sábado, 23 de febrero de 2013

JOHN TRANTER [9.276] Poeta de Australia

John Tranter with his dog Tiger, photo by Susan Gordon-Brown

John Tranter 

(Cooma, Nueva Gales del Sur, Australia, 1943) Poeta, ensayista, crítico antólogo. Ha publicado, entre otros títulos: Parallax, (1970); Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets, (1977); Dazed in the Ladies Lounge, (1979); Selected Poems, (1983); Under Berlin, (1983); The Floor of Heaven, (1983); At The Florida, (1993); Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected, (2006) y Starlight: 150 Poems, (2010).
Tranter, pertenece a la denominada Generación del 68 y es uno de los protagonistas centrales en la actualización de la poesía australiana y de su alejamiento de la tradición poética inglesa y su acercamiento a la norteamericana. Su obra esta marcada por el trauma de la guerra en Vietnam y las influencias del jazz y de los Beats. 
En 1997 fundó la revista Jacket, medio decisivo para la difusión del trabajo de poéticas periféricas en lengua inglesa, la dirigió hasta 2010, año en que la transfirió a la Universidad de Pennsylvania (EEUU). 

Hôtel de Ville 

Los jóvenes en el último año de la secundaria 
deberían visitar un museo histórico, para entender
la vergüenza como una de las formas 
de la victoria de Clinton. Por otra parte,
la deuda externa de la Comunidad Europea 
es causa de pesadillas para todos. Por lo tanto 
tenemos la necesidad de resolver el problema 
de los alumnos que deben leer textos difíciles 
que los guiarán por el camino equivocado: 
¿Por qué Rimbaud abandonó el socialismo por el capitalismo? 
Como si esto tuviera alguna importancia. Él es su propio 
premio consuelo. Estaríamos encantados de tener su uniforme.
También queremos ver todas esas cosas del arte moderno.
Gracias. Oprima el botón con la leyenda “monumento”
y vea qué sucede: una voz grabada repite “he desperdiciado mi vida”
y nosotros pagamos para escuchar.


El viajero allí sentado se encorva sobre la mesa,
su mano juega con el vaso de pálido, agrio líquido.
En un rincón poco iluminado alguien toca una mandolina
y el calor vacila en la entrada.

Puede ver el ómnibus arrastrándose hacia
el desierto. Habiendo llegado a ninguna parte, 
él encuentra una porción de desesperanza como una
pistola acurrucándose en cómodo equilibrio en la mano. 

(versión Esteban Moore)


Your ruin begins here, on the invitation, its 
          nickel-plated manacles; 
remember? you went to gloomy London on a wet Sunday; 
taxi pumped full of gas I'm talking through the tube 

I searched your rooms, your diary, when you were gone, 
          but found nothing 
at dawn a flash of grief in the kitchen 
like a snapshot, the burn damage years later - 

the camera fakes a portrait locked in that domain
          I listen for your words 
in the space between lightning and thunder: 
that gangling vitality I loved now seems robotic 

art operates alongside white racks of illness 
          cash deposits 
notice the gallery owner adjust her taxable assets 
this twinkling is brought on by their medication 

it's due to a scattering of black tablets
          rattling in a tin 
yes I only spent time and money on the telephone call 
so you could feel better, so you would get happier 

a week later I understood her spleen philosophy
          her greenish look 
they can judge that to mean intimacy, or torment 
I'm capable of anything when I'm distressed 

behind the snow-shouldered hills, mountains of 
          cloud heaped up, 
in the gloomy suburb at the foot of Echo Point 
everyone can hear their neighbors lying 

bad liquor bottled and locked in the truck 
          and Dakota Bitter, 
he tilts the seat forward, and finds the weapon 
among the rubbish and shadow on the floor 

these were the plutocrats of the beach afternoon 
          the lamplight recalled 
childhood evenings playing Animal Snap with his 
aunt and uncle, lemon squash, a bottle of gin 

dressed-up and happy as a prize pig and 
          out-staring everything 
I was tainted with the taste of rain
furious people, burnt like meat on a grill 

oh, what's the use of being the top dog in this 
          obscure province 
run off to the big city, get sick in a hailstorm 
waiting for your acolytes in a red fur coat 

under the holiday moon she looked like a pudgy pup, 
          slush on the windscreen 
clanky wipers, the blue cloud, and the furniture 
she was sobbing but she conducted the orchestra 

her Mickey Mouse socks like a shout, an affidavit 
          attacking the drab 
and now the radio speaks from our Sister Cities 
with stories of angels seen haloed though a prism 

lawn-drenching dawn unfolds her sprinklers
          under a tree - 
you have to take a deep breath and drive him there 
to the greenhouse, among the squeaky parakeets 

his confused and malevolent misdirections got 
          everyone lost 
you are your own discipline, a motor in a shell, 
this is a smeared vision of how you see things 

wiping the sheet of acetate and looking through 
          the blurry plastic 
at some old fool wearing stretch briefs instead of 
a nylon swimsuit as the regulations require 

his floppy dick hanging out the slot - where's 
          your dignity? 
you'd turn up to meet him crying, and you should not; 
everything's bronzed like the scales on a baby piranha 

my room writes a terrible blank onto the mirrors 
          dead ring telephone 
four hundred volts in the shower - is that my fate? 
to find myself lost, just as I turn to go home. 

First published in New American Writing 
Copyright © 1997 John E.Tranter

Anyone Home?

I can hear the stop-work whistle
down at the Club, can I go home now?
Then I see Grace Kelly, 
          the young Grace Kelly!
'Starlet Fever', that's what it is. 
I keep hearing the word 'workaholic'. 
Echoing, echoing. The Doc says 
          take a tablet. 
How do you feel down there? Okay?
Take a dive. Bite the bullet. It's 
the jim-jams, I've got the jim-jams. 
I think he said 'phenomenology'. 
I keep hearing jackhammers, it's
the jackhammers, that's what it is. 
Do you know Jacky Rackett?
          Do I know Jacky Rackett?
Lovely type of a feller. Dropped his packet. 
I keep hearing syllables, polysyllables. 
Do I know Sherelle? Young Sherelle?
Then I hear an Appaloosa, getting closer, 
the clip-clop racket in the bracken, then 
a clattering gallop on the gravel, 
          I hear the hullabaloo. 
How d'you do, sir. Jacky Rackett?
Top o'the Paddock, sir, the witch's cat. 
Then I can see Grace Kelly again, 
up close, it's getting warmer. 
Down here in Third Class it's getting warmer. 
Pull the toggle. No, blow the whistle. 
I keep hearing the word 'histrionic'. 
Is that better? Snug in a rug? 
Do you know Gary Langer? Barry Langer? 
They were both practising solicitors. 
I keep hearing polysyllables, 
          then jackhammers. 
Now that's a clavier sonata! 
That's the cat's pyjamas! No, 
it's the Appaloosa! Barry! Gary! 
How are you going, you old bastard! 
I keep hearing these unpredictable
polysyllables, it's like the Name of God. 
Isn't God indelible? Indivisible?
I can see a Californian kitchen, I'm 
visiting Gidget, isn't she cute? 
I can almost reach out and touch her, 
gently. I pour us a Coke and it bubbles. 
Is this Paradise? Is it really Paradise? 
Hey, there's Jack Napier. Jack Napier!
Absolute type of a gentleman. Wouldn't 
hurt you with a barge pole. Jack's 
a jumper. Jack invented the calculus. 
Then I hear a rustling noise, 
          highly magnified. 
I think I snapped the tape 
at the pain threshold, then fell. 
Oh Sherelle, will it ever diminish? 
Will it ever diminish, and fade away? 
Gidget, I'm carrying Gidget, on the beach, 
and I stumble! Bugger it! 
Down at the Club, the Workers' Club, 
the stop-work whistle, should I go home now? 
I keep hearing 'intelligent, 
          very intelligent'. 
Push the toggle-button, the green one, 
the illuminated one, no, not that, 
the other one! You'll feel 
worse at first, considerably worse 
at first, until the medicine. Oh boy, 
some party! Were you there? 
          Was I there? 
I keep hearing 'medical, paramedical'. 
Don't you think it's time to pull the plug? 
Push the button? I can see Paul de Man, 
Paul de Man, is he in Heaven? 
I keep hearing 'shoot, parachute'. 
Okay, what odds would you give me? 
Push the toggle-button, bird-brain. 
This one, or that one? 
Go home, time to go home. 
Quick, put on the Nazi uniform. 
He says 'Quick, Sherelle, do as I say!' 
Why should I? 
          Why should I? 
Who do you think I am? He says - 
famous Chinese proverbs - he says 
'Quick philosopher, dead solicitor!' 
Who do you think I am? Paul de Man? 
I can hear a whistle, an emergency whistle. 
Now I can see the tropical effluent. 
I think it's moving in our direction. 
Dark stain. 
          Dog paddle! Back-pedal! 
That's funny, I can't hear a thing. 
                    Anyone home?

First published in Verse 
Copyright © 1997 John E.Tranter

Dark Harvest

Thunder unrolling over the vulnerable city, 
purple and ink-blue, above the huddle of workers 
scrambling to commute, some to a bar where 
     neon and darkness 

conspire to enfold them, the avenues alive with shoppers. 
And rustling in the wind high above the age of doubt, 
their transparent psyches rain-wet, rent by lightning, 
     spirits and angels 

adrift in the jet-stream know that we have to die, 
each of us heavy with hope but a faint shadow trails 
between what we need and what's accessible, at noon 
     rest and distraction, 

nightmares at midnight. These ministers query 
then relinquish us, but not before this one listens 
for alarms or burns, the sigh of passing time, 
     that one retreating, 

skin all aglitter, for whom the avenue of blooms 
shall never spell 'love'. The drinkers murmur their 
ancestors' games, getting it right without 
     knowing the meaning, 

code deviation: Drink, and drink. For that teacher 
boys were everything, once, holding their breath 
and proving their passion from a few paces away. 
     They can be cocksure, 

crowded illusions, old pals, school buddies, dodging 
into the past you should resurrect, or guess at, 
a dim throng resemblance, who thought of your 
     soul as a plaything - 

where to grow frankly through its enigmas means 
foreign fucks, sad furious travel, this dilemma: 
mud and air, part of the human breath it demands.
     Listen to those guys 

rattle and blather, he said, and you didn't remember
that melancholy, the twilight autumn air, then 
the rumpled nameless force pushing us out 
     towards the horizon? 

Garrulous history tells us that greed and ambition 
stir the struggle to make great art, but then 
the riders gallop up with their strange truth, 
     troublesome, painful. 

Secretive rumours hang about, floating over the turf 
like a low mist, the way you pitched your gay smiles, 
not meaning anything, but who spilt our secrets? 
     Blabbing and telling! 

Told them the story, but we spoke outline English, 
nothing solid, our filthy lies melting into the air. 
Buy a memory or two at the pool, who cares if it's 
     a little dishonest?

Too bad you only smile to rake back a smile 
to crush a truth, or in an instant forgive, 
each time shadows falling across the yard 
     laid out in plots that 

seem to be speaking, making a pattern, and 
like the wind sneaking past, it's what we're 
losing that tugs the brain, leaking out; we 
     kiss and a heartache 

ruins our childhood. Yet - no, though 
their cruel trade troubles us, the hot boys 
grow, grunt and turn in that awful flux, 
     girls become women, 

summers diminish, the snapshots fade, also the 
pesky details and the hot bothers that seem to be 
all we can recollect of that holiday, that was 
     more like a combat. 

And I remember the neon glow on her lipstick - 
click! - her perfume, its melancholy ambience - 
these fragments constrain memory into grief, our 
     mortal lot sliding, 

crushing together those dirty complex diversions. 
We each knew awkward love, that frail-leafed orchid, 
and on her lap a heap of those diurnal notes. 
     Baffled and restless, 

breezes at sunset bring us groans and whispers; 
now the tide is full that will carry us off, 
afloat on that glassy flood, the sky stooping to 
     touch us with incense. 

This is a painting, of a catastrophe cranked up to 
the higher range: look at it, sweetheart, you dazzle, 
spell benumb my mouth, pink heart-beats
     always retreating, 

asking for lightness, an enigmatic spice of hope, 
but always at my back I hear a brutal rumbling, 
the bursting roar of my own donut-fleshed heart. 
     A trace of my accent 

colours your laughter, a linguistic infection. Upstream 
the marriage blueprint's spoiled, and here on the porch 
I'm holding you lightly in a dance embrace, watched by 
     celestial tourists 

drifting above our foreigner-inflected summer. 
My life is just an escapade, not a tragedy, so 
thank the energy of the fiery hour, thank that 
     loose-lipped emotion, 

a crisis that lets a new sentiment shape develop. 
And our doting neighbours give us what you see, 
unwelcome presents, and it's not even an occasion. 
     Endless revision, 

erasing the discord: there they are, portrayed naked: 
two lovers aware of the hourglass - figured space 
between us - and the futures they build there, 
     reading a novel 

one to the other, pulse to pulse signalling 
sex, fear and betrayal, culture rearranged 
and magically loosened and tightened again, 
     deep disappointment, 

appalling encounters, garlands strewn far inland, 
haystacks aflame in brilliant streaks in the valleys, 
and on that sombre green beside the pond 
     spirits descending, 

calmly alighting in the gloom under the trees. 
Here the painter has depicted the world's end, two 
plausible powers, the red and the black, demons and 
     hard-hearted men sunk 

deep in their silent employment - is it for you? And 
for you this dismal project, this politics? And yet 
the boys still dive and plunge among the foam, 
     talking with kisses, 

lips intermingled, and rest on your jealous breast.
See, the ancestors lie down before that portrait 
and the movie palaces of your youthful solitude 
     now lie deserted. 

Rising to meet us, the ebony hand of night. 
Here, a stain of moonlight. There, rippling noises, 
love swept gasping through it. Disguises, 
     painting on linen, 

it's a delusion and a false fabric, a sweet elocution 
with as little meaning as a blackbird's batty chatter, 
the theatre of the mundane drafted onto a backdrop, 
     perfect disorder 

forming a pattern where the totally random must be given 
a motive and a meaning, sketched across the foreground 
near his head. So the artist figures things to come, a 
     singular discourse. 

Longing for meaning can be fixed. First it's a problem, 
then it's the cure; but we are dispersed into a rigmarole, 
into the telling fishhook of a style, and so he 
     fluctuates fiercely, 

releasing his insights like ink dropped into water. 
The audience shivers, watching everything they knew 
fracture, their future a lifeless illusion, 
     colours dispersing 

slowly at first, then faster: their career path diagrams 
riddled by lightning. I'm nursing a drink at twilight, 
looking up at the thunderheads lit from below: 
     everything's blowing 

into the future that waits for us but doesn't want us, 
nor the children, who await their change of faith, 
or so I guess, staring down on the late avenues 
     crowded with feelings. 

First published in the Paris Review 
Copyright © 1997 John E.Tranter

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