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Monday, December 19, 2016


Unload the yerba into
the mate. Insufflate and inject.
Bajo Contenido de polvo or Phencyclidine.
Thyroxine - tetrahydrocannabinol - triiodothyronine.
My tongue rests fatigued on my lower dentition.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Surfaces & materials defeat an imagination;  maple wood doors, linen sheets, glass windows, porcelain bowls, skin, and linoleum floors. A touch infallibly feels the oak grained trunk. All the materials in the house, even the hairs of children and the fur of the dog, lead the mind into obsolescence. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016


numb. burrs.
carpet anxiety.  Where have you been?

My shoes stay on for periods much longer than I can count.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review: Virginia Woolf ataca de nuevo

Virginia Woolf ataca de nuevo Virginia Woolf ataca de nuevo by Copi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Los cuentos de Raúl Domonte Botana (Copi) son divertidos tanto como los dibujos que están incluidos en esta edición y es difícil borrar el dibujante de la lectura de él. El mundo en estos cuentos es el mundo de un dibujante, escritor de teatro, y humorista gráfico. Más conocido como humorista gráfico, Copi, se destaca hoy en la literatura gracias a César Aira, quién tomó como proyecto difundir las obras de Copi en la Argentina a los fines de la década 1980. Estos cuentos en "Virginia Woolf ataca de nuevo" están calados en matices de sexualidad, identidad, amor; temas que Copi manifestó, supuestamente, en todos sus creaciones hasta su muerte de la sida. A pesar de ser divertidos, por otro lado, los cuentos revelan lo oscuro y dificultad de vivir tolerante y fiel al individuo adentro; sea en la creación, relación con otros, o apuntando a los deseos de uno en la vida.

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Review: Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida

Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida by Rainer Schulte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a rich and powerful reference for those interested in language, translation and their evolution. Unfortunately, I lost this book on my travels and did not get to read all of the entries. I made it to Octavio Paz's essay which resonated with me deeply.

"When we learn to speak, we are learning to translate; the child who ask's his mother the meaning of a word is really asking her to translate the unfamiliar term into the simple words he already knows. In this sense, translation within the same language is not essentially different from translation between two tongues, and the histories of all peoples parallel the child's experience."

Octavio Paz (tr. Irene del Corral)

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review: Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult

Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult by Bohumil Hrabal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short and concise stories that personify factories from a Prague of the past. These same factories were the historic backbone and the bloodline to the industrial revolution that would forever knead the world into its most recent mold. Thankfully, Bohumil Hrabal generously envisages a Czechoslovakia quite unknown, or too difficult to know by the mildly curious Anglophone. This short story, much like the other translations of his work into the English, will coerce and foment a curiosity difficult to satiate. The western (English speaking reader) will find an upshot of communism foreign to the paradigmatic concept that unintentionally- in these short stories- brings philosophers, writers, doctors, criminals, women, and other common folk into a daily interaction. They work side by side in a grueling environment that requires excessive clothing and excessive exposure, creating a vulnerability to the systematic oppression and humanistic oppression already established by a more universal society.

However, the seemingly chaotic threads in these seven short stories must be taken into account. They leave the reader with a ware much like the ingots themselves– better conceived as shrines, meccas, or nebulas at the helm of an existence and essence of the eclectic group of individuals found throughout Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult. The dichotomy of destruction and creation is beautifully narrated by a Hrabal, who himself was submitted to the democratically elected communist regime that delivered him into the crucible that would ironically forge his style and tone that would consequently establish him as a Czech writer; decisively severed from his influences. It cannot be denied, however, that Bohumil was continuously tempted to stray towards the surrealistic and western influence instilled in him early on. That is especially telling in his moments of poetic narration. God bless the hammer, the sickle and the Phrygian cap. God bless Bohumil Hrabal!

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Review: Dark

Dark Dark by Edgardo Cozarinsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cozarinsky nos presente un complot que marca la inseguridad de lo que pasa realmente entre Victor y Andrés y sus hábitos de errar por la ciudad de Buenos Aires. Estos dos personajes, junto con el escritor-narrador, yerran como los recuerdos y pensamientos de todos involucrado- incluso el lector mismo. Tanto como la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Dark, deja huellas, mitos, y olores que impregnan palabras y nombres de lugares- como la Isla Maciel. Esta impregnación llega hasta ciertas décadas que chocan con una carga que inspira una plétora de espacios instigadores en la mente, conjeturando el ser Andrés, sus intenciones con el pibe joven, Victor, y además la afinidad que pueda tener Edgardo Cozarinsky a los acontecimientos y los lugares recorridos en la novela. ¿Por qué se toma el rol de sensei callejero, Andrés? Capaz se vea a si mismo en ese joven. Tal vez esté realizando un deseo perdido de ocupar un rol natural y paternal. ¿Puede que esté enamorado con ese joven? Durante el transcurso de bastante nuevo libro de Cozarinsky, la inversión humana se encuentra en juego y en cuestión. Puede ser visto y vivido un muchas maneras. Como dice el narrador " Muchos son los caminos de la ficción."

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: Transatlantico

Transatlantico Transatlantico by Witold Gombrowicz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had to labor through this book. Since last year I've been chomping at the bit to read Witold Gombrowicz ever since the publishing house, el cuenco de la plata, began releasing a series of his writings translated into Spanish. It seems Sergio Pitol has been commended for his translation of a difficult, and often deemed impossible, translation of this surreal biography of Witold's first days in Buenos Aires. Despite this praise, the Castilian Spanish was the first contribution to a vicissitude of excitement previous to opening up this book. The difficult language and syntax was the second contributor to a stymied initial intrigue for a glance into a renowned Polish writer who spent 10 years (maybe more?) of his life living in Argentina.

However, I was pleased to encounter a most unique approach to the idea of identity, loyalty- both to nation and to individuals connected to oneself by the sole fact of nationality-, and the apparent transformation a person experiences when choosing to live in another Nation-state different from the one they hold inherent allegiance to.

One factor to the uniqueness in this book is that the flow and tone liken to a stream of consciousness type of narrative which guides the reader at an accelerated pace. This quickness captures a desperation as the individual seems helpless to control much of anything, while the futility of settling down in his new environment unfolds into a game of tug-o-war and ambiguous submission. What is most peculiar of Trans-Atlantic is that Gambrowicz confronts the forces and circumstances that are both within him and beyond him which are innately Polish, and only exposed by his decision to stay in a foreign land.

This peculiar approach to a migrant's account of their first experiences in Buenos Aires was the last and most penetrating vicissitude that turned this read into a rigorous one, however not hindering, another example of Witold's ingenuity.

My expectation was high and in search for a fresh and unique glimpse into a city I know well as an immigrant. I hoped to find similarities in passionate narrative, both in critique and appraisal, descriptions of a fondness for the streets and the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, the admiration and annoyance of the crass Porteño manner. But to my surprise, and to the demise of my expectation, very little of Buenos Aires is registered in Witold's account in regards to landscape, arquitecture, intercultural exchange, and potent cultural nuances. Despite this, Gambrowicz cleverly uses Buenos Aires as a latent antagonist to issues otherwise held at bay in an individual comfortable at home. Buenos Aires plays the part as agitator to an individual's conception of identity and loyalty to a nation or the idea of home and the individual's pertinence to that home. I was disheartened that many different combinations of cities and nationalities could have been used as the setting for this story. But at the same time I must appreciate this universal characteristic and adaptability of Trans-Atlantic.

In the end, it is fascinating how the author was able to strip Buenos Aires of its heterogeneity and vibrancy. He leaves a blank canvass only to sloppily splatter the abstract mess that is blind allegiance to nations and fellow countrymen and giving an account of an individual desperately moving along to complete the fleeting journey of escaping, or disconnecting, from ones identity that is heavily saturated by the enigma of nationalism. The process is unique and much harder to explain in word, but I believe Witold Gambrowicz succeeds in Trans-Atlantic. However, this conclusion is hindered by my lack of Polish.

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Review: Biografía

Biografía Biografía by César Aira
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

César Aira no cesa ... a sorprender y experimentar innumerables maneras de (lo que parece ser un conjunto de desvíos) desplazar simultáneamente género y narración, lector y autor, con su estilo que les traslada todo a los mundos, los universos, y los microcosmos que se hacen un ente autónomo y único, en lo que ya se puede definir respectivamente como narrativa airaeana. ¡Qué manera de transcribir el cerebro al papel! ¿Puede que Aira haya encontrado el medio de liberar los pensamientos y ideas en tinta y hoja sin que fallezcan?

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Review: God's Revolution: Justice, Community, and the Coming Kingdom

God's Revolution: Justice, Community, and the Coming Kingdom God's Revolution: Justice, Community, and the Coming Kingdom by Eberhard Arnold
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Approach with caution. A manifesto that covers all aspects of the Christian life– a 3rd way in community and extreme simplicity, subversive to society and the norms the Western world perpetuates like eternal clockwork. This collection of vignettes written by Eberhard Arnold spanning the years of 1917 to 1933, come together as a coherent and complete exoneration for Christian community lived in what to many is conceived as exclusive, separatist, pretentious, and extreme. The only extremity here is Jesus' teachings clearly expressed with important Biblical reference and, apparently lived out at the Bruderhof international community that continues to thrive in 23 communities in the world today. It leaves the reader with interest in visiting or spending some time amongst one of the communities.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: A Sleepless Man Sits Up in Bed

A Sleepless Man Sits Up in Bed by Anthony Seidman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anthony Seidman’s third collection of poetry, A Sleepless Man Sits Up In Bed, unveils a liminal space parsimoniously claimed by many as a border and invites the reader not only to cross over, but to perforate the concept itself. This collection builds around objects that are seemingly mundane, like an “Uncapped Pen,” until it reaches profundity. Seidman takes something explicit and sublunary – “Coatlicue, Whose Name Means ‘Serpent Skirt’” – and sends the reader on a journey through the ancient and the modern, the past and future, the present and the nostalgic; ages, visions, and states converge in an ornate poetic wandering, submerging the reader into the ebb and flow of continuity and transformation.

Seidman’s liminal space awakened a memory of my days at the university, when I studied border cultures – specifically, the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, with its focus on the (im)possibilities of borderlands, a geographical area sensitive to hybridity. However, Seidman manifests a different approach to dialoguing about the possible domain of the borderland and proves that poetry is a veritable and noble way of engaging the linguistic hybridity, creating a completely autonomous dialogue that can flow independently. This book is a sustainment, or maybe a suspension, of this liminal area, held by a long thread stitched with poems that share rhythm and structure, with repetitions of certain words establishing a thematic backbone. Examples include the black dog, which appears multiple times in the collection – in one instance, as the soul of the poet in “2300 BC Emperor Yao” – and fronds, which recur in descriptions of a goddess’s brow and in those of a verdurous jungle.

Continue reading at the online magazine Entropy and / or View all my reviews

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Sieve

for Linda
The word will never be uttered without feel.
Darkness, in another hemisphere echoes distance–
accommodates a cloud of unknown named pain.
A juxtaposed stomach, half life & half death is divide
by a shadow so cold [winds] Deep and Sterile.
The passing of compound moments utterly sieve.

Gather and embrace and clasp. Clutch the sieve.
Silence draws a cold nip at a soul– jars a feel.
A gap between her & I marks a distance.                                 [two pillars]
Unintentional and acute, memory summons pain.
But as words catalyze to be spoken, a divide
births a dark light through the womb senescent; sterile.

How does a man approach what is sterile?
A negative; the man caught and clasped in a sieve.
Death, shadow, cold, and the dark light all feel–
they collaborate and construct an immense distance.
Further, Farther, Far– the Farthest destroys pain.
The pain follows them into an abyss, a divide.

Snow falls over the shadow. The memory is Divide.
A winter front, gray and threatening sterile–
but heed not– the deed and spoiled gathers in the sieve,
clever to avoid a breakdown, shifty for a false feel.
Tracks of a husbands feet shoveling piles of distance
numb his unsheathed hands, naked heart, disparate prints, pain.

And we settle because the depth pocked with pain
is a label which severs unitary emptiness that's divide.
Caper to the vicious circle, a cyclical death sterile,
contained and frozen by the pure and holy sieve.
We drag our claw as the abyss tugs us from the feel.
Now we flip or flop in favor of the uncouth Distance.

Shadow and Darkness remain and persist in Distance.
One deceives the other and reciprocates a universal pain.
Exhausted, life simplified in surrender, Death is divide.
If only our Mothers or Fathers had been equally sterile,
then all Sons and Daughters could have escaped the great sieve.
No loss for word, no need to respond, no need to continue, no need to feel.

Distance sterilizes the feeling,
much like time in the dark divides all
that settles. A silty pain putting the sieve to use.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Poetry in translation :: Confetti-Ash Selected Poems of Salvador Novo

Buy at SPD Books!
Confetti-Ash Selected Poems of Salvador Novo

The online literature magazine Circulo de Poesía offers a glimpse into 15 of the selected poems from Confetti-Ash translated by Anthony Seidman & David Shook. The print copy, which can be purchased at SPD Books, also includes my translation of Jorge Ortega's rapt introductory essay.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Review: Rilke shake

Phoneme Media´s Bilingual
edition translated by Hilary Kaplan
Rilke shake by Angélica Freitas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a blend, a mix, a jumble– a Rilke Shake. In Angélica Freitas’(@rilkeshake) collection of quirky poems the lively samba does not call her to the streets. Her “Rite of Passage” is composed of neighborly looks that silently deduce her identity with questions unspoken and answered before they are never asked. The author prefers her "Blake toasted– and buttered." Angélica claims to never have read Chaucer but does not lay down to this assumed literary inefficiency. She throws this fact into the mix of ingredients that is ironic, pithy, and concisely reflective showing that her literary antecedents are content and thickset without Chaucer at their table. The reader will find popular Brazilian culture and other global elements flipped and agitated, or mixed as the title suggests. What better way to take this approach than through poetry? Freitas’ does not hold back. The emotion and tone blends a nostalgia of love, and childhood memories, with a yearning desire that articulates past with future, resulting in a raw exposition of the present that suggests numerous lenses and angles exist and that they may be better shaken up rather than straightened and ordered. In the poem "October thirteenth" the poet directly concludes that she cannot finish the poem. It struck closely to what Alejandra Pizarnik has said about finishing a poem, “you cannot finish a poem, it’s not done, the poet abandon’s it, the reader must finish it.” Just like a good ol’ American milkshake, you cannot chug it, you have to pucker up and suck hard at the beginning because it’s too fun and exciting not too. However, you will quickly realize that the pace sets to a slower rhythm until it melts a bit- read melting as accustoming. As I accustomed to Freitas’ style and flow–when the consistency of the shake thinned out–I was able to finish it like all readers are invited to. Hilary Kaplan’s translation is scrupulous. The translator’s note, is strategically placed to conclude the collection with coherence which personally helped me to finish even more satisfied, jovially licking my lips leaving me with sticky fingers. Upon finishing this book of previously blogged poems, one is going to need a few napkins to clean up after the beautiful mess from delighting in Angélica Freitas` Rilke Shake. “Surrender your Mallormé, olé” and read Phoneme Media’s irreproachable bilingual edition of Rilke Shake.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review: Bessarabian Stamps: Stories

Bessarabian Stamps: Stories by Oleg Woolf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Available from Phoneme Media

Upon delving into Bessarabian Stamps, I immediately experienced what translator Boris Dralyuk had communicated in his preface that, "So much is born of so little." Immediately– I confirmed both the shortness and depth found in the book. Consequently it made for a challenging read while I struggled to maintain a coherent and linear reading of the 16 mini narratives due to characters with interchangeable names and seemingly ambiguous daily occurrences. However, I managed to advance in the reading and began to feel Oleg Woolf's mundane rhythm and the harmonious predicament of a community in limbo with no desire and no energy to be emancipated.

Woolf's descriptions of the town sustain each story and healthily compliment the interpersonal treatment between the characters and their town. They embellish each individual’s temperament and simultaneously, these temperaments become the crux of the book and its flow. In many instances Woolf intertwines Sănduleni into the DNA of each character, while each character weaves their own self reciprocally back into the town, thus showing that a place refuses to exist without those who inhabit it. Sănduleni has been precariously governed and manipulated by numerous regimes of rule throughout its history. It has seen it's borders morphed and moved numerous times deeming lines on a map as superfluous to its denizens that were either included or omitted by the busy boundaries. In Woolf's Sănduleni the trains sigh and the lakes need no inspiration. The town's profile is ostentatiously ordinary. Its people are mysterious and their language creates a tone and mood that is so unique that at times it seems unbearable to the reader. Yes, their language and dialogues are unconventional and may dizzy the reader, but they are the cogent themes of a people and region that have been dizzied by their own history. This consequently tends to lead the reader to believe that neither the region nor its people seem to fret over the ambiguity of their nationality or borders. But as the characters interact throughout each stamp, their ho-hum and somber tone latently screams, “that is not so!”

To be repetitive, the characters' discourse is a reflection of their setting– and Woolf pinpoints that with his wit and pithy narrative. Many stories can help a reader visualize another world. Bessarabian Stamps unleashes years and depths of a town in only a few pages. The setting and its dwellers effortlessly compete for the role of protagonist. The reader does not see another world, rather experiences and becomes familiar with the idiosyncrasies of an unusual normalcy found in the interaction of the habitants in their town. The people and the place will leave any curious reader profoundly satisfied and enlightened in a shadow of repetitive uncertainty. Does the post physically arrive to Sănduleni? Are these Stamps of any veracity? This book is a door to a plethora of other doors, each providing a glimpse into a community and its people where both refuse to reveal anything definitive about their shared predicament, leaving the reader's imagination to excavate its own depths. It must not go without mention that Boris Dralyuk has provided a vigorous translation that is certain to quench the curiosity of the English-speaking reader.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Good Air?

Air exposes its essence to what we create with it and how we apply her to life. El Negro has arrived to Buenos Aires. I heard the screams from the tarmac. They reached my 15th floor balcony 37 kilometers away. I am not certain how or even why– disconcerting. Were they screeches perhaps? Sharp like an eagle or hungry like a vulture? I could not paint sounds with colors, a gift I have had since I can remember– a peculiar way I create with the air. The block was unconscious and indecisive, possibly it was bad circulation. The shadow tarried in a moribund black as the red, white and blue cautiously arbitrated the celeste and white. I chose the sun. I chose the sun and looked directly at it with open eyes as it glazed the surface of the Río de la Plata and I, as if we were two sisters admiring ourselves in a lateral mirror. Etta James sounded on my iPod and we forgot about the screeches, or the shrieks, or the screams, setting off from the south of the urban cone. I envisaged a tepid white forearm that belonged to Etta, flipped belly-up ready to fillet- upturned over her left thigh like a dorado, furtive in a powder room of the radio station, helplessly submitting to a silver needle that would silence the internal screams– guttural from the innards and exposed in streams from the beaks of demon eagles trapped in her that would subsequently transform and morph while voyaging through her great redeemer. 15 minutes later over the broadcast to a %99 listener majority of a vibrant white, her vocal chords redeemed it all. Staring at the sun I thought of El Negro and Etta. I sucked the mate gourd to a quagmire that synthesized my overall posture as the sun veiled me and my sister. Chavez gifted El Negro Las venas abiertas de América Latina by Eduardo Galeano. What about the Open Veins of Etta James, or the Open Veins of Billie Holiday? Chavez is dead, so is Galeano, Etta, and Billie, too. Maybe the Engineer will give el Negro a book. Civility and Barbarity by Sarmiento? Or Bases by Alberdi? Operación Masacre by Rodolfo Walsh? The air is truly good today, but Etta would have belted out redemption, unleashing those internal gryphons to pluck the eyes of demagoguery, and pecking at the air to silence the misused air of the screeches and screams– belting from the tarmac.
March 23rd, 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda

Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda by Emmanuel M. Katongole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emmanuel M. Katongole opens with a concise background focusing on colonial intervention and oppression in the Great lake District of Africa. He intercalates it with a personal panorama of family history and the personal formation of his identity as an African, European Academic, Catholic, and current professor at a Protestant seminary in the United States. Identity formation is presented as a pillar to this book. Identity and how it is formed and then employed in life and faith is what this book is about; particularly our body and its position in the shadow of our histories and futures (in our present day to day). I note that despite citations and historical references in the book, I do not consider it a history book. However, it does use facts as a second pillar to position itself boldly on historic background and western interpretation of the identity and history of Africa, encouraging the interest of the reader, as it did mine, to gather further reading for historical knowledge.

Katongole unveils to the White Western reader the Christian church's compliance during the Scramble for Africa– specifically in the insalubrious and oppressive stratification of Bantu people in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The 1994 Rwandan Genocide, beginning around Easter, is the culmination of this oppression and division, imperialism, and crusadesque intervention of the Church empowered by the Nation of Belgium. The author offers the genocide (culmination) as an opportunity to utilize it as a "mirror" for the Western Church, seeing its identity and posture in today's world. He takes to task different perceptions that distort the Church's posture when interacting with Africa– both in praxis and in thought.

His final conclusion guides the western reader to embrace the mirror in all its rawness and gruesomeness– using all the different body types; the victims, the opposers of the genocide, and those that helmed the country's developmental and philanthropical programs during the genocide (whom fled at first notion of a genocide) to see who we identify with. For instance– What would my body and its posture reflect in a race war in the United States?

The identity described and explained in the book– an identity adhered to the example of Jesus Christ in the Christian Bible, a Christidentity– nullifies any allegiances to institution, history, sex, race, or ethnicity. It subverts all identity. The intentional union between the spirit and the flesh cannot function if separated. If they do, we see distortion and extremism based on self-servitude, i.e. genocides. If the union is recognized, learned, and disciplined in practice, following Christ's Beatitudes for example, the extension of this union will manifest in the present by means of the body's posture; to love, to sacrifice, to revolt, to protest, to love one's enemy, and to struggle for justice– even in the ominous cloud of death and terror.

Emmanuel M. Katongole offers Christianity as a tool. It is a 3rd way in today's world. Utilized meekly and consciously, the human being can subvert societal norms and modes of seeing oneself, others, the purpose of life, and reposition themselves (the body and spirit) using the Rwandan narrative as the mirror. The lesson, like all history, is not to scoff and criticize how not to repeat errors and mistakes, to remember how great our nation is and decide what we need to do to bring its greatness back (or maintain its greatness); rather History is to be utilized to see ourselves and our culture and societies as a pluralistic reflection with a global narrative, recognizing that we are all capable of the greatest good & the greatest evil, even shedding violently the blood of our own kin. If we lose sight of this mirror offered by the author, or refuse to recognize it, or see it then shatter it out of anger, guilt, resentment, denial, fear; we will surely self destruct. Without a subversive imagination, we will create our own westernized, white, and "civilized", genocide.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Stomach, mind, & headed to the Chino

Lists are made and
the checks go in
the boxes, please.
The comforts of order
are simple reminders,
a string on the finger,
a note on the fridge–
reminders of all the
chaos that swirls in
the sky, in the bowls
of cereal & toilettes,
the winds at the tops
of the trees, and the
flurries of our minds.
Lists of acrylic paint
secrete the fantasies
portrayed as realities,
to build us a quaint,
simple, devout Family.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

An ode to Amenaza

Edited by Olga García (Garden Oak Press, 2015)
Click to purchase
My translation of the poem Soneto La Carpio by poet, translator, and friend David Shook was published this past year in the bilingual anthology Frontera Piel/Skin Border. "It is an ode to his 'cock'"– as Andrew Perez of The Sun writes. Amenaza was a fighting cock purchased while David and I were living in Costa Rica back in 2008. Together we frequented the furrowed dirt streets (now mostly paved) of La Cueva del Sapo, or La CarpioCock fighting and breeding was not hard to come by in the neighborhood veined by a myriad of streets. Subversive to the hills of higher class neighborhoods in the hills, La Carpio is like an excavation, or quarry, squatted and developed by Nicaraguan refugees. One has to descend into La Carpio. In doing so, the individual cannot escape contemplating the neighborhood that beautifully takes to task societal structure and questions a collective majority that acquiesces the marginalized in present day structures.

The underpinning of the neighborhood is an organic response to fundamental needs for survival, escape, settlement (planting roots), raising families, and creating a collective identity in a foreign land.  At the age of 17 I did not realize the commonalties I shared with many of the friends in the neighborhood, nor my personal need for survival, escape, settlement, and a collective identity. La Carpio and its people were enriching my identity, deconstructing it and restructuring it. My preconceived notions of existence and life as I knew it were befuddled much to the breach found in language and privilege.

La Carpio's presence in San Jose subversively began, has grown, and now thrives. Shook has astutely taken a form, deconstructed it and restructured it, and possibly echoed this sequence. His sonnet has been molded into the flow and rhythm of life in La Carpio. His poetics bring a closeness to the investment of putting money towards a fighting cock in hopes for entertainment, winnings, and pride. It represents individuals identifying with risk, importance, and success while being battered daily by monotony, shallow pockets, and marginalization. Gruesome like a cock fight, David tears apart the traditional Sonnet and transfigures it with precision– fitting it like a glove on the milieu of La Carpio. The poem calls for a plummet into the opulent exposure found in La Carpio and its microcosm. I am grateful to have translated this poem, grateful to see her in print in a bilingual edition, grateful for David's ode to Amenaza, and grateful to a neighborhood and individuals that marked me deeply, much like the iron talons that continue to mark and slit a more recent generation of cocks in La Cueva del Sapo.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Can one reconfigure a calendar?
May one reconfigure ancient form and innate order– moments
in a sequence?

Can one vitiate accounts of information,
communications, and messages? Summon a new habit? Abide to brazen law or
allude to nebulous reform or renewal?

Can one thrust out into good will and prudence?

Long ago rain satiates the pueblo, cleanses municipal waterways and disputes
antiquated municipal clauses.

Long ago human folly prescribes doggedness and
 sagacity is an equal to recklessness.