pitahaya :: craig arnold

Teach me a fruit of  your
country I asked and so you dipped
into a shop and in your hand
held me a thick yellow pinecone

no knife between us
you put it to your teeth
sideways like a bird and bit
and peeled away the fleshy
scales or were they petals

crisp white at the core
peppered with black seeds
sweet and light like a cold cloud
like some exotic sherbet carried
hand over hand from a mountaintop
by a relay of runners straightway
to the Inca’s high table

we sat on metal chairs
still pebbled with rain the seat
of my pants damp we passed it
back and forth no matter how
carefully we could not help

spilling the juice making
our cheeks sticky our fingers
getting sticky our fingers no
not even once touching

repartidor de carbón :: ramón cote baraibar

Repartidor de carbón

Como encontrar una barra de aluminio atravesada en la mandíbula de un buey. Como descubrir una breve cabeza de obsidiana en un arcón. Como mirar por una cerradura y ver un amanecer no merecido. Tan imposible como todo esto, tan melancólico y solitario a la vez, era ver aquel camión verde que con la puntualidad de un sacramento repartía cada mes el carbón. En la cuesta su esforzado corazón se anunciaba vociferante, moribundo, y se detenía al frente de la casa como si entregara agónico la noticia de la caída de la ciudad de Troya. Después un hombre, envuelto en costales, arrojaba su carga resonante y angulosa en un baúl pintado de naranja.

Como abrir una biblia y encontrar tres hojas de laurel. Como levantar una piedra y recordar un nombre. Como reconocer al mismo caracol a cien kilómetros de distancia. Tan imposible como todo esto, tan melancólico y solitario a la vez, resulta encontrar quince años más tarde al mismo repartidor del carbón realizando su oficio, doblado por el esfuerzo, empeñado en demostrarle al cielo que un hombre ha hecho ese trabajo durante toda su vida, que escarbó entre las minas, que le robó el hilo a su mujer para coser sus costales, que soñó con excavaciones infinitas, con túneles, y que lo perdonen por no haber hecho nada más que eso.

Botella papel (1998)

Coal deliveryman

Like finding a bar of aluminum wedged in a bull’s jaw. Like discovering in a sea chest a short obsidian head. Like looking through a padlock and seeing an undeserved dawn. As impossible as all these, as melancholy and lonely, was it to see the green truck that with the punctuality of a sacrament delivered the coal each month. On the slope its strained heart would announce itself vociferously, at the brink of death, and it would stop in front of the house as if to deliver the agonizing news of the fall of Troy. And then a man, wrapped in sacking, would pitch his cargo, resonant and angular, into an orange-painted crate.

Like opening a Bible and finding three leaves of laurel. Like lifting a stone and remembering someone’s name. Like finding the same snail again a hundred miles away. As impossible as all these, as melancholy and lonely, would it be to find, fifteen years later, the same coal deliveryman carrying on his trade, bent from the strain, determined to show the heavens that a man might do that job his entire life, that he scraped in the mines, that he stole thread from his wife to sew his sacking, that he dreamed of infinite excavations, of tunnels, and that they might forgive him for not having done more than that.

Translated from the Spanish by Craig Arnold

Poetry (April 2009)

uncouplings :: craig arnold

There is no I in teamwork
but there is a two maker

there is no I in together
but there is a got three
a get to her

the I in relationship
is the heart I slip on
a lithe prison

in all communication
we count on a mimic
(I am not uncomic)

our listening skills
are silent killings

there is no we in marriage
but a grim area

there is an I in family
also my fail

hermit crab :: craig arnold

A drifter, or a permanent house-guest
he scrabbles through the stones, and can even scale
the flaked palm-bark, towing along his latest
lodging, a cast-off periwinkle shell.
Isn’t he weighed down? Does his house not pinch?
The sea urchin, a distant relative,
must haul his spiny armor each slow inch
by tooth only–sometimes, it’s best to live
nowhere, and yet be anywhere at home.

That’s the riddle of his weird housekeeping
–does he remember how he wears each welcome
out in its turn, and turns himself out creeping
unbodied through the sand, grinding and rude,
and does he feel a kind of gratitude?

Craig Arnold is currently missing in Japan