Tuesday, October 14, 2008

recurring poem #3

Federico Garcia Lorca: New York (Office and Denunciation)

To Fernando Vela

Under the multiplications,
a drop of duck's blood;
under the divisions,
a drop of sailor's blood;
under the additions, a river of tender blood.
A river that sings and flows
past bedrooms in the boroughs -
and it's money, cement, or wind
in New York's counterfeit dawn.
I know the mountains exist.
And wisdom's eyeglasses,
too. But I didn't come to see the sky.
I'm here to see the clouded blood,
the blood that sweeps machines over waterfalls
and the soul toward the cobra's tongue.
Every day in New York, they slaughter
four million ducks,
five million hogs,
two thousand pigeons to accommodate the tastes of
the dying,
one million cows,
one million lambs,
and two million roosters
that smash the sky to pieces.

It's better to sob while honing a blade
or kill dogs on the delirious hunts
than to resist at dawn
the endless milk trains,
the endless blood trains
and the trains of roses, manacled
by the dealers in perfume.
The ducks and the pigeons,
and the hogs and the lambs

lay their drops of blood
under the multiplications,
and the terrified bellowing of the cows wrung dry
fills the valley with sorrow
where the Hudson gets drunk on oil.

I denounce everyone
who ignores the other half,
the half that can't be redeemed,
who lift their mountains of cement
where the hearts beat
inside forgotten little animals
and where all of us will fall
in the last feast of pneumatic drills.
I spit in all your faces.
The other half hears me,
devouring, pissing, flying in their purity,
like the supers' children in lobbies

who carry fragile twigs
to the emptied spaces where
the insect antennae are rusting.
This is not hell, but the street.
Not death, but the fruit stand.
There is a world of tamed rivers and distances just beyond our grasp
in the cat's paw smashed by a car,
and I hear the earthworm's song
in the hearts of many girls.
Rust, fermentation, earth tremor.

You yourself are the earth as you drift in office numbers.
What shall I do now? Set the landscapes in order?
Order the loves that soon become photographs,
that soon become pieces of wood and mouthfuls of blood?
No, no: I denounce it all.
I denounce the conspiracy

of these deserted offices
that radiate no agony,
that erase the forest's plans,
and I offer myself as food for the cows wrung dry
when their bellowing fills the valley
where the Hudson gets drunk on oil.

- Federico Garcia Lorca, 1930, from Poet in New York, translated by Greg Simon & Steven F White.

Below: Federico Garcia Lorca, Self-portrait in New York

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