January 12, 2022
Since this link was set up, I haven’t ever felt like writing a Diary. Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Venezuela were quieter than they’ve ever been – quiet as noiseless because the few people partying are not letting off rockets, and quiet as solitary because so many friends are absent and the ones here are avoiding gatherings of more than a few.
But there was still good food, still the presents of hallacas, and our version of Christmas cake.
Between the rickety gate and the house door
hardly a path, a grassy slope
with stones and tree roots,
and in that small space of time
the press that was squeezing me dry
lets go its city grip
and air rushes to my skull,
juices filter to my organs and senses.
From the clearing overgrown now
by withered grass stems
I look for the branch of a low tree
where once I saw a miraculous quetzal.
It’s not there, of course,
but in its place the crimson bells
of canelita flowering out of season
proclaim the color of its breast.
Yesterday my neighbor’s pig escaped into my field/garden/wood. We share the space. The friends with me tried to chase him back into his pen, but only succeeded in making him run faster, and the dogs joined in the fun – they seemed to be friends of his. I called a more competent neighbor (the pig’s owner was away) and he easily roped him and brought him back. He looked at me pleadingly with his very human eyes, and I felt sad that he had to go back to his narrow enclosure – and worse that his fat pink balls between his fat pink buttocks will soon be cut off to prepare him to be pork.
I got a virus on my phone and I’ve lost all my photos. I had three days of nervous tension and a sense of inferiority and helplessness, as well as indignation that this was being done to me. Unreasonable, I know, but at my age one does not relate intelligently to technological events. And I do blame Google for the worst of the problem, for advising me to download a cleaner and then bringing with it a lot of programs that flooded my phone and forced a change of software. How was I supposed to know I shouldn’t download an antivirus on Android??? Grrrr…
This is obviously not a diary, and not a blog. It’s a history and archive of my writing, and right now I’m not interested in any of it, except maybe the poems. The solstice and change of year have changed my energy and outlook, and I would like to start something new, but at 83 and in Venezuela, with all its social and practical problems (services worse all the time), not to mention Covid, I don’t see how… And my dogs tell me their life is just fine and I should keep still.
I’m still waiting for the “Page under construction” notice to be removed from this page, but in the mean time a few notes for poems, written this year.
Dama de noche
Last night I missed the epiphyllum blooming
I didn’t see the white wings of petals opening
or the poised dancers completed
or the stamens lying vibrant in their caves
nor smell the invitation to deliquesce.
I watched three flowers swelling up to the last day
I knew they were going to open
and in the evening I forgot.
I betrayed them
I betrayed myself
my senile memory let me down.
I try to console myself with today’s apparitions
the little fresh copper leaves of the mahogany
the wild turkey preening high in the cedar
but the hollow absence is still tearing at me
and suddenly I know, this is death
this is not being here while life goes on
and the queen of the night flowers without me.
No vultures in sight
‘Civil’ is a word we could forget,
survival is more likely without expectations.
Sky burial with the dog’s consent
dissipated the elements
and flames assured cleansing,
one life returned to essences.
Half-eaten and rotting bodies on the towers
indistinguishable ashes in collective pyres
violate the manners of departure
fog perspectives of release
undermine the body’s faith.
Mourning asks for quietness
for the beloved to be outlined
sculpted in the heart’s space
raised above decay
accessible to sorrowing breath and flowers.
Faced with agglomeration and
incestuous mingling of corpses
grief must sink into darkness
and arm itself with layers of rage.
The life of rocks, the life of grass,
the life of dogs with good homes
carries on unchanged.
People – some people – still dance at weekends
celebrate births and marriages
share errands with their friends.
But even to that daily level
the rot of corruption seeps down,
tempers become edgy,
nonbelief screens the sight
Children go to bed hungry
and the frontiers are bursting
with the deprived.
I remember the body of my friend
corroding slowly under the dominion
of a vicious disease.
She celebrated food and laughter while
her organs were besieged by a caul
of damaged cells
until the rot penetrated
too far and the fabric of her collapsed
through the boundary inside.
Paradura del Niño
“The ceremony of innocence is drowned”
Festival of the Child´s stirring
beyond his crib to bless the greening world.
Still the neighbors come, a new generation
in jeeps and city clothes
and they´ve learnt the verses
sing from their hearts,
their eyes light up with the mystery
and the sputtering candles.
For them the promise should come true
of a year´s fortune,
grace should spread in ripples
from the Child’s altar
sweeping away imposed poverty
the threats of plague and war
but the stiff mesh of power
constrains their lives and will subdue them.
The paradura is betrayed.
I elect you a god fitting
for our time, your light so faint
only extreme instruments can trace it
across the screen of spacetime
beyond which the source, you,
no longer exist.
But still, light. And so old
bearing perhaps fresh
those first ingredients of light
our brains have learnt to deter:
feracity, wonder, love.
Te elijo dios a la medida
de nuestro tiempo, tu luz tan tenue
la rastrean sólo instrumentos extremos
a través de la cortina del espaciotiempo
donde la fuente, tú, allá en el fondo
ya no existes.
Sin embargo, luz. Y tan vieja
puede ser que carga frescos
esos ingredientes primeros de la luz
que nuestros cerebros aprendieron rechazar:
feracidad, asombro, amor.
Finally the page under construction has gone (although there are many errors in layout that I don´t know how to fix) and I´m going to try to write here more regularly. In English or Spanish as the occasion or my state of mind dictates.
20 Septiembre 2022
El cielo del día que inicia
es azul fresco rayado
por plumas blancas.
En la tierra el contraste es vegetal,
cabezas blancas de molinillo
entre espigas de lucemota azul.
Draco: A Death
There was a circle round me in my home,
three dogs and Tea the cat,
my heart and safety.
Draco has gone and it’s broken,
The long limbs of trouble have pierced it
The first words in my head when I wake
Where’s Draco / Draco’s not here,
Daylight is a membrane, a floor,
at moments like a periscope or crab’s eyes,
my mind breaks through it to review
the emptiness above.
Draco is not here –
Draco is in a hole in the ground under a cedro,
his friend Orion sat on the grave and mourned him,
no little grey dog comes for his supper,
these are facts.
But I retract my sight.
Here in this submerged place
there is neither past, present nor aching future,
time is a perpetual echoing waterfall,
I can join him if I want in his new dwelling.
More shades are with us –
my sister the space reader
friends barely remembered but here now
in their smiling age.
Underground dawn is twilight,
angels are composed of earth
with beetles’ wings.
My little dog lies among them
He has no breath,
his heart has stopped, he won’t
Elegía para Draco
Un círculo protegía mi casa,
tres perros y la gata Tea,
mi corazón y seguridad.
Draco se fue y se ha roto,
las largas extremidades de la pena
lo han penetrado.
Las primeras palabras en mi cabeza al despertar:
dónde está Draco / Draco no está
La luz del día es una membrana, un piso,
a momentos como un periscopio u ojos de cangrejo
mi mente lo atraviesa para escudriñar
el vacío arriba –
Draco no está allí,
Draco está en un hueco en la tierra bajo un cedro,
su amigo Orión se sentó en la tumba y lo lloró,
no llega un perrito gris a la hora de la cena,
éstos son hechos.
Pero retiro la vista.
Aquí en este lugar sumergido
el tiempo es una cascada perpetua retumbante,
no existe pasado ni presente ni futuro dolido.
Si quiero lo alcanzo en su nueva morada.
Nos acompañan otras sombras –
mi hermana lectora del espacio,
amigos apenas recordados pero presentes ahora
en su edad sonriente.
El amanecer subterráneo es crepúsculo,
los ángeles se componen de tierra
con alas de escarabajo.
Mi perrito yace entre ellos
No tiene aliento,
su corazón se paró, no
va a levantarse.