Víctor Varela Mora | Poems

Francis Alÿs | Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing), 1997 Mexico City


Maserati 3.0

At 300 mph I question everything
Beyond peace, without even the possibility
Of silence I say question everything
And what carries me off
Is my own animal, the one scaling
The cathedral, self-quarry
I follow with feral sniffing, unbridled
Abandon clamping my mouth
Before wrenching it open
Like the frightful door that it is.
I bought a tiny camera
That fits inside my brain and now
I spend all day color-correcting
My dreams. Give me a fire escape
And a torch and I will ignite
Our fabricated Babylon from above
Watching the circle of assault
Widen. Tonight I will sleep
On the unsettled rooftop
Tar and fight the impulse to stone
Passersby. In the morning you can find me
Feeding thirsty hedges with urine
In scribbler’s park. I animal inside
Animal out. January shirks
Its turtleneck in a fit
Of ambivalence, as the nothingness
Collapses. It is only corpulence
And lacks misery. At this velocity
I alone take in the whole
Circumference, disaster’s horizon.
I meet the deities and laugh.
A man without a hat
Goes to work with his wife
Splayed and naked
To guard his skull. I run
Into my soul at the trolley stop.
I ask him if he’s seen Heloise.
He replies, “Sure, but who gives a shit?”
When I pause, taken aback, he answers
Like the Buddha, “Truth is prose.”
Later he gives me a tour of his cubicle.
He’s assembled a large gear
That will randomize the near future
But first he has to make some repairs
So we hit up the sweatshop
For buckles, and the other sweatshop
For hatbands. We need to sheathe
The gear in red taffeta and cinch its waist
With a slim, reflective ribbon.
He wants to adorn the gear
With the feathers of an exotic bird.
Fuck that. This could not be more serious.
Only my soul understands how necessary
Is amnesia. To start again. Reboot.
To leave one’s wife hanging
From an antique spike, to flee home
Floundering in self-hallucination, a whim
Beyond remedy. Look for me.
I’ll be the one sleeping in the elephant
Graveyard, the one pacing the deck
Of this proud freighter turned ghost town.
Look for me, duh, in the Rites of Spring.
But above all, see me in my Maserati
With its 3.0-liter V6. Virility, agony
And turbines. Sonnets-to-Orpheus-injected.
Epic transmission from the Grand Prix
Where I’m mangling posterity.
Carelessness is not the same
As killing time. I whistle and wear
My jacket backwards. Notice
I did not say straitjacket, I said insulin
And metrazol. But don’t notice
I didn’t say Occupational Therapy
Or become redundant like a cockeyed rooster.
I disappear into my rut, rabid
And useless to middle managers
Who busily thumb actuary
Tables for the pleasure
Of a good paper cut. I am necessary
Like a steering column is
Necessary. Rods, shafts, high
Octane battery acid. I call Cecilia
And tell her the whole watery world
Could not keep me
From her thighs, which are likewise
Necessary. Fine-threaded nuts
Bolts, and crankshafts, all of them
Platinum, alert, stasis-resistant.
When I say he was an academic I mean
He ate nettles, “professionally.”
Now that should give Che’s war
It’s woodland pattern, should give
Insurgents a choice between death
And amnesia. Swallow me
Down with a gulp of lager my love
I am a raw oyster. Blood piling
In the inventory of your eyes. Love
Without understanding. Love’s proximity
And eclipse. Love that must arrange
The newspaper past alienation. Love itself
Disembarks from Paradise Lost
To make certain, finally, that the fled sun
Won’t return on the first voluble gust.
In Origines, Cato called man
A steamroller, spherical, rolling.
The problem of the other is the problem
Of poetry. All Yankee bastards
Should be murdered the instant
They make shore. I cannot live
Without conflict. Just this morning
I woke devastated by my love for North Korea.
I want a mushroom cloud too.
I labor all night for gods in the dying
Fungus glow and all they say
Is work faster! Throw the house
Out the window! Jean Genet
The prison sage, calls the infinitive
“To make” limitless. We can sing
And dance and write and read
And none of it stops us from playing
The thief, the grifter, scoundrel who preaches
All manner of violation. In this we
Are each other’s children and become
bitches with guns, making decisions
From the eye of a hurricane.
El comandante arrives from the northern coast.
My drink of choice is part vodka, part gin
Darkened with the shade of a lemon.
I can shatter my teeth on this pamphlet.
My life is worth less than nothing. Voraciously
I desire one thing after another, my wide face
Estranging the landscape. I celebrate poetry
Like one who celebrates vows with a knife.
This I sing and prolong like a satellite
Binding the world. It is the absence of pronouns
Where I bury my vulture. It is difficult
To explain with any certainty how the future
Limps toward us. Say and foretell, they beg, deepen
The already deep, infinity must be stripped.
But the infinite is always bare. My heart glows
Against its skin, outshining each paltry sun
That sinks into the earth. So no, we’re not
Going to the movies, not to ogle
The servant of god, eggling
Hatched in Isnotu, in Trujillo.
You know the one I mean, “Prostrate
To the State,” imp that lives
Only to weaken, bigot mouthpiece
Of a glorified village. Hey guerillas!
Verb tense is not important.
It isn’t hard to see doom
Splayed out on the horizon’s ruler.
Big deal. Soak the hills with holy tears
For all I care. Inside my bubble
I will dance a soft shoe. Today I received
A letter from my love, who is coming, and yet
Here I am dictating weariness
With a candy straw, barfing agony
In piles. Our daughters, our legacy, even
The liberation army will not impede
Our proper Venezuelan death.
It already subtracts us, silly death, death
Beyond contract or pay grade, the unclaimed
Death going down in a powerful wood.
Old habit, bad habit, enormous condors
Eviscerating the poor, whose pride
They themselves cannot refuse. I’m talking
Irremediable transcendence, ever since
The Fall, as each enemy’s violent
Dissolution teaches us to leap
Forward, blind, forever
Babbling like a pituitary river, tyrant
Who would split the city, unknowable
Despot reclining in a Turkish chair.
You must hurl all of it out
Before the chaos is total.
But first you must find the door.
Our bedroom is filling with ink.
Even as we kick order, sub-order and species
Out of bed, the fossils remain.
We, too, must deepen and carve, must
Remember our 300-mile passage
Through the labyrinth, the ray of light’s
Square root blasting all fantasy.
We are unhinged, but not fools.
Our tongues illuminate what others
Have ignored, the country driven
Into madness. This is my office
And whoever might recline on the edge
Of a razor can ride shotgun. Powder keg
For powder keg, the experts
Cry more more more. Predictable.
But play no one’s lemming and we will soar
Past the establishment, past each fruitless
Liaison of fear. I live in a taxi stand
Where my neighbors clothe me
In cardboard. Today we are exhaust itself
Choking all tomorrows, inevitable
Day when “The Man” collapses, clutching
At his buckling guts, having breathed
Too much, his left eye rolling down the street
And into the valley undeterred. I say undeterred
Because patriarchy is quite capable
Of throwing itself off a cliff. Later we can
Retrieve it for vitrine display in the chamber
Of the siege, provoking instant death
From gut to tooth. If you want to make history make
Yourself history. Everything urgent is necessary
And vice-versa, especially at the bar.
Our news must be radiant and drown out
Even the New Year’s countdown.
Vietcong commandos take the offensive
Desiring more for their children
Than a leg of lamb, more than a sip
Of veal’s milk, more than 60 cloves of garlic
And a cup of rum or fifth of Moscato.
Salt and pepper on a dollop of lard.
If we begin at dawn, the inferno
Will be ready by nightfall. We encircle
The horrible chessboard of now
And gnaw joylessly at the new age
As it rolls toward us. Garlic haunch
A la Heraclitus of Ephesus, then
A ruby red trout bathed in reddest wine.
The entire meal will be illuminated
By the embers of our flag. We live
Amidst the endless recapitulation
Of combat, face after face purchasing
Its own version of fate. We stalk
The gauntlet, returning all blows.
We strip semantics and citizenship
like a wrestler rips his t-shirt. We are
Water and fish at once. Trash
The next paragraph before it destroys you.
Drape a gun mist about your neck
So nobody can sleep easy. O, this love
Of theirs for the people’s war!
It offends them to think
This is a poem. Maybe it isn’t.
Maybe it’s a lullaby. I know only
How complete is my insanity
And how near we are to the end
Of this endless refrain, this epic joke.
My word, still wet, freezes on the air.
There it remains. I climb into
My Maserati 3.0 and rev, my boot heel
Twitching over the gas pedal. A sudden
Cough of exhaust and my brains pound
Through the wall. Then the other hell.


—Amaneci de bala
Translated by Chris Martin


Originally published by THE POETRY PROJECT



You Heroes, Alive


When you hear music,
don’t silence it.
Turn the dial
to its ultimate consequence
that it may run freely
and slap the walls
of the house and your heart.

Sometimes it’s painful
for the unwary who surround us,
but it’s necessary, terribly necessary,
to execute these hungry outs.



Remember you muted the brushes:
let’s see, we’ll see.
You have found no way to penetrate
the terrible and heroic colors.
Let’s see, again, there is still time
to go out into the field and laugh, laugh a lot,
sign the militancy card of twilight.

We say these things reminiscing about Vincent Van Gogh,
the dead in screams, the maimed inside.
Like any other day
we would be with Matthew
discussing these things and more.



The anvil-sculpting voice of the present
has not yet arrived.
Later gentlemen, hurry
to reach the throne of Rimbaud.



We leave this space blank
but for the child of France and Mayakovsky
like two red flags fix
banners of the people in the trenches.

At this long table all the poets of the world
declare like airplanes:


The poem is an island: CUBA.


Canción del soldado justo (1961)

Translated by Anne Boyer and Guillermo Parra



Poet’s Task

to Ismael Medina

Ethical is the poet’s path on this earth
though not he who puts an index finger to his lips
but rather in the tremendous and dazzling
glow of freedom and revolt
because you can’t be happy
when you breathe
amidst a bunch of wretches
you have to live aggressively
vindicate the whetstone
when the time comes
for the fierce and beautiful feast of knives

— 70 poemas stalinistas (1979)

Translated by Guillermo Parra

Originally published by TRIPWIRE 9



Víctor Valera Mora (1935-1984) was trained as a sociologist at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, where he co-founded the poetry group The Lautréamont Gang. Valera Mora participated in the literary and political encounters known as La República del Este during the 1970s in Caracas. During the mid 1970s he also lived in Rome, Italy. His last book was entitled 70 poemas stalinistas (1979). Fundarte in Caracas published his collected poetry as Obras completas in 1994. (Tripwire 9)

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