Luis Alberto Arellano / Two Poems

BLACKWATER

That’s why I ask
if you know how to decipher dreams.
I await your quick, kind, affirmative response.
Or is it that dreams,
that cranial activity which takes place during REM and cleans us pore by pore,
as I was saying, all dreams are bound
to end up in an ceaseless stream of nothingness.
Forgetting comes in folds.
That’s why I ask.
It all started like any other Sunday, the bombs had fallen: no internet, no governments, only tribes and cunning. The type of town you’d like to learn your way around.
There came one
named for an apostle
and he asked me to go with him to see a guy who sold medicines.
That is to say, before the bombs and the power out he ran a drug store and he has under his custody (perpetual guns and fire)
large potions that bring relief
to the subtle membranes of the body.
I’ve always said that cutaneous matter is like a velvet case.
Inside you will find imitation jewelry that some gobble now for lack of goat.
Him, the biblical one, had a car that still worked.
In the trunk he kept a zombie that tried to bite me.
He had him stashed there because the zombie could sniff
out gas for the car.
Like a dowsing rod zombie, but for refined hydrocarbons.
We got to the other place, the one with the narcotics, and the kids played with mountain goats, clearly radioactive, their fur reached down to their hooves and their horns crossed their foreheads in a very glamorous X. Very Alpha Centauri. What did you say
it’s called: glossolalia, oracle or schizophrenia.
Oligophrenic they called me when I walked down the street.
The ones with the medicine, a couple, wanted the dowsing zombie in exchange.
We left him, they ate him.
Simple as that, the market, when there are no laws.
They tried to sell me one of those street kids.
But you know I already have kids, one.
Who needs another plot twist,
who needs that because I say so rhetoric.
Then the kids started to play a game they liked a lot.
They took a goat, the oldest,
broke its legs with an iron rod
and goaded the animal into charging them.
Between moans of pain and fury the goat tried to butt them
but to the kids its butts were feeble shoves.
What do you think it means.
It surely means something.
Like earthquakes, which mean a settling of tectonic plates. A release of energy. Points for the planet.
Like UFOs which mean WE NEVER WERE ALONE.
Like dried up trees which mean exile.
We are a cycle of horses sweeping the steppe without knowing much of its limits.
This is why the stars stay mute, because they don’t know how to speak like us.

*

I know you haven’t answered.
You have your reasons: horror, forgetting or ignorance.
It’s all valid now that life floats
as if in layers amongst the corpses’ fumes.
I don’t often dream.
That’s why I ask myself what they might mean.
The Egyptians took it seriously.
The pharaoh dreamt of plague and wham!
locusts dropped by to turn day into night.
The Greeks weren’t far behind.
They also had to interpret dreams.
Moreover, there was a trick.
Sleepers could communicate with the dead.
Asclepius founded a healing practice
based on dreaming.
It was straightforward.
You came, as best you could, to one of his temples,
that night you slept on the floor
and the witch-doctor god visited you,
in dreams auscultated and wrote you a prescription.
At dawn you would proceed to pay the rent for that single night. In other words dreaming was a two way street.
But we can´t even come close to Moctezuma, who dreamt his downfall. Because we’ve lost that oneiric clarity.
We dream in foreign languages,
with foreign vices.
Normal, in this our decadence.
But for sure you know what they mean.
You’ve studied them.
You surely can recognize their contours.
I’m bothering you with this certainty.
Another dream came.
Two days after the first.
I was guarding the flank of a military fort.
We were armed and trained.
And there came a grenade to blow up the doorway in which I leaned. I lost an eye, my jawbone dangled.
I didn’t feel pain, but pressure on my eye.
Like when you have a weak eye: Amblyopia.
Lazy eye syndrome.
Part of this lurks in my daily diopters.
And I talked and I talked with people,
I asked for instructions, I received and transmitted orders,
but no one dared to tell me that it was all a guttural sound and that my jaw dangled down to the left,
joined to the skull by the tendon,
but that the right side had fallen off
and that it was and wasn’t there.
No one pointed out to me that I wasn’t speaking anymore,
but instead moaning all mammal-like,
but all oral communication had passed on without leaving much of a trace.
In the dream there appeared the same person with the biblical name
and grimacing he attached my jaw
to the right side of my skull, but it wouldn’t fit.
The sounds were worse in their definition.
I did the only thing that made sense at the time and I tugged on the left side
so as to rip it all off.
What do you think this means.
The radioactive goats and the disjected jawbone might be connected.
I send you my regards.
I hope your family soon find solace.
All of our thoughts here are with you and your loved ones at this time.
I await your quick, kind, affirmative response.

WHAT A MAN SHOULD SHOUT BEFORE HE JUMPS INTO THE VOID

Mayakovsky recalls his childhood:
he walks through the forest;
his father, the forester, is his guide.
Fog. The limits, confused,
Vladimir stumbles.
The dew, his father and the mist, all one,
they hold him by the hand; they advance.
His father knocks his arm against a branch.
Rose hip.
It goes for Vlady’s face,
its tips prick his rosy cheek.
All the Russians in the fog,
the age,
have rosy cheeks.
Without a word, he draws out the wooden barbs. He bleeds.
Vladimir was born in Georgia,
he lived in Bagdati.
A two-story building during his early childhood.
Bottom floor they made wine.
The mujiks came,
that’s what Russians called the fog (bleeding, the rosy cheek),
the peasants as well,
in contrast with the proletariat, which they called Tovarich,
mujiks came pulling carts full of grapes.
They trod the grapes.
Vladimir ate them, pressed.
He drank them.
Vladimir remembers, the fog,
the smell of must fermented at leisure,
the glass vases covered with hay.
Vladimir learned his letters with his mother.
Mother taught what a Russian should know.
Bleeding cheeks because world that surrounded him.
Vladimir learnt without emotion.
Mayakovsky hated arithmetics.
Why add up if all you add are pears, apples.
The pears and apples were big and fragrant.
They were asked for and given without formalities.
They grew on trees in the backyard.
Add and subtract, a waste of time.
Vladimir memorized poems of forests, wild creatures: Russian soul.
His father asked him, before dying, to read poems on feast days.
Father, mujik, proud of child/parrot.
Tears.
Not Vladimir.

(Translated by Eduardo Padilla)