XII (from NEXT WINTER)
for Luis Camilo
I get up
I do not get up
I hit a motorcyclist with malice aforethought
I surrender to the Oedipus complex
I carefully study the differences between dysrhythmia – psychosis –
schizophrenia – neurosis – depression – syndrome – panic
and I’m horny
left alone in the house when everyone is asleep
I buy a magazine that costs six U.S. dollars
they steal my best friend’s wallet
they grab me
I push him
I murder him
I remember the umbrella of Amsterdam
and the rain
And the angry gesture
I dedicate myself to drinking to prevent heart attacks
I chew the food fifty times
and I’m bored
and I’m bored
I give in
I’m not giving in
I sit still and cry
someone takes me in his arms
and tells me “be calm I’m still here“
I stop crying
I hear the wind that blows near the sea, only near
I accept that flying cockroaches exist
I find that all my friends treated by psychoanalysts
[have become totally sad totally silly
I read I Ching and predict I’ll have a long life
Life of shit, I say
I join the bandwagon
I throw myself under the bandwagon
I understand for a single trip how much gas is in the tank
they tell me to turn off the light
I turn it off
they ask me, “Is this all right?“
I get crazy
I plead for peace
they fuck with me
I fall asleep up against the bar
I hear the voice of Spanish whenever I shit on god
a guy cries beside me again
they hit me
they hit me hard
there’s a full moon
I race down the mountain road
plunder the account
Don’t leave me
My chest hurts,
the day is done,
the red win
rien ne va plus
Don’t be ridiculous.
No one dies from holding their breath.
Think of your brittle bones,
of your sweaty folds,
of your dry vagina
and your receding hairline.
Or of your heart attack when you fake orgasm.
Women die of that.
Why you gotta be so obscene?
Because for twenty years I’ve not gone to Aranjuez
and that makes me pissed.
His shirts carefully folded
and the nightstand drawer empty.
Given my sorrow’s size,
I read Marguerite Duras,
hostile and saccharine Marguerite Duras,
who is knitting a shawl for her love.
On the fifth day
I opened the curtains.
The light fell on the greasy bedspreads,
the apartment full of trash,
the door frame peeling.
So much pain
from such ugly things.
I looked once more at his rat face
and threw all the trash in the garbage can.
alarmed by how much I’d thrown away,
asked if I was doing all right.
Hurts, I told him.
In my mailbox, an anonymous note:
“One who has love
and does not clog the drain of the community.“
With or without a dick,
there are things that cannot be done
when you start to sweat
or when the prostate hurts.
So Beatriz killed herself
at the age of fifty three.
She did not participate in the grotesque ceremony
of decadent eulogies.
She covered all the mirrors
and put satin sheets on the bed.
She was supposed to die there
neat and fragrant
ignoring the rat who bit her breath away
But she preferred the sofa
where she had fucked the night before
with a professional party boy
rented for the occasion.
She left a list
of mistakes and successes.
Writing is not important, she wrote,
and signed her name in small print,
believing it apocryphal.
ONE DAY OF THE WEEK I
When were you born,
César Vallejo died.
When your little head,
your virgin cunt,
entered the world
from between the beautiful legs of your mother,
they placed the poet into a hole
they covered it with dirt
you covered the memory.
You could not choose.
Because if you choose
and if you life
But enjoyment is the horrific part of the dream:
sleep will be forever.
There will be a smell of fried peppers,
thundering voices in the bar.
It will be a day of the week,
when furniture change places during the night
and in the mornings,
only the women will speak.
Your nose will be sealed and the right eyebrow
will fall more than the left.
The leveled hips,
bad hair cut and body lost
in any shift that hides the fat in your waist.
If you had sad lunatics for grandparents,
it will be reflected in report
of a responsible official.
They crossed the arms over your chest
and this is fatal,
because you can not
to breathe better.
It was fake that your hugs were convulsive
and your furies unpredictable.
Fake, the glass you burped into as if you were coating it in bread-
Fake, your nipples, your red freckles.
Last night you decided:
if I cannot sleep,
I’ll choose death.
But you could not have expected the leg of lamb to melt in your
on your tongue.
You could only say:
You took a long sip of wine.
Vallejo also sought a leg of lamb
in the menu of La Coupole.
All watched his stupid eyes,
while he could only think in the deaf ears of Beethoven,
He had asked his companion:
Why do not you love me?
What did I do?
Where did I fail?
The sausage in the casserole left grease stains on his shirt.
he felt compassion fatigued his body
and I try to guess who will be born on this night,
while trying to fall asleep.
requires time and patience.
The first suicide is unique.
They always ask you if it was an accident
or a sincere proposition of death.
They shove a tube up your nose,
and you learn that next time,
you must do it quietly, not disturb the neighbors.
When you begin to explain that
death actually seemed like the only way out
or that you did it
to fuck your husband and your family
they have all turned their backs
and are watching the tube,
its parade retrieving your last supper.
Betting on whether it will be noodles or fried rice.
The doctor on duty coldly shows them
it’s grated carrot.
“Disgusting,“ says the sick bimbo.
They disposed of me furiously
because no one won the bet.
The saline dispersed quickly
and ten minutes later,
I was back at my house.
No space to mourn
nor time to feel cold and tremble.
People are unconcerned with death that comes from loving too
as if children kill themselves all the time.
Look in Hammett for this exact page:
never tell a word about your life
in any book,
if you can help it.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
They ask you
To whom will you leave your things when you die?
Then I looked at my house
and its objects.
There used to be nothing to give up,
but my rancid smell
And that rat.
The rat that remained hostile and silent
waiting for it to occur
Useless, give him some food
and soften his bed with blue soap.
She waited for him every night,
anxious to see if his long mustache
would stop hiding the sharp and predatory teeth.
He was there,
and silent as a sphinx
hoping that my blood would run
death arrived inside
first, calm and definitive
I wrote your name on the wall
like a final sunburn,
at about ten am
draw a shadow in my will:
“The rat did not allow her to see the spring“
I made the list.
Dinner at the best restaurant
for Angeles and Carlos.
My books, my unpublished works for Jose Ignacio.
My dreams for Ibsen.
My credit card for Ybis.
My car for Alberto.
My double bed for Mario.
My memory for Salvador.
My loneliness for Ismael Rivera of the Black.
My teenage pain and pain from my mother for Peter.
My ashes for Ernesto.
My laughter for Marina.
told Angeles and Carlos
if I cannot sleep,
I will choose death.
The leg of lamb was so tasty
that they ignored me.
I remember that on one corner of Chacao,
put her arms around me and said,
next friday we will invite you.
His hair cut short
and his happiness to have it that way
made me realize that I was not the silenced mother of Carlos.
I rested my cheek on his shoulder.
It was only seconds,
but I felt that as the scissors cut through her mane,
something had changed.
Something that doesn’t go by his name
now haunting the sleepless and drunken nights
in the neighborhood of the family.
To die deliberately,
requires time and patience.
You evoke the free death of a son,
a thing that could never happen to you.
The ferocious finger of an enemy pointing to you
as ruthless one.
Pass, but it’s not mortal.
and no orgasm.
One good reason.
The silence of your partner when you ask them,
Why don’t you want me?
What did I fail?
and then the tour of those silent spaces
with you bent over,
Validating that there is not soap to clean
nor favor to press out
and at best
these oranges are rotten
Then you remember
being on a terrace at 7 am,
overlooking the sea,
and someone saying to you,
this gives me a fear of heights
but I love you.
returning to the city
and to the mazucamba of a naked gay man.
You think again about what is deliberate.
It is not fate.
It is not vengeance.
It is your hand
touching her thigh.
Going back a little more
and recalling the uneasiness of your partner,
the shadowy stench
of your partner.
There is always a before
I wanted to eat tortellini in cream.
Or take a drink of Tanqueray.
Or be embraced with strange hands.
Or, as he says, Caupolican,
that they put me in the presence of Maiquetia,
the city more beautiful than this whole country.
that I know
has deliberated on his disappearance.
open your mouth.
Show me what your mother did when you were a girl.
Was that the secret?
Consider your uterus,
broad and outdated.
How many children passed through there?
The doctors told you
that nature awaited them.
But they just died.
And if they lived
some would have been morons
others more or less the same,
all premeditated out of loneliness.
You have problems with your teeth,
with slow digestion of the indecisive,
with the crunch of the occipital bone.
You’re just another patient.
Everyone would like to have been born in Kansas City
or in Amsterdam
or in Toronto.
Or at least
twenty years later.
Let me shake this ivory specimen.
verify the mixture’s color.
that bad smell.
When I asked him why he had not called
he explained to me that he had been buried alive
and that he did not have a phone.
In this thin chicken lips,
or was not,
Everything was strictly legal.
Is it because you do not believe in God?
If it wasn’t easy,
you wouldn’t try to do it.
I went to the balcony
and looked at the park,
irritating brotherhood of screaming children
and calibrated birds.
Heard the remote control changing channels,
I felt at my back
his desire to put on his pants
I went to the kitchen to peel potatoes.
THE WALLS OF SPRING
Do not teach my child to work the land
not to smell the tang of the earth
not to sing hymns.
Know that there are no crystal streams
no clean drinking water
Your world will be hellish downpours
and dark plains.
Of cries and groans.
Of dry eyes and throats.
Of tortured bodies that no longer will be able to see or hear.
Know that it is not good to hear the voices of those who exalt
[the color of the sky.
I’ll take him to Hiroshima. To Seveso. To Dachau.
Your skin will fall piece by piece in front of the horror
and you will listen with sorrow to the bird’s song,
the laughter of the soldiers
the death squads
the walls in spring.
You will have the memory that we never had
and will believe in the violence
of those who believe in nothing.
Miyó Vestrini | Grenade in Mouth
Kenning Editions 2019
Translated by Anne Boyer and Cassandra Gillig
“Critics have called Miyó Vestrini the poet of “militant death.” Vestrini is known, too, as the Sylvia Plath of Venezuela, but if she is a Plath, we think she is one who would have set Ted Hughes on fire. And if Vestrini is a confessional poet, what she is confessing is not a set of personal problems: it is a fatal disappointment with the world at large. Her work is less a self-exposure than a set of incantations. These poems are spells for a death that might live eternally, for what Vestrini offers readers is a fundamental paradox: how to create, through writing, an enduring extinction. Her poems are not soft or brooding laments. They are bricks hurled at empires, ex-lovers, and any saccharine-laced lie that parades itself as the only available truth.
Miyó Vestrini was born in France, 1938, emigrated to Venezuela at the age of 9, and at eighteen she joined Apocalipsis (Apocalypse), the only woman to do so in the then male-dominated scene of the Venezuelan avant-garde. She soon became a dedicated and prize-winning journalist, directing the arts section of the newspaperEl Nacional. She published three books of poetry in her lifetime: 1971’s Las historias de Giovanna (The History of Giovanna), 1975’s El invierno próximo (The Next Winter), and Pocas virtudes (Little Virtues), published in 1986. Vestrini died by suicide on November 29, 1991, leaving behind two collections: a book of poems, Valiente Ciudadano (Brave Citizen) and a book of stories, Órdenes al corazón (Orders to the Heart).” [Kenning Editions]
Many Walls (after Miyó Vestrini)
Don’t take your children to the countryside. Don’t teach them hymns, or tell them stuff about clean water. Make them stand in the rain. Talk about torture, talk in cries and groans. Walk with them for days across the starkest of plains. Then they will know how pointless it is to listen to those who would praise the colour of the sky. They will want to go to Hiroshima, to Seveso, to Fallujah and to Grenfell Tower. There they will stare at you and you will fall to the ground, horrified as anyone who has ever really listened to a bird’s song. They will build many walls. They will make small additions to your memories, will tell small stories about the knowledge of those who know they have nothing.
The country, we’d say
we put it on tables,
we carried it everywhere,
the country needs
the country waits,
the country tortures,
the country will be,
they execute the country,
and we’d be there in the afternoons
waiting for some mourner
to tell him
don’t be an idiot
think about the country.
in the door to the street.
Not in vain
have I been so cruel,
not in vain
do I wish
for death to be simple and clean
like a shot of warm anise
or a slap whose echo is lost in the mountain.
El invierno próximo (1975)
This citation by Vestrini invites me to a reflection. Maybe hers was a generation of frustrated people, as she herself says, because having had so much youth and such a wealth of literary groups, important names and revolutionary proposals of radical ideologies, in sum, a frenetic and abundant time period, the future with its drowsiness and its eternal crisis, its slow and opulent decomposition of the country and its institutions, would have represented for them the absolute confirmation of the failure of the optimists, the beginning of the era of the hopeless and cynical. Were that to be so, Miyó foresaw it, and she chose to commit suicide before languishing and becoming a fossil.
We, who today remember that “lost generation” as the inhabitants of a type of golden era or, at least, a prodigious and abundant time, are on the other hand a disconsolate generation, born of its own broken dreams and guided in life by the maxim that the latter is elsewhere. By nature desirous, we have been given the fate of witnessing how the country intends to return to its own empty shell, and how, within a panorama of grandiloquence and of the highest numbers of weekly murder rates, amid poverty and marginality and historic petroleum prices, it has been our place to know ourselves as foreigners, since every form of nationalism hides and involves –compensates– a galloping defamiliarization. Our Venezuela doesn’t belong, doesn’t apply, to anyone. We have a borrowed, portable, mobile country. We are the generation of the precipice, who look toward the future down below and with dread, while we dream with the wings of our ancestors that were broken.
“I don’t think our generation will ever mean anything, for anyone,” Miyó said, and today we’re surprised how wrong she was.