Antonio Machadoís Off Season

Hollywood Ending

Schroedingerís Cat and the Last Eclipse of the Millennium

 

Antonio Machadoís Off Season

 

Tourists from Seville gather round Antonio Machadoís grave

To argue why he chose to stop running in this town.

Collioure in November is barren as the outer planets.

Les Templiers Bar and Hotel is only half-full. The mistral

Has shut down the lovely balconies along the promenade

Where at some point, under the windswept moon,

Antonio Machado walks his mother home to die. You canít tell

By the calm on their faces how theyíve colluded like

Streetwise scalawags, how theyíve perfected the illusion.

No one knows that something is about to come amiss,

A pixel will disappear from the screen. The baker is already

Filling the alleys with the telltale scent of rising dough.

Someone is singing a ballad in Catalan, a language invisible

To the naked eye. The rookie legionnaires will come later,

But already their coffins float along the estuary

Like brightly colored kayaks. The castleís lookout

Is only partly lit to save on gas. War is elsewhere

And is always coming near. If you know where to walk

You can follow the shape of a swastika. Young men drink

In soccer bars, as beautiful as the whores they will fuck tonight,

An empire of salt on each otherís skins. Antonio Machado

Opens the windows. The African wind blusters in.

He has a view of the cemetery. He knows exactly where

His bones will continue to die. He clothes his mother

In his own suit and fixes his hat on her head. He lays her

On a bed in a room they havenít used in years.

Then he puts on her gown, a wig of twigs, her soft red shoes,

And lies down on her bed. And just as he knew it,

As the moon drowned in the sea, the devil came

With the rumbling of the garbage truck, sniffed around,

Recognized the nauseating cologne, and took him down,

Bones and all, into the cellar of forgetting, where poets

Age beyond perfection, condemned to the bitter sadness

Of their words. This is how you save someone. This is how

You disappear. No one knows what happened. The tourists

Still keep coming. His mailbox still gets fat with mail.

Nothing gets returned to sender. No one eats the roses.

 

 

Hollywood Ending

 

The bandoneon begins,

and now itís the end of the film

with sitars and tambours.

Music pledges no allegiance,

sound up as the heroine gets her share

of madness and ecstasy

like all the losers in this loveless town,

gets kicked around one night

at the laundromat,

falls in love, many frames later,

with a gangster-poet (perpetual

cigarette, disheveled hair).

They rent a convertible,

kill somebody

or themselves. Itís all the same,

someone has to break

from the weight of all this light,

someone has to stand in the panorama

of big emotions.

The desert shots will be wider than love.

Love is not wide,

itís smaller than the human heart,

but it casts a shadow from here to Texas.

Things die under its shadow,

cars and coyotes, anything that moves.

The interstate is strewn with wrecks and bones.

She sucks him off at the wheel.

He loves her more than money.

Theyíre not going to stop

until the next stretch of nowhere

runs out of gas, until the nodding nobodies

sleep off their hangovers in a place

no contraband has yet described.

Until the highway narrows to a dot

of sundown, and their names scroll up

against the blacked-out sky.

 

 

Schroedingerís Cat and the Last Eclipse of the Millennium

 

The one who begins this poem wonít be the same

As the one who will end it. Already

 

Fifteen minutes have passed since I wrote those lines.

I take my shirt off. The day is getting warm.

 

Yesterday I learned two words: Geheim, which is German

For secret. Temem, which is Arabic

 

For plenitude. In a few hours a hundred million people

Who do not speak the same language

 

Will gaze at the last eclipse of the millennium. Bonheur,

what a beautiful word when formed by the mouth

 

Of a French Buddhist. Didnít I tell you words

Should be emptied like a vessel, didnít I tell you I loved

 

Schroedingerís cat. Kept for days in a closed box

The cat can either live or die, but until we look

 

It is neither dead nor alive. Next question. Ask me what light

Feels like, at the instant when it falls. The one

 

Who ends this poem is not the same as the one

Who will stand accused and be forced to deny it.

 

Can sorrow be weighed in gravitons? Is fear genetic?

Does the soul know it exists? Does it echolocate its way

 

In this world, looking for an exit? The inferno that we form

by being together. ó Calvino. I use these words

 

To keep from looking away, ensorcelled by the radiantly

Mortal, but with zero yearning. X = wonder,

 

Vivid under the spellís recurring question: Peut-on

Naitre-mourir? Lust kills joy

 

Instantly: half glass fully empty. Diamond cusp,

Be beautiful, brief, and blinding.

 

Poems by Eric Gamalinda

 

 

 

respiro@2000-2004 All rights reserved