn’t make one happy, it suspends death — as long as it manifests itself. This is what Blanchot calls the “arrêt de mort”. It stops death with life. Similarly, when you’re dreaming, all pain is suspended. It’s waiting for you. Similarly, when you wake up from literature, the pain is waiting for you.     

- Hélène Cixous

martes, 11 de julio de 2017

Fragment of Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman (Via Clementine van Rodics)


The traumatic event challenges an ordinary person to become a theologian, a philosopher, and a jurist. The survivor is called upon to articulate the values and beliefs that she once held and that the trauma destroyed. She stands mute before the emptiness of evil, feeling the insufficiency of any known system of explanation. Survivors of atrocity of every age and every culture come to a point in their testimony where all questions are reduced to one, spoken more in bewilderment than in outrage: Why?

-Judith Herman

domingo, 9 de julio de 2017

Small Murders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Richard Avedon 1969

When Cleopatra received Antony
on her cedarwood ship,
she made sure he would smell her
in advance across the sea:
perfumed sails, nets sagging with rosehips
and crocus draped over her bed,
her feet and hands rubbed in almond oil,
cinnamon, and henna.

I knew I had you when you told me

you could not live without my scent,
brought pink bottles of it,
creamy lotions, a tiny vial of 
drop lasted all day.
They say Napoleon told Josephine
not to bathe for two weeks
so he could savor her raw scent,
but hardly any mention is ever
made of their love of violets.
Her signature fragrance: a special blend

of these crushed purple blooms for wrist,
cleavage, earlobe.
Some expected to discover a valuable
painting inside
the locket around Napoleon’s neck when he died,
but found
a powder of violet petals from his wife’s
grave instead. And just
yesterday, a new boy leaned in close to whisper
that he loved

the smell of my perfume, the one you
handpicked years ago.
I could tell he wanted to kiss me, his breath
heavy and slow
against my neck. My face blue from
the movie screen—
I said nothing, only sat up and stared straight ahead. But
by evening’s end, I let him have it: twenty-
seven kisses

on my neck, twenty-seven small murders of
you. And the count
is correct, I know—each sweet press one
less number to weigh
heavy in the next boy’s cupped hands.
Your mark on me washed
away with each kiss. The last one so cold,
so filled with mist
and tiny daggers, I already smelled
the blood on my hands

- Aimee Nezhukumatathil