Ernesto Priego

Verbal Countries
       for Jean

I don't write poesía en español
because I have stopped believing in origins.

I try, instead, to look for futures I obviously don't have.
Verb tenses not yet invented, dreams deferred for too long,
Infinitives as usual not completed and not yet began,
A glass of whiskey over a red bilingual dictionary.

Even if love were not what I wanted
I would still write en inglés
because that's the color of the ink within my skin
and the language and shape of these tattoos.

Look at me: you can tell it's not my tongue.
My language has abandoned me forever,
I am not who I am or who you think I am.
I write in something else to make you think you are not here.
In brief, we are always somewhere else, never here, always looking away.

And even if love were not what I wanted
I would still dream in these forever-foreign words,
por siempre extrañas, por siempre otras
words that embarrass me a little in their otherness.

I know I sound funny. I know this sounds weird.
It's a different accent. Picture me drunk, if you will,
or just a little bit dizzy. I stumble upon words like little stones en los frijoles.

Bite these words.
You may still remember me mañana, mas no hoy,
porque el hoy no llega aún.

I could not write these lines in my own language because there is no such thing
     as anything to own.
We have been deprived from that privilege.
Despojados de la lengua propia, we dream in other verbal countries.

Este soy yo, in any language.


I'd like to tell you
"here I am,
come over,
let's have tea."

I'd like to tell you
I am here,
where we always
knew it would be.

Places remain
the hearts of their people
change with time
but roads keep names

and traffic directions
and bridges cross the river
and the skyline fights clouds
and whispers songs of old.

I'd like to be another,
like a shepherd dreaming
of the sea, painfully in love
with a woman's smile.

I'd like to be able to tell you,
as the roads outside get busy
and the smell of a small room
has the color of what never was.

After Kenneth Patchen, as we drive home on a Friday evening, 2005

Knowing    when grass    will cover us;
desolate    boys standing    on unknown men
remains,    names engraved    not quite dead,
cold    stars over    the tragic hero
holding    the skulls    of gin-drunk sleepwalkers
who    cut their    throats with dirty
knives.    We stand    now, and laugh.

Spring 2005

pleut sur
mon coeur comme

la ville,
ô grande taciturne,

heaven, like
a weeping cloud,

plaisir de
la tristesse, la

tristezza, Schwermut,
as passersby splash

feet against
the city's ground.

heart, fragile

Happy Ending
       for Jardiniére

I come back
to this feeling
of the body.

Waking up
is some sort
of postponement;

the discovery
of paces, blood
rushing everywhere

flooding currents
dreamflows of inventions
heartaches & dirty cheap hotels

for the homelessly ill
and the hopelessly broken
unable to think of new

possibilities and dawns
as one forgets the pains
of leaving names behind.

Think of it this way:
you come back to endings
like you leave an empty theater

after everyone has left
empty paper cups and tears,
slowly and with a sigh,

wondering about the futures
of conclusions & the lies
implicit in illusions.

I come back
to this fake deathbed
I built with my own pain.

A happy ending for me
would be a brand new beginning:
the great expectation of oblivion.

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Blogger jardinière said...

I thank both Ernesto for writing and Mark for publishing these poems. Although the one "for me" is the third, I feel that all of them touch me as they spoke directly to me - you know: the magic "encounter" made possible (only) by poetry.

2:07 AM  

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