Monday, March 31, 2014

Herbert Joseph Spinden, from Songs of the Tewa (1933)

This ki kha’a or shouting song is sung by men at work in the fields or coming home from the hunt. It refers to the annual rabbit drive and the places mentioned are favorite hunting places of the San Juan Indians corresponding to the four directions. The Road of Magic is the Road of Life. But also it runs before the cradle and beyond the grave and is travelled by the souls of the unborn and the ghosts of the dead. Along this Magic Road come the Rain Gods, passing through lakes that are gateways of the underworld.
Owe P’in tsä âkonu
Yonder-at Mountain-white Plain
He häyago he mbo’o
Long-ago-very it was good.
O’ke ’anyu O’ke ’enu nda
San Juan girls San Juan boys and
Ndi arang yi nde’e
They used to walk together.
Haran Tsi p’o na k’o inge
Where Magic-road its-lying-at.
Owe Yo phe âkonu . . . . .
Yonder-at Cactus-stalk Plain
Owe Thun’un p’i âkonu . . . . .
Yonder-at Painted-mountain Plain.
Näwe Wombi ri âkonu
Here-at Medicine-hill Plain
Ho’o ngi arang yi’i
Now we walk together
O’ke ’anyu O’ke ’enu nda
San Juan girls San Juan boys and
Ho’o ngi arang yi’i
Now we walk-together
Haran Tsi p’o na k’o inge
Where Magic-road its-lying at.
The comparison of a maiden and a flower is perhaps as old as any form of poetic speech. Yet one may wonder whether the excessive use of "flowery speech" by the Aztecs may not have set a fashion which spread to the north.
I give the Tewa words with the stress accents:
Sú K’wa K’e wé na póvi tshá nde
In póvi, in póvi, ndo mú iri
Kányi na nándi na ré si tä!
In póvi, in póvi, ndo mú iri
Ts’e, okí, t’agi, na póvi tshá.
At Su k’wa k’e there used to bloom a flower—
That flower, that flower, whene’er I see it now
Alas, so far away, why then I weep;
That flower, that flower, whene’er I see it now,
For yellow, fresh and full-blown once it bloomed.
This song is sung by children at play.
Sagi wo nging povi sa,
Mbe ndu nde’e nging povi sa,
P’o pe’e nging povi sa,
I ’ang ho’ nging povi sa.
Prettily we wear flowers.
Little flowers of the muskmelon we wear,
Little flowers of the watermelon we wear,
So now we wear flowers.
The K’osa or Delight Makers belong to three orders, the Kwirana K’osa, the Tewa K’osa and the Tema K’osa. This initiation chant of the Kwirana K’osa expresses the high spiritual purpose of these sacred clowns. It seems that the institution is distributed among all the village Indians of the Southwest. Mrs. Matilda Cox Stephenson gives ceremonial material on the Kwirana organization at Sia and I quote for comparison part of a song secured by her:
White floating clouds, clouds like plains,
Sun, Moon, Puma, Bear, Badger, Wolf
Eagle, Shrew, Elder War Hero, Younger War Hero,
Warrior of the North, Warrior of the West,
Warrior of the South, Warrior of the East,
Warrior of the Above, Warrior of the Below,
Medicine Water Bowl, Cloud Bowl, Ceremonial Water Bowl,
I make a road of meal, the ancient road, the ancient road.
At the Hopi villages the order is called Pai-a kya-muh according to Fewkes (A Journal of American Ethnology II pp. 10–11), a name which seems to have been derived from Than phaiya tchamu of the Tewa text. Of course Hano on the First Mesa is really a Tewa village.
Näwe ho’o we ma’a na imbi sendo’in
Here-at now we bring you Oh our old men
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsâ wä’in
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person blue
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tse’nyin
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person yellow.
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa p’i’in
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person red
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsä’in
Sun- fire- Cloud person white
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa nu khu win
Sun-fire deity Cloud person dark
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsä neg’in
Sun-fire-deity Cloud person all colors
Nä we we ma’a ho’o ovi pi tuwä phe
Here at we bring you now your heart-hunt-stick
O mi gi’in ovi p’o sa k’u wiri
We make it for you tobacco to smoke
O mi gi’in ovi khu khi ko puri
We make it for you cornmeal to eat
Hâ wo’a omi gi’in ovi
Little bit for all we make it for you
Thamu khe nyi ye’gi’in p’in piye p’in k’eri
At dawn ready to walk be northward mountain top
Tso mpi ye hwage yoge p’in k’eri
Westward lakewards great mountain top
O ko mpiye tshu sogi p’in k’eri
Southward where the Shu sit mountain top
Than piye thamu yogi p’in k’eri
Eastward dawn-great mountain top
Opa makori p’in k’eri
Universe-sky mountain top
Nan soge nuge p’in k’eri
Earth-sit-under-at mountain top
Okhuwa povi phi si ni nge p’i
Cloud flowers that are not barren
Oving okhuwa povi pi ye iwe
You-them cloud flowers when you bring there-at
We to p’in piye p’in k’eri
Far off northward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Tsom piye p’i k’eri
Westward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Akom piye p’i k’eri
Southward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Than piye p’in k’eri
Eastward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Opa makori p’in k’eri
Universe-sky mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Nan soge nuge p’in k’eri
Earth-sitting-below mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
P’in pinu oving sokhuwa pa’are k’u’u iwe
Mountain middle you-them fogs first lay there-at
Iwe ha ndi re Ok’e owinge piye
There-at that is why San Juan town towards
Oving tha mu khe ma iwe
You-them at dawn ready bring there-at
Umbi tsigu wänu kwa to kwa p’o wogi
Your lightning thunder rain together
Khi ye nava k’u p’in nge heri
Transform farms lying-in-middle and
Ovi thamu khe kâng ndiwe
You dawn ready have come there-at
He ndi ri ako na k’o igi heri
That is why plain where-it is lying and
Ha ndi ri ako p’in wo’o pa k’wone
That is why plains-mountains revived lie
Ha ndi ri ho’o umbi t’a p’o kwin
That is why now your drying lakes
Un k’wo ni nge ho’o
Your where they are lying now
Oving wo’a pa k’wo ne iwe
You-them revived lie there-at
Tsing we nu hä pang ri mbo’e
Tame animals one-and-all children
T’ä t’o wa ’e gin sigi muni
All little people to be loved by the gods
We nge naimbi kwiyo
Till where our Great Mother’s
Ndi hâ sa k’a ’a po wa in ge heri
Her breath-sound reaches even-till there
Yuta, Savi, Wa savi, Kai wa,
Utes, Apaches, Navajo, Kiowa
Komantsi, Tsaiyena iwe ri mbo’o
Comanche, Cheyenne there-at all
K’wä k’u towa ndi mu in iwe ri mbo’o
Mexican people they are the ones there-at all
Americano t’owa ndi mu’in
American people they are the ones
We nge naimbe kwi yo’un
Till there our Great Mother’s
Ndi hâ sa k’a’a powa mge heri
Her breath-sound reaches even-till there
Ho’o ri sigi mu ni ndi seka ni
Now they loved by the gods, they by each other
Ina hai ndi ri ngi piva
So that is why we expect
Ngi hu nä säta t’o wa k’eri
We will eat here we-mortals-on-earth
Nyä ra’i pá yo, nyä ra’i i phoye khu tha
Good summer good harvest night-day
Ha’a ming pho ye tha-khu nding k’u we
The-same-kind harvest day-night, may they place.
* * * * *
The Tewa villages are all divided into two groups of clans, one commonly known as the Summer People and the other as the Winter People. The Race Dance seems to be a special magical effort to relieve the Sun in its travels, especially while the Sun seems tired at the solstices. Some idea of the astronomical significance appears in the words. The Great-Star of the Dark Night Man appears to be Jupiter.
Summer People's Song
Than sendo i thamu khe winu Yophe k’ewe
Sun Old Man he at dawn ready must stand Cactus Stalk Ridge on.
P’o sendo wa’a i thamu khe winu Yophe k’ewe
Moon Old Man also he at dawn ready must stand, Cactus Stalk Ridge on
Mba i thamu khe winu iwe ra han O’ke owinge
And he at dawn ready must stand thence going San Juan toward
I thamu khe ho’o tse hwä kwa wi p’o.
He at dawn ready now Eagle Tail Rain Standing Road.
Winter People’s Song
Towa’e tsä’i’i seng K’u seng p’i neri
Little People White Men Stone-Man-Mountain from
Mbi thamu khe winu O’ke owinge piye
You two at dawn ready must stand San Juan town towards
Kwa wi p’o ge O’ke owinge piye
Rain Standing Road at San Juan town towards
Agoyo nu khu seng i thamu khe winu
Great-Star-Dark-Night Man at dawn ready must stand
O’ke owinge piye.
San Juan town towards.
* * * * * 
Avanyu or P’o anyu is pictured as a horned serpent often with clouds attached to his body and a tongue of barbed lightning. He is a dreaded god of storms, sometimes glimpsed in dark swirling clouds. Once this water monster threatened to flood the world but he was turned from this evil intention by twin war gods, called Towa’e or Little People, who slew him with their arrows and left his body lying as the rocky barriers of Nambe falls. The diminished flood still pours out of his great mouth and offerings are made to appease him if the stream rises suddenly. In another conception he resides in sacred lakes and moves in storm clouds. Almost certainly the various plumed and horned serpents of the Southwest are a far-off echo of the feathered serpent of the Mayas and Mexicans.
As a rule the name Avanyu is anathema. This short religious song in which he is appealed to comes from the Than kwa share, or Sun-Rain Dance, of Nambe held just before the sun reaches his northern Sun House at the summer solstice. At San Juan foot races are held in connection with the same event.
Avanyu Sendo
Storm Serpent Old Man
Ho’o kä’ä
Now come hither
Mbe nä we ivi yare nde’e
For here we are dancing
Umbi kwâ wogi
Your rain-with
Näwe u powa
Here you arrive!
* * * * *
This piece is entitled Ko’on pinan kha’a ndi a iri—Buffalo Magic Song, Making Come. It is an example of the coercive use of song. The first place name Ko’on tsi pogi is a name for part of the Great Plains, Phi yo pi wi i is a pass near the head of the Pecos River and Yo pha k’ewe is an old town belonging to Tesuque.

Kaya ’a wimba’a Ko’on tsi pogi
Far over yonder Buffalo-Ice-Water-at
Nä piye ho’o ye mä ä imbi ’e wogi
Hither now they-them bringing their children together
A ’nyugi ho’o vi ä â tuye
Quickly now they-with-them walk quickly
Heri ho’o ndi powa Phiyo pin wi’i.
And now they arrive Red Bird Gap
Ko’on sendo, Ko’on kwiyo
Buffalo Old Man, Buffalo Old Woman
A’n yuge ho’o vi kä’ä ve umbi’e wogi
Quickly now ye-with-them come your children together
Nä piye Yo’pha k’ewe owingi umbi ’e wogi
Hither Cactus-row-ridge town-at your children together
Ndin k’on wowatsi wogi
    They-to-us bring life together
Nä we ho’o in powa Te tsuge owinge.
    Here-at now they arrive Tesuque town-at.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cormac McCarthy, from Blood Meridian (1985)

The sergeant turned and motioned for the Mexican. When he rode up he handed him the glass and the Mexican raised it to his eye and squinted. Then he lowered the glass and watched with his naked eyes and then he raised it and looked again. Then he sat his horse with the glass at his chest like a crucifix. 

Well? said the captain.

He shook his head.

What the hell does that mean? They're not buffalo are they?

No. I think maybe horses.

Let me have the glass.

The Mexican handed him the telescope and he glassed the horizon again and collapsed the tube shut with the heel of his hand and replaced it in his bag and raised his hand and they went on. 

They were cattle, mules, horses. There were several thousand head and they were moving quarterwise toward the company. By late afternoon riders were visible to the bare eye, a handful of ragged indians mending the outer flanks of the herd with their nimble ponies. Others in hats, perhaps Mexicans. The sergeant dropped back to where the captain was riding. 

What do you make of that, Captain?

I make it a parcel of heathen stockthieves is what I make it. What do you?

Looks like it to me.

The captain watched through the glass. I suppose they've seen us, he said.

They've seen us. 

How many riders do you make it? 

A dozen maybe. 

The captain  tapped the instrument in his gloved hand. They dont seem concerned, do they? 

No sir. They dont.

The captain smiled grimly. We may see a little sport here before the day is out.

The first of the herd began to swing past them in a pall of yellow dust, rangy slatribbed cattle with horns that grew agoggle and no two alike and small thin mules coalblack that shouldered one another and reared their malletshaped heads above the backs of the others and then more cattle and finally the first of the herders riding up the outer side and keeping the stock between themselves and the mounted company. Behind them came a herd of several hundred ponies. The sergeant looked for Candelario. He kept backing along the ranks but he could not find him. He nudged his horse through the column and moved up the far side. The lattermost of the drovers were now coming through the dust and the captain was gesturing and shouting. The ponies had begun to veer off from the herd and the drovers were beating their way toward this armed company met with on the plain. Already you could see through the dust on the ponies' hides the painted chevrons and the hands and rising suns and birds and fish of every device like the shade of old work through sizing on a canvas and now too you could hear above the pounding of the unshod hooves the piping of the quena, flutes made from human bones, and some among the company had begun to saw back on their mounts and some to mill in confusion when up from the offside of those ponies there rose a fabled horde of mounted lancers and archers bearing shields bedight with bits of broken mirrorglass that cast a thousand unpieced suns against the eyes of their enemies. A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided calvary jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained weddingveil and some in headgear of cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses' ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse's whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen's faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools. 

Oh my god, said the sergeant. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ernst Junger, from Annaherungen: Drogen und Rausch (1970), trans. Gerhard Loose

(On Teonanacatl)
Everything was skin, and it was being touched, the retina too. Touch turned to light. This light was multicolored; it formed strings, gently swaying to and fro like the glass bead strings of an oriental curtain. They formed the kind of door through which one enters in his dreams--curtains of lust and danger. Wind moved through them like a raiment, like the string skirts of a dancer, opening and closing to the swaying of the hips. The beads gave forth murmuring sounds, playing on the sharpened senses. By contrast, the jingling of the silver bracelets and anklets was too loud. A smell obtained, of sweat, blood, tobacco, chopped horse hair, cheap attar of roses. They must be carrying on in the stables, but who knows?

It must be a huge palace, of the Mauritanian kind, a disreputable place no doubt. Rooms adjoined the dance halls, whole suites extending to the basement. And curtains everywhere, glittering sparkling radioactively. Also this murmuring of glass instruments, coquettishly enticing...Now it ceased, now it started up again, more importunately, more insistently--almost certain of my yielding. Then things became distinct: historical collages, vox humana, call of the cuckoo. Was it the Whore of Santa Lucia thrusting out her breasts at the window? ...Salome dancing, her amber necklace emitting sparks, her nipples rising to firmness. What doesn't one do for his John? Damn this obscenity! But it wasn't I who said this; it had been whispered through the curtain. 

The snakes were filthy, lazily lolling on the floor mats, barely alive. They were studded with diamond slivers. Some, eyes red and green, peered from the ceiling. And all this glitter, this whispering, hissing, blinking...Silence, and then it came again, softer but more importunate. They had got me...

The madam came in through the curtain, a busy woman, passing me obliviously. I saw her red-heeled boots. The garters cut deep into the fleshy thighs. Huge breasts, the delta of the Amazon; parrots, piranhas, semiprecious stones everywhere. 

Then she went into the kitchen--or were there cellars too? The glitter, the whispering, the hissing and blinking became indistinguishable, but also more concentrated and, finally, expectant, jubilant. 

It became hot, unbearably so. I got up...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

David Lindsay, from A Voyage to Arcturus

"Who is Earthrid, and why is it called Swaylone's Island?"
"They say Earthrid came from Threal, but I know nothing else about him. As for Swaylone, if you like I will tell you his legend."
"If you please," said Maskull.
"In a far-back age," began Gleameil, "when the seas were hot, and clouds hung heavily over the earth, and life was rich with transformations, Swaylone came to this island, on which men had never before set foot, and began to play his music—the first music in Tormance. Nightly, when the moon shone, people used to gather on this shore behind us, and listen to the faint, sweet strains floating from over the sea. One night, Shaping (whom you call Crystalman) was passing this way in company with Krag. They listened a while to the music, and Shaping said 'Have you heard more beautiful sounds? This is my world and my music.' Krag stamped with his foot, and laughed. 'You must do better than that, if I am to admire it. Let us pass over, and see this bungler at work.' Shaping consented, and they passed over to the island. Swaylone was not able to see their presence. Shaping stood behind him, and breathed thoughts into his soul, so that his music became ten times lovelier, and people listening on that shore went mad with sick delight. 'Can any strains be nobler?' demanded Shaping. Krag grinned and said, 'You are naturally effeminate. Now let me try.' Then he stood behind Swaylone, and shot ugly discords fast into his head. His instrument was so cracked, that never since has it played right. From that time forth Swaylone could utter only distorted music; yet it called to folk more than the other sort. Many men crossed over to the island during his lifetime, to listen to the amazing tones, but none could endure them; all died. After Swaylone's death, another musician took up the tale; and so the light has passed down from torch to torch, till now Earthrid bears it."
"An interesting legend," commented Maskull. "But who is Krag?"
"They say that when the world was born, Krag was born with it—a spirit compounded of those vestiges of Muspel which Shaping did not know how to transform. Thereafter nothing has gone right with the world, for he dogs Shaping's footsteps everywhere, and whatever the latter does, he undoes. To love he joins death; to sex, shame; to intellect, madness; to virtue, cruelty; and to fair exteriors, bloody entrails. These are Krag's actions, so the lovers of the world call him 'devil.' They don't understand, Maskull, that without him the world would lose its beauty."
"Krag and beauty!" exclaimed he, with a cynical smile.
"Even so. That same beauty which you and I are now voyaging to discover. That beauty for whose sake I am renouncing husband, children, and happiness.... Did you imagine beauty to be pleasant?"
"That pleasant beauty is an insipid compound of Shaping. To see beauty in its terrible purity, you must tear away the pleasure from it."
"Do you say I am going to seek beauty, Gleameil? Such an idea is far from my mind."
She did not respond to his remark. After waiting for a few minutes, to hear if she would speak again, he turned his back on her once more. There was no more talk until they reached the island.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Jerome Rothenberg, from The Emergence Notebooks


.......................A season in the mind
.......................of hell, the furthest
.......................opening, a passage
............starting from the eye
............then journeys
............downward, further down meets itself
......................the meeting
is another start,
the passage out

........................: mud, the silt
........................from Euphrates’ banks
........................he saw

........................THE CREATION

This was the silence of the beginning
& spoke

........................APSU (abyss)

A woman without hands
with pierced sex crying

Who dreamed it: was it death
or hunger then: in whose mind
was the water born, whose image?

.......................was its name

& there were colors in it, lines
in all directions, such fine animals
of every kind & faces without end

: chaos with colors with bright eyes


& ATUM grew restless
too but found no woman

bathed in NUN he felt
his member swell, its lips
would open toward him
then he took it in his hand


(These were the notes, the words written in the first phase. I read them over until they blurred, until they were words no longer but music, until the music was music no longer but light, until the light split into small suns & moons & spun around me. What did I see? What could I report to the others? So deeply imbedded as no longer to be a part of me. Light we cannot hold, but goes from us


& filled it with shapes
........................bending around the curve
........................a star breaks
........................two stars
a yellow tree grows toward the opposite light
as song

foliage of morning, water
....................... your body that falls
........................the empty light no longer
........................your body in the morning air
...............................forgive me
........................your body in its latitudes
...............................forgive....forgive me
as the yellow tree was music
grew................that I will know you
........................only for a day
forgive me


where does it start in us?
........................each time I draw breath
........................the pain
........................feels even deeper,
........................signals a loss
that leads beyond my escape to it
the face
detestable face
smiling at me over the black lamp
........................breaks the spell, hope
........................dies again
........................always the procession
........................of the eternal marchers
“willing to stake your life & risk madness
.............................(writes Snyder)
how far already
........................when even the poem
is more than I wanted



....................................for Robert Kelly

............that it takes so long to die

............: my father’s words
............stay with me are heard
as the image
say, or pivot
.......................lingers (Duncan tells us) the melos
all the rest is
.......................although we sing it
.......................(as the garden spinning
to join her body)

............& in perfect health begin,
............hoping to cease not till death

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Santana, Abraxas

C.G. Jung, Sermo III from the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos, trans. H.G. Baynes

Like mists arising from a marsh, the dead came near and cried: Speak further unto us concerning the supreme god.
Hard to know is the deity of Abraxas. Its power is the greatest, because man perceiveth it not. From the sun he draweth the summum bonum;from the devil the infimum malum; but from Abraxas life, altogether indefinite, the mother of good and evil.
Smaller and weaker life seemeth to be than the summum bonum; wherefore is it also hard to conceive that Abraxas transcendeth even the sun in power, who is himself the radiant source of all the force of life.
Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of the void, the belittling and dismembering devil.
The power of Abraxas is twofold; but ye see it not, because for your eyes the warring opposites of this power are extinguished.
What the god-sun speaketh is life.
What the devil speaketh is death.
But Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time.
Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act. Wherefore is Abraxas terrible.
It is splendid as the lion in the instant he striketh down his victim. It is beautiful as a day of spring. It is the great Pan himself and also the small one. It is Priapos.
It is the monster of the under-world, a thousand-armed polyp, coiled knot of winged serpents, frenzy.
It is the hermaphrodite of the earliest beginning.
It is the lord of the toads and frogs, which live in the water and go up on the land, whose chorus ascendeth at noon and at midnight.
It is abundance that seeketh union with emptiness.
It is holy begetting.
It is love and love’s murder.
It is the saint and his betrayer.
It is the brightest light of day and the darkest night of madness.
To look upon it, is blindness.
To know it, is sickness.
To worship it, is death.
To fear it, is wisdom.
To resist it not, is redemption.
God dwelleth behind the sun, the devil behind the night. What god bringeth forth out of the light the devil sucketh into the night. But Abraxas is the world, its becoming and its passing. Upon every gift that cometh from the god-sun the devil layeth his curse.
Everything that ye entreat from the god-sun begetteth a deed of the devil.
Everything that ye create with the god-sun giveth effective power to the devil.
That is terrible Abraxas.
It is the mightiest creature, and in it the creature is afraid of itself.
It is the manifest opposition of creatura to the pleroma and its nothingness.
It is the son’s horror of the mother.
It is the mother’s love for the son.
It is the delight of the earth and the cruelty of the heavens.
Before its countenance man becometh like stone.
Before it there is no question and no reply.
It is the life of creatura.
It is the operation of distinctiveness.
It is the love of man.
It is the speech of man.
It is the appearance and the shadow of man.
It is illusory reality.
Now the dead howled and raged, for they were unperfected.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Alfred Arteaga, Cantos 3-4

Tercero. El viaje

El viaje

White, from white Mictlan, south,
to Xopan, to Tenochtitlan,
"Nosotros descendimos hasta
el río impasible, nosotros de piel
roja, buscando la señal: una isla
en las montañas, en las nubes
claras de águilas, la serpiente
despenñada, el nopal antípoda.
A una isla mixtitlan, a la isla mixtitlan,
dimos el nombre
Isla Xochitepec."
From Aztlán, the word made motion,
tentli, yollotl, yolotia,
to eagle, to snake, to cactus,
each black.
Old man, conquistador,
Bavieca, Tizón and Colada,
father of Coyote, Chamizo,
Sambaigo and Combujo,
father of Lobo, of Barquino,
of Mulato, father of Mestizo.
"From Europe's cold black waters
to Tepeyac, Flower of the Mountain,
where sad children shall kneel
before us. In the name of Our Lady
of the Thorns, we shall baptize a
Juan-Diego Oxomoco, a Marina Nightear,
baptize a María Castellano Cortés,
a Rodrigo Río-Bravo."
And west, dark
women and pearls. "Esplandián!
Plus Ultra, Esplandián!"
Old words made blood,
old words made
Many mothers, a father who
loosed dogs one sad night,
feathers from the quetzal, a
bird who now coos in Spanish.
From the high plateau, from a
gulf town, across desert to one
river, half water, half metal. A
mesh of steel and spray, only
threaded by the mad. Railroads
to the madness, highways to the
cities of the mad, and a boat.
"J'ai rêvé le fleuve m'a laissé
descendre où je voulais." In
my dream, a woman approaches
the fence, she offers mezcal,
there is something
dead in the liquid, we
drink from the common bottle,
our skins are the same
color, in the darkness
agave and mesquite
seem one.
Lone star, bear flag,
Sea to shining ore.
To San Antonio, Santa Fe,
Monterey. To Tijuana or Juarez
Saturday night, border
Chapultepec: young girls
descend, unfurl to drunken
gringos, las heroicas, "Viva
el pinche dólar." Chapultepec,
grasshopper hill: a park
devoted to the pleasure of
marines, devoted to
grasshoppers. Three brown
girls of age stroll by, their color
Long live the land
of plenty.
"If I could fly from this
island of clouds, from this
green island of clouds, from
this green island of orange
men lions, not follow
for long months, like cattle or
breaking sea on reef.
All exiles are kings' sons, after all.
Sad Tara. Leaden sea. Bright heavens."
To Canada, America, Churubusco,
Chapultepec. Flight of John Riley.
Harp of Erin, a Shamrock, a green field.
Was it Col. Bennet Riley or was
it Capt. O'Shay? 16 hanged at
San Angel, April 9, 1847. 4 hanged
at Mixcoac, April 10. 30 hanged
at Chapultepec, grasshopper hill,
where the children heroes took
flight, April 13. The rest: 50 lashes,
an iron collar with 3 prongs, 6
inches, 8 pounds each; a head shaving;
a D branded on the cheek.
From green Tara island to
green Tenochtitlan island,
from Erin to Aztlán,
I remember,
Primero, el poder y la palabra. Napole6n
o el poder del pasado, Juárez o
el poder de la raza. Entre las
dos orillas del poder, un puente:
Carlota, que convierte
la historia de ambos poderes
en teatro. Habla la Hapsburg,
"J'aurais voulu montrer aux
enfants ces dorades, ces serpents
emplumés, cette pyramide. Les
mexicains ont bercé mes détrades,
et d'ineffables ventes m'ont ailée
par instants. Ce pays sauvage,
ce bateau perdu."

* * *

Quarto. Xronotop Xicano

Xronotop Xicano

Aguila negra, rojo chante.
Tinta y pluma.
Textos vivos,
written people: the vato
with la vida loca on his neck,
the vata with p.v., the ganga with
tears, the shining cross. Varrio
walls: codices; storefront
placazos: varrio names,
desafios, people names.
Written cars, names etched
in glass, "Land of a Thousand
Dances." Placas
and love etched in schools.
Faces of Indians branded
by Spaniards.
Faces of Irishmen branded
by Americans.
Gachupín: he who kicks
with the boot.
Yankee: new man, of the
new world, Yancuic.
Xicano: cantador, namer.