Translations
November 20, 1997
Providence

Each person writes a little something. That little something is then translated by another person. And then again, perhaps. And again. "Translation" is loosely interpreted; the translator may apply whatever rules or whims s/he sees fit.

1a. Outside, the man in the plum-colored hat is creeping around the stairs again, usually hidden, sometimes around the corner. The mothers are carrying signs, some encouraging, others gory. They smile at the enemy and the enemy begins to sing and smiles a lot, but not about the same thing. The man squats or stands. He throws a handful of dried peas on the ground. At the bottom of the stairs we sweep them up and separate out the hairs. We give the hairs to the enemy.

1b. Afuera, fue un fuego. El hombre hambre en el sombre de un sombrero marrón se murió. Él está en estas escaleras calientes, recondido con las madres redondas -- las llama dama. Ellas llevan y levantan, me parece, paraguas. Algunas aguas son simpáticas, patria, y otros son de mucha sangre. íCha cha! -- ellos bellos sonrisan con risa, y el enemigo mío canta tanto y sonrisa con risa, pero el perro no hace la misma cosa en la miasma. El hombre hambre se sienta en el asiento o se levanta con su tía avant-garde. Él retira y tira una mano de guano y legumbres para el gumbo en la tierra. Es terrible. En el pie de la escalera hay discos -- L.P.s -- y nosotros (Nostradamus y yo) los limpiamos y ponemos los pelitos en la casa de Nemo y Amos, en caso que Nemo y Amos son el enemigo mío. Pero no, somos amigos.

1c. Later, there was a fire. The hungry man in the shade of a purple hat died. He was on this cool staircase, chatting with the well-dressed mommas -- the ones you call dames. The women came and climbed, it seemed, with umbrellas. Some of the water was nice, country, others were very bloody. Cha cha! -- those beauties smile with laughter, and the enemy sang to me so much and smiled with laughter, but the dog doesnt have the same thing in its miasma. The hungry man sat in the chair or got up with his avant-garde aunt. He pulled and repulled a handful of shit and vegetables for the earthy stew. Its terrible. At the foot of the stairs are discos and us (Nostradamus and I). We clean them and take the pellets into Nemo and Amos house -- in case Nemo and Amos are my enemy. But no, were friends.

 

2a. Worn. A tired, creased face, contemplating whitening jeans. A word uttered in darkness like a red flare. A pile of clothes, shed into the melted shape of their wearer. Some sense of danger accompanying flags. The flags, creased from long folding, repetitive folding. And then David Bowie in an ensemble assembled from the Union Jack. Singing. What is it he projects across the lights, across oceans too? Red skies, but at what hour? What is the cock crow, the dogs growl, the low clearing of the throat, the note which we may or may not fail to read? The listeners eyes become rubbed, rubbed to a nub but not out. There is a sense that all of the ringing voices become buoys: intended as markers to ward us away but instead are the sounds to which we cling.

2b.1. Face it Jean. You white. Contemplate your worn tired creases. Word, utterly dark, flarin red! Wear them shapely clothes in that melted pile of a shed. Have some sense, accompany those flags with danger. Fold yo flags, crease em, Fold em I repeat! David and Jack are ensemble, bowing in assembled union (if you know what Im saying). Sing it! You projecting yo lightness on me crossing the ocean twice? Our sky is red, what? Your cock, my throat, you dog, crowing and growling, take note, you failing to read me clearly? Rub it, rub it, listen to me, Ill out them and you and all your nubby eyes! I sense the buoys are singing in a voice: Ward and Mark sound like they clinging to studly intentions.

2b.2. Fred and Allison go for a sleepy walk by the water. Its chilly and their jeans are faded. No good against the wind. The flag that the buoys rely on is flapping loudly. Gives Fred goosebumps. Gives Allison goosebumps. They hold hands and sing quietly. Different songs but thats just fine.

 

3.

Five are the angels, singing to the car.
It was just crying for a fresh smear.

Ready for a plunge I am in process with

the problem of signs, looking out the

window and along the interstate.

On the phone I am obscene; I am

not the name of your bad magazine.

A silver Nova wells up like a drop of mercury at the top of the hill, races down the ribbon of tarmac, a tear rolling down a nose, weeping for an unfulfilled bagel. She cant see the road signs, the glare off the road is so white its the color of nothing and shes been dirving into the sun til she cant see no more. Shes squinting into Gods own high beams. The mercuric bead of auto is poised at the crest of the hill, poised for the descent. The process of driving on the interstate, to her, is similar to somnabulism. The road rolls out from under the car and the car chases it. A kitten with a spool of thread. She cant believe shes really at the wheel... was it just this morning that she told her editor at Screw magazine to go fuck himself?

I tried to explain (five were the angels)
The problem of fire being confused with disease.
Its only when I am translated that I feel myself.

Mexico draws the car, pulls it. You understand magnetism? Well, forget it. Magnetisms not the word. Magnetisms not to be confused with other elemental attractions, like the tug a dowser feels on the divining rod. She understands why she has to go to Mexico but she cant explain the confusion, the blazing sun, Montezumas revenge, the habañeros. She feels momentarily that she cannot go forward. She feels, momentarily, like the translation of her car. The NO VA... the car that wont go.

So --- write a bad poem, hurl invectives,
Get the simple dishwater in there somewhere.
There are two bottles by the window,
One is missing a wick, would it help
If I flattened canvas with stone?
If I put some flesh in a vitrine?Ý

 

4a. Where have you been?

Ive been in the library all day, researching for my thesis project.

Are you still studying that British Political Literature Collective... PoLitCo?

Yes, but Ive narrowed my focus considerably. You see, PoLitCo claimed so many brilliant writers as memebrs, it would be dificult for me to do an encyclopedic overview of their works wihough sacrificing a closer reading...

So whats your new angle?

Raymond Q. Knowall. You know, the one who wrote that famous book of stylistic variations, and was also responsible for literally hundreds of millions of poems.

And?

Well, my thesis project will be an homage to Knowalls Stylistic Variations... one can only hope he would approve.

4b. Where do you come from?

Ive lived in France all my life, gathering the knowledge with which I am constructing the on-going project of myself.

Are you still becoming a cultural icon?

Yes, but Im beginning to seriously change my identity. You see, France produced so many cultural icons that it would be difficult for me to succeed in following so directly in their footsteps without sacrificing the calling to be truly innovative.

So, whats your new angle?

Japan. You know, the one who invented that famous style of ingest and reinvent, and was also responsible for literally hundreds of millions of poems.

So?

Well, my lifes direction will be an homage to that tradition of renovation... one can only hope that they reinvent me as well.

4c. I come from a land where calves no longer drink the milk. It is to the north, green and pleasant, but the cattle are very sick. I have spent my years becoming wise. I will recreate myself as a sage, for I have already been an icon in my homeland for eons. My identity is now fluid like the rivers which flow plentifully through the land. There are also many icons in my homeland, so my path has been a difficult one. My new vision is of a tree. I must become a new person. I will be reborn in a land even futher from here than my homeland; it lies to the east. Are you aware that the old sage who created himself before me also recorded as many poems as there are stars in the heavens? It is significant, I tell you. The goal that I have achieved in this life will serve as tribute to the long line of wise ones before me. I can only pray that those sages will make me wise like them.

 

j ebin - j guitart - l kleinberg - m obert