To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jerome Rothenberg: At Huidobro’s Tomb, a Recollection & Lament

                        open this tomb
                        at the bottom of the tomb
                        you will find the sea           

at Huidobro’s tomb
the dirt lies
scattered    beer cans
from a later time
& tiny bones,
half chewed,

the sad detritus
of a world
still not created,
where the stones
under our feet
carry the stains

not from the century
before us
nor looking at it
from across the bay
the bright electric signals
Parra saw

but as we face it now
the sea still there
beneath it
helpless to stop
the spectators who piss
onto its stones

Huidobro’s tomb
receptacle for what
was long forgotten  
a white spot
on a hill of green
beset by grime

the birds that fly
backwards from where
Neruda rests
where overhead the cross
hangs in the sky
unseen* by us                                   * unclaimed

huidobro’s tomb
the place to fly
to land among
the mindless
sightless dancers    
without eyes or limbs

broken bottles
everywhere we turn
the diamond
in your dreams
cracked open
in  a mindless sea

the sound
of distant crowds
marching to join us
Huidobro’s tomb
a lonely outpost
over the void

like a dot
that blossoms
neither good
nor evil
true or beautiful
or left in place

lonely & lost
Huidobro’s ghost
arises from his tomb
& looking down
sees nothing

but a field on Mars


note. 18.xi.2004.  We had first been visiting with Nicanor Parra, from whose house we looked across the water to Huidobro’s tomb in Cartagena.  The grave there appeared as a white spot set against the green hills in the background.  All of this seemed almost pastoral & truly fitting for a great poet's gravesite, but when we drove there shortly after, the scene we found was one of desolation – devastation really – with beer cans & other debris from local partiers & small stones kicked & scattered under foot.  It was something I didn’t write about then, though the image pained & stuck with me, so that the poem I should have written earlier has just now happened.  (J.R.)

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