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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.