Monthly Archives: February 2017

To Laugh While Weeping (Juan de Dios Peza)

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Watching Garrik – an actor from England –
the people would say applauding:
“You are the funniest one on earth
and the happiest one…”
And the comedian would laugh.

Victims of melancholy, the highest lords,
during their darkest and heaviest nights
would go see the king of actors
and change their melancholy into roars of laughter.

Once, before a famous doctor,
came a man with eyes so somber:
“I suffer – he said -, an illness so horrible
as this paleness of my face”

“Nothing holds any enchantment or attractiveness;
I don’t care about my name or my fate
I die living an eternal melancholy
and my only hope is that of death”.

– Travel and distract yourself
– I’ve traveled so much!
– Search for readings
– I’ve read so much!
– Have a woman love you
– But I am loved
– Get a title
– I was born a noble

– Might you need money?
– I have riches
– Do you like compliments?
– I hear so many!
– What do you have as a family?
– My sadness
– Do you go to the cemeteries?
– Often, very often.

– Of your current life, do you have witnesses?
– Yes, but I don’t let them impose their burdens;
I call the dead my friends;
I call the living my torturers.

– It leaves me – added the doctor – perplexed
your illness and I must not scare you;
Take today this advise as a prescription
only watching Garrik you can be cured.

-Garrik?
-Yes, Garrik… The most indolent
and austere society anxiously seeks him;
everyone who sees him, dies of laughter;
he has an amazing artistic grace.

– And me? Will he make me laugh?
-Ah, yes, I swear it;
he and no one but him; but… what disturbs you?
-So – said the patient – I won’t be cured;
I am Garrik! Change my prescription.

How many are there who, tired of life,
ill with pain, dead with tedium,
make others laugh as the suicidal actor,
without finding a remedy for their illness!

Ay! How often we laugh when we cry!
Nobody trust the merriment of laughter,
because in those beings devoured by pain,
the soul groans when the face laughs!

If faith dies, if calm flees,
if our feet only step on thistles,
the tempest of the soul hurls to the face,
a sad lighting: a smile.

The carnival of the world is such a trickster,
that life is but a short masquerade;
here we learn to laugh with tears
and also to laugh while weeping.

“To Laugh While Weeping” Juan de Dios Peza

Translated by Marga Lacabe 

Note: Listened to a writer/poet friend translate poetry by this Mexican poet on Sunday. It’s been stuck in my head ever since. 

Broken (Rough Draft)

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After the fight

she heard you while you

thought she was sleeping.

The next morning, she found

a broken bottle,

a smashed chair,

last night’s echoes,

and no longer surprised she was left

behind to sweep the aftermath alone.

She’ll deal with your wreckage

later, maybe even throw away anything

that ignites your image,

then reinvent a new home for herself.

But, tomorrow.

She’s still listening

to last night,  and coping with

the aftershock of your absence.

Stigma (Revised)

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One day,

it just required too much

energy to pretend

or care.

So I whispered the diagnosis

then said it louder.

 

But there will be consequences: exile,

their discomfort at my frankness, even

your distance–

 

“No one would want to be seen 

with you, your issues–“

 

Well, then so be it.

Baking Soda (Rough Draft)

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Like every momma, she had her own remedies,
like baking soda
on a canker sore. It doesn’t sound easy,
but it worked; besides, her own
mother (my grandmother, died before
I was born) tried this on her,
“And see? I survived.” (Shrug).

I wouldn’t budge; She needed to bend before me
at the bathroom sink, tug
at my lip to expose the ulcer, milk white
and irritated by a curious tongue
running over its crater.

“Hold still.”
It’s better to plunge into the drama,
to twist and grind a coated finger into
the open wound before my consent.
The sting doesn’t make a noise;
if it did, it would have sizzled,
hissed like meat frying on a skillet,
or the poppop…pop of grease landing on
dodging fingers.

And it was over, the pain left
to fade as I slept away anger on the jaw.

My momma
and baking soda
taught me the first life lesson:
sometimes, it must get worse, then better.
By the time I had reached my twenties
I had heard this saying so many times,
in so many ways,
that it began to sound too hopeful
for a self-styled cynic. So maybe
that’s why it’s only true when I hear
it in her voice on days it’s time
to resort to her remedy.

Micropoetry of the Week

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1.

After the fight
I heard you while you
thought I was sleeping.
The next morning, I saw
the broken bottle,
overturned chair,
the end of our romance.

2.

It’s hard to write
why I love you.
I can say you are
handsome
smart
funny
my soulmate.

But you are so much
more than clichés.

3.

In the silence
and boldness
provided by dark,
we still learn about
our bodies & its
eternal language.

4.

Sometimes
it must get worse,
than better.
It was a lesson
from baking soda
when momma would coat
a canker sore to wellness.

5.

If they were walls
they would have listened
to our sleep volume voices
murmur newlywed vows,
watched our body language of love.

6.

I don’t know when
I began to spread
my golden wings,
or if I ever
soared at all.
I just know that I
came a long way
from crawling

7.

It used to scare me
Once,
because you can’t be
adult & lost.
I’m still not so sure
about tomorrow,
but that’s expected
nowadays.

8.

I found her with the phone
in her hand while losing color
in her face.
“What’s the matter?”

She answered
& I suffered too.

9.

A bottle of wine between us
loosened his tongue,
my mind.
He was older, so had more
answers to questions
that once didn’t exist.
So, I listened.

10.

I don’t know what to tell you
when you talk about
being a “ride or die”
& I’ve already told you
“maybe”
“I don’t know…”
then finally
“this is not gonna work.”

Stigma (Rough draft)

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One day I decided

to tell the world

I wasn’t okay because

it’s just too much energy

to pretend

or care.

For the first time, I understood

the word neuroatypical,

and said it, above a whisper.

 

You explained to me

the consequences: exile, stares,

whispers behind my back.

No one needs to know about

your panic attacks.

No one will understand

why you think differently in a crowd.

No one wants to know that

you take medication.

No one wants to be seen with you

and your “issues”.

 

Then so be it.

Even if it meant I would lose

my image,

the right side of the world,

and even you.

 

Note: just a late night thought on paper.

 

XVII or I Do Not Love You… (Pablo Naruda)

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I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

–“XVII (I Do Not Love You…)” by Pablo Naruda
Translation by Stephen Tapscott

Note: For a special someone (romantic or not) for today.