20 December 2011

João Cabral de Melo Neto

[from João Cabral de Melo Neto in Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, ed. Stephen Tapscott, Texas, 1996]

Weaving the Morning


One rooster does not weave a morning,
he will always need the other roosters,
one to pick up the shout that he
and toss it to another, another rooster
to pick up the shout that a rooster before him
and toss it to another, and other roosters
with many other roosters to criss-cross
the sun-threads of their rooster-shouts
so that the morning, starting from a frail cobweb,
may go on being woven, among all the roosters.


And growing larger, becoming a cloth,
pitching itself a tent where they all may enter,
inter-unfurling itself for them all, in the tent
(the morning) which soars free of ties and ropes –
the morning, tent of a weave so light
that, woven, it lifts itself through itself: balloon light.

tr. Galway Kinnell

João Cabral de Melo Neto

05 December 2011

Alice Notley

[from Alice Notley's Culture of One, Penguin, 2011]

Culture of One

Marie made things in the gully: she made her life, sure, more than practically anyone else did, but she wrote things down on paper discarded in the dump and she made figures out of wood and rocks and cord and burntness and whatever. The figures didn't really look like anyone, maybe her a little, and the dogs the same color as everything with wolf mouths, I mean coyote.

Every once in a while a kid burned down her shack, while she was out foraging. Then her works both written and made out of stuff would get burnt. She'd start again. She always remembered how to do it.

Where does culture come from? It comes from the materials you do it with.

When she made the shark out of rotting wood, I guess it was just a fish. A carp, probably, but she called it a shark. She put a little woman in its mouth, but it wasn't her; and it wasn't me, whatever I say. It was the wood calling out. It was just some woman, no it wasn't even a woman.

What are you going to do when they burn up your shack? I don't care, it'll still be great here.