Archive for June, 2008

When the world is strange around me, it is because i am pursing my lips.

The mind can unlearn its tricks, the silver swath, the white shoots that swish out to their same garbage cans. These masteries can be unmastered.

But tonight there is something on top of me, something I can’t get rid of. The strangeness that follows me out to where I am going. These people in my facebook, they have maintained their friendships, I have not. I have one thing to remember, and it is constantly forgotten. I have no hands for holding.

But my heart aches tonight for old faces that i believe stare blankly at me. You can tell when someone has a warm memory of you, and when they don’t.

-Nina Alvarez


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In honor of my new friend, Jorge Porcel De Peralta, who loves Auden and the Argentinians who love Freud:

In Memory of Sigmund Freud

When there are so many we shall have to mourn,

when grief has been made so public, and exposed

to the critique of a whole epoch

the frailty of our conscience and anguish,

of whom shall we speak? For every day they die

among us, those who were doing us some good,

who knew it was never enough but

hoped to improve a little by living.

Such was this doctor: still at eighty he wished

to think of our life from whose unruliness

so many plausible young futures

with threats or flattery ask obedience,

but his wish was denied him: he closed his eyes

upon that last picture, common to us all,

of problems like relatives gathered

puzzled and jealous about our dying.

For about him till the very end were still

those he had studied, the fauna of the night,

and shades that still waited to enter

the bright circle of his recognition

turned elsewhere with their disappointment as he

was taken away from his life interest

to go back to the earth in London,

an important Jew who died in exile.

Only Hate was happy, hoping to augment

his practice now, and his dingy clientele

who think they can be cured by killing

and covering the garden with ashes.

They are still alive, but in a world he changed

simply by looking back with no false regrets;

all he did was to remember

like the old and be honest like children.

He wasn’t clever at all: he merely told

the unhappy Present to recite the Past

like a poetry lesson till sooner

or later it faltered at the line where

long ago the accusations had begun,

and suddenly knew by whom it had been judged,

how rich life had been and how silly,

and was life-forgiven and more humble,

able to approach the Future as a friend

without a wardrobe of excuses, without

a set mask of rectitude or an

embarrassing over-familiar gesture.

No wonder the ancient cultures of conceit

in his technique of unsettlement foresaw

the fall of princes, the collapse of

their lucrative patterns of frustration:

if he succeeded, why, the Generalised Life

would become impossible, the monolith

of State be broken and prevented

the co-operation of avengers.

Of course they called on God, but he went his way

down among the lost people like Dante, down

to the stinking fosse where the injured

lead the ugly life of the rejected,

and showed us what evil is, not, as we thought,

deeds that must be punished, but our lack of faith,

our dishonest mood of denial,

the concupiscence of the oppressor.

If some traces of the autocratic pose,

the paternal strictness he distrusted, still

clung to his utterance and features,

it was a protective coloration

for one who’d lived among enemies so long:

if often he was wrong and, at times, absurd,

to us he is no more a person

now but a whole climate of opinion

under whom we conduct our different lives:

Like weather he can only hinder or help,

the proud can still be proud but find it

a little harder, the tyrant tries to

make do with him but doesn’t care for him much:

he quietly surrounds all our habits of growth

and extends, till the tired in even

the remotest miserable duchy

have felt the change in their bones and are cheered

till the child, unlucky in his little State,

some hearth where freedom is excluded,

a hive whose honey is fear and worry,

feels calmer now and somehow assured of escape,

while, as they lie in the grass of our neglect,

so many long-forgotten objects

revealed by his undiscouraged shining

are returned to us and made precious again;

games we had thought we must drop as we grew up,

little noises we dared not laugh at,

faces we made when no one was looking.

But he wishes us more than this. To be free

is often to be lonely. He would unite

the unequal moieties fractured

by our own well-meaning sense of justice,

would restore to the larger the wit and will

the smaller possesses but can only use

for arid disputes, would give back to

the son the mother’s richness of feeling:

but he would have us remember most of all

to be enthusiastic over the night,

not only for the sense of wonder

it alone has to offer, but also

because it needs our love. With large sad eyes

its delectable creatures look up and beg

us dumbly to ask them to follow:

they are exiles who long for the future

that lives in our power, they too would rejoice

if allowed to serve enlightenment like him,

even to bear our cry of ‘Judas’,

as he did and all must bear who serve it.

One rational voice is dumb. Over his grave

the household of Impulse mourns one dearly loved:

sad is Eros, builder of cities,

and weeping anarchic Aphrodite.

-W.H. Auden

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Estoy en la Argentina. En honor de eso, aquí está un poema de Luis Borges. Aprenda más sobre Borges aquí.

I am in Argentina. In honor of this, here is a poem by Luis Borges. Learn more about Borges  and the web here. And learn about Borges and Buenos Aires here.

We are the time. We are the famous 
We are the time. We are the famous
metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.

We are the water, not the hard diamond,
the one that is lost, not the one that stands still.

We are the river and we are that greek
that looks himself into the river. His reflection
changes into the waters of the changing mirror,
into the crystal that changes like the fire.

We are the vain predetermined river,
in his travel to his sea.

The shadows have surrounded him.
Everything said goodbye to us, everything goes away.

Memory does not stamp his own coin.

However, there is something that stays
however, there is something that bemoans.

by Jorge Luis Borges

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ONCE a boy a Rosebud spied,

Heathrose fair and tender,
All array’d in youthful pride,–
Quickly to the spot he hied,

Ravished by her splendour.
Rosebud, rosebud, rosebud red,

Heathrose fair and tender!

Said the boy, “I’ll now pick thee,

Heathrose fair and tender!”
Said the rosebud, “I’ll prick thee,
So that thou’lt remember me,

Ne’er will I surrender!”
Rosebud, rosebud, rosebud red,

Heathrose fair and tender!

Now the cruel boy must pick

Heathrose fair and tender;
Rosebud did her best to prick,–
Vain ’twas ‘gainst her fate to kick–

She must needs surrender.
Rosebud, rosebud, rosebud red,

Heathrose fair and tender!


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Jil Hanifan

pressing down her lead piling will

over our freshman bodies, oh the

sophomores were

more with it. One was a black poet

and I

read a poem Jil loved

and i held it close to me, strictly, because

her eye was a Sauron eye and I basked in it

like a heat lamp

and in this poem

was the word ‘argentine’

Now, I couldn’t have told you then

why that word turned me off

it was probably pure racism, the kind that lies

in the floorboards. I didn’t want this

poem to be about some other country.

I wanted it to be about me.

And the next day, when I learned the word meant

“silver,” I felt it could be.

Now, at 30 years old, I am flying to Argentina in four days.

It is strange how our unformed perceptions can collapse upon themselves

until we mistake one word for a whole country,

and so enter them both together.

-Nina Alvarez

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