Thursday, December 30, 2010

Poem by Elsa Morante

Minna the Siamese
I’ve got a little animal, a cat: her name is Minna.
Whatever I put in a plate, she eats,
and whatever I put in a bowl, she drinks.
Crouching she comes to me, watches me, then sleeps,
so soundly I forget she’s there. But if, then,
grateful, I call her name, in sleep an ear
trembles: her name casts a shadow over her sleep.
To give joy and grace, she has a little guitar;
if I scratch her little head or neck, she sweetly plays.
If I think of the centuries and all that divides us,
I’m afraid. Afraid for me: she knows nothing of this.
But if I see her playing with a string, if I gaze
at her pale blue irises, happiness is mine again.
On holidays, when everyone is merry,
I feel sad for her, that she doesn’t discern between the days.
So that she too will celebrate, for lunch I give her a little fish;
the motive she can’t understand: but joyous, she eats.
Heaven, for love of her, gave her nails and teeth:
but she, so gentle, only uses them in play.
I am taken by sadness at the thought that, even if I were to take her life,
I’d have no trial, no fires of hell, no prison.
She gives me so many kisses that to be kind to her I flatter myself,
but I know that another mistress, or me, to her it makes no difference.
She follows me, so I believe I am everything to her,
but I know my death could not touch her...
Translated by Nick Benson from the Italian of Elsa Morante (1912-1985), Alibi. Longanesi, 1958; Garzanti, 1988.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poem by John Alter

The angels in heaven
those who wear pearls and
vintage blazers gossip in Latin and know that when you add the suffix
to a word it means full of when they heard
the good news of your arrival
it is reported exclaimed one to the other

good gracious
have mercy

The angels in heaven
those who love to walk
from one end to the other of their home town
& carry
in celestial bags all that a good day requires
when they heard the good news of your arrival

good gracious
have mercy

For us who remain here
with our forlorn dictionaries
with the streets of our home town that seem
less inhabited
who are clearly not angels
what remains to some measure is what
you taught us

love’s etymology
how by adding the prefix com-
to the word passion
you discover a compassionate universe
how by replacing the prefix con-
with trans- you discover
love’s transformative power

O our need remains also
for those angels who insist on wearing
even when the only task at hand is to
rake the fallen leaves who know what it means to
vir bonum semper discipilus est

--for Margaret Addicks

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Letter by Manolo Gonzalez

My Beloved Editor, Ms. Wintour:

As we both know, my glorious 300-page novel is due in about eleven hours. Well, there is just one tiny problem with making that deadline. Now, now, before you fret and gird your loins, let me assure you that the novel, aptly titled Untitled (very avant-garde, don’t you think?) is completely and one-hundred percent finished, and written in its entirety, from beginning to end. It has been proof read, water proofed, edited, illustrated and even indexed by yours truly, and I do most certainly believed that you will find it most adequate for publication. In fact, it was even dedicated to you by yours-truly:
To a never ending Wintour.”

At first I thought it was too kitsch, but a little sparkle goes a long way, don’t you think?

Anyways, as you most certainly are aware I spent the last year in seclusion, writing this opus of mine in an extremely secluded location, Cancun, Mexico. There I would write day and night ferociously, with absolutely no human contact or distractions. At all. Ever. But of course, when decided on by pure necessity, I had to venture outside and chat with the locals while I gathered up my living essentials. The natives of Cancun, of course, speak Spanish. I, myself, being from Colombia and having Spanish as my mother tongue, I only spoke and thought in Spanish without even thinking twice about it.

In here lies the problem; because I was speaking in Spanish, listening to Spanish, thinking and living in Spanish, I was writing in Spanish. Unbeknownst to me, I wrote the entire novel in Spanish. Everything is completely in Spanish, thus being completely useless to your current needs.

Unfortunately, I will require another full year to properly and coherently translate my book, Untitled, into standard American English. This is a most regrettable set back, but I can guarantee you that I am doing everything in my power to make sure that the novel is translated in as little time as possible. To guarantee that it is done quickly and as efficiently as possible, and in English this time, I have secluded myself in the quietest American city imaginable, New Orleans, Louisiana. As I write I am currently locked up in my flat above the quaint Bourbon Street, in the incredibly charming French Quarter. In fact, it has proven to be such a perfect place to write, that I have already translated one full page of the novel. This page is, of course, available at your disposal at any time you so desire. And now, I must return to my translations.


I. C. Buttz

P.S. Since in essence I am actually writing two separate novels, one in Spanish, and one in English, I am going to require double payment. Cash is preferable, due to the scarcity of banks in isolated New Orleans. Cheers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

News Item by Manolo Gonzalez

Valentino De La Mancha, 18, was killed yesterday in a series of the most unfortunate events. At approximately 2am he was driving his black Mercedes-Benz down Santa Monica Boulevard, with passengers Kleo Viterelli and Neguisa Bostani, when they struck a speeding, red SmartCar as they made a left turn on the intersection of Santa Monica and Beverly Glen. No one in the Mercedes or the Smartcar was injured but the SmartCar was completely destroyed. The driver of the red SmartCar escaped with cuts and bruises, and literally, we mean ‘escape.’ It turns out the driver of the SmartCar, an unidentified red-headed man, had stolen the car from the parking lot of Kisses–n-Hugs Children’s restaurant, located on Wilshire Boulevard and Barrington. With the police already chasing him, he made a run for it after the collision, and was finally apprehended hours later hiding behind an empty Blockbuster, a place where ‘no one would go and find him’.

When the police arrived on the scene, merely seconds after the crash and after the unidentified man escaped, they discovered that De La Mancha, as well as his passengers, were all completely naked inside the vehicle.

“They said they were Canadian,” explained Officer Guadalajara, who was at the scene. “There ain’t no law against driving while on the naked in Cali, so we just lettem go, esay.

Left a little but shaken and confused, De La Mancha and passengers continued on their way, where according to reports, they stopped at a 76 Gas Station, Ralph’s Supermarket, and at Chi Chi LaRue’s on Little Santa Monica Boulevard before continuing their trip, heading towards Malibu.

“Our plan was just to have a picnic outside of Cher’s house,” said Bostani, 18, who survived the ordeal, along with Viterelli.

“We tried to figure out an outfit that would be something akin to what Cher would wear, but when we couldn’t come up with anything fabulous enough we just decided to go there nude,” finished Viterelli.

Once at Cher’s house, located in the northern stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, about 20 second from Pepperdine University, tragedy struck the group.

“At Ralph’s Supermarket we bought those fancy little Ferrero Rocher chocolates, because they’re delicious and we thought that they would be something Cher would eat, because they’re delicious,” said Bostani, “but then Valentino tried to eat two at once and he began to choke. Everyone knows that the correct way to eat a Ferrero Rocher is to eat one layer by layer.”

De La Mancha continued choking on the two chocolate balls in his mouth, with his two friends unable to, or unwilling to, help.

“He eats like that all the time,” said Viterelli, “we thought he was used to having two balls in mouth by now.”

Without the help of his two friends, De La Mancha continued choking, making very loud whopping noises bent over the car. In fact, his choking noises became so loud that at approximately 4am, Cher herself came out from her house to see what was happening outside.

“Those two huge, fabulously gothic yet, a tad Venetian gates opened up, and we knew that it was Cher, we just knew. When we saw it was her, we were awestruck. Actually, you could say we were Moonstruck. But Valentino, he was still choking and didn’t hear her walk out because of all the noise he was making,” said Bostani. “But once he did see her, still choking, and naked, he got completely surprised. Too surprised, I would say.”

After the appearance of Cher, De La Mancha was so surprised that even with two chocolate balls in his throat, he swallowed, and thus, ceased to be choking.

“That was all good, but then in his shock and amazement, he didn’t see where he was stepping and he got run over by a speeding black Prius. It was dark, and the car makes no noise; it was impossible to know it was there.”

The driver of the Black Prius, while still at large, has been described as a tall, red haired man, seen by a witness around a Blockbuster parking lot earlier that night. There are currently no leads on the hit and run driver.

“It really sucks, but at least we got our picture with Cher,” said Bostani.

“She’s fabulous,” said Viterelli.

Valentino De La Mancha died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center earlier this morning from the injuries related to the accident at 6am.

“A large shard of glass sliced his leg open in one clean cut. This would have been easily prevented if he were wearing jeans,” said Dr. Rhuman, treating surgeon at Cedars Sinai.

De La Mancha is survived by two illegitimate children, Amadeus, 2, and Rigoberta, 1, birthed by two different mothers. He was a beloved student and classmate, known for his big heart in supplying alcohol to the teachers and sharing with the class. He will be best known for his generosity in supplying illicit substances to his friends and colleagues.

“His motto always was Chering is Caring,” said his 11th grade teacher, Ms. Cox, with tears in her eyes.

He will surely be missed.

Memorial services are scheduled for this Monday at 8pm, unless a new episode of Gossip Girl is on, in which case it would be postponed until Thursday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Poem by Cola Hines

Against Description
Well I’d say in general there is too much in here
and when you open it up, it all falls out —
so why invite us anyway? To help clean up this mess,
or be impressed —
but anyone saturated with stuff and nonsense would agree
a breath of fresh air is far more useful
you carry the antidote around
in a pocket 
amid the clutter this does not connect yet another
thing that shrieks unbidden —
the last refuge of content a high shelf above the door; watch out when you reach up
your smile is an airport and I travel far; but in the pleasant and cobbled streets 
of Viscera I meet Migraine —
she has sexy legs and a face you can’t imagine. End of story