Tuesday, October 12, 2010
cities underground no one sees
singing to machine guns
silent drills in criminal air
the shrillness of childlessness
as when the child learning to read
comes face to face with a meat-eating planet....
If you are the gods let me tell you a story
for your time is infinite
and my mouth will not be a part of it
but a whole through which echos without end
the memory that is your present and future.
There is a soccer game in the fog,
men and women naked in the damp.
There is monumental applause
for every goal, in which they are punched
and kicked through the goalposts of the underground.
The clapping is like gunfire,
like the clatter of an African rattle....
They say there is an outdoor cafe
in the middle of the universe
where many questions are answered only in skeletons
by the sages of East and West.
Inca and Pharaoh dine there,
eating humanity and throwing the bones
under the table to the Dogstar,
whose sharp teeth of light gnaw
them into ivory and ebony.
What do you call this reality that devours itself,
and what is left after the meal is done?
This is a question for divine physiology.
Does the spiral eat and shit?
Is the universe an endless body,
and when you are at the end of its fingertips,
what do they point to—what do they wave at,
what do they reach out to touch?
If life has a purpose how do you live?
If live has no purpose how do you live?
If living has purpose and you don't know it,
where do you look?
Under which rock is the answer,
under which stone has the absentee landlord left the key?
In the old wives' tales there are only signs
in octagonal red signaling blood is the answer,
and after that more blood.
[Enter the Feathered Man, silent]
The coldest horror is the little things,
in matter of fact bureaucrats that eat
away substance and gods page by page,
who may have begun life in the womb
as a mother's concertina,
who gamble at cards in off hours,
who shuffle papers,
who spare children no smile
who requisition just the right number of rounds
to gun down a mountain town,
even its dogs
who have a precise quota
of infants smashed against rocks
or thrown down wells
That's why the Spanish fight bulls
while we watch patiently.
The Conqueror broke only the fiercest
cattle of the forest hand to hand
and like the Roman at Lupercal pays continued
respect in sword against horn
which with one quick flick can disarm him of his testicles
and penetrate to the intestines.
That is why the tribes first loved the Spanish,
who were beautiful in their ferocity,
with nostrils flaring overoxygenated blood.
That is why we bake them brown
in the ovens of our women.
Let us be frank, my friends,
for if we were blood enemies
we are all intimates now:
we are carving the stone blocks of two cultures,
a multiverse of many tongues,
with blind courage to be stupid as a fighting
as patient as an unsurrendered chief
chewing coca leaves on the mountainside,
like a squat tiger who is the jaguar.
Pizarro, standing below a hundred thousand
charging down, pissing in his pants,
but standing his ground and playing us
a peasant's veronica greedy for gold.
We ceded his viciousness the power of the air
and he died of it purified, forgetting gold,
to be reborn among us in stone.
The civil servants and gray generals
and talkative merchants
we will feed to the fish,
for we honor
only the fiercest and purest
and have one poet.
The best have now been summoned
as fermented flesh, disappearing into
wastelands and trash dumps as food
for condors and giant rats,
who carry them to the three-eyed tiger
to be reborn.
[Fragment from "The Death Of Neruda" Copyright EAC 2010]