lunes, 10 de octubre de 2016


Clarence Mayor

Clarence Major, poeta, novelista y pintor, nació en 1936 en Atlanta, Georgia, EE.UU.. Recibió una licenciatura de la Universidad Estatal de Nueva York y un Ph.D. de Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities.

Sus libros de poesía incluyen Configuraciones: 

Configurations: New & Selected Poems, 1958-1998 (1999); Parking Lots (1992); Some Observations of a Stranger at Zuni in the Latter Part of the Century (1998); Surfaces and Masks (1987); Inside Diameter: The France Poems (1985); Symptoms and Madness (1971); Swallow the Lake (1970); and Fires That Burn in Heaven (1954).

Es autor de más de ocho novelas incluyendo Dirty Bird Blues: A Novel (1996); Painted Turtle: Woman with Guitar (1988); Fun and Games (1988); Such Was the Season (1987); Emergency Exit (1979), and Reflex and Bone Structure (1975).

Ofertas recientes en prosa incluyen Viajes:  A Memoir (2001) and Afterthought: Essays and Criticism (2000). he is also the editor of many anthologies and books such as The Garden Thrives: Twentieth-Century African American Poetry (1995); Dictionary of Afro-American Slang (1994); and The Dark and Feeling: Black American Writers and Their Work. 

Entre sus muchos honores y premios: Fulbright Fellowship, and a National Council on the Arts Fellowship. Clarence Major is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of California, Davis.

Translator: Alexander Best

Sobre la contemplación de una oruga que se transforma en una mariposa

Es un proceso lente, muy lente,
mientras me siento aquí en el porche,

simplemente mirando un macho patoso de
las orugas del algodoncillo

lentamente transformándose
en una mariposa graciosa

mientras colgando del fondo de
una hoja marchita que está oscura con la vida
entre un racimo acre de
otras hojas intensas.

De esta vieja rama
que se inclina sobre mi pasamano,
la oruga está pensando
– en este momento particular de su desarrollo natural –
que puede decidir cual manera quiere escoger: volar o morir.

Y hacer eso por prestar juramento y por soñar de
poseer el atractivo de la mariposa “cuervo”
o las franjas de la mariposa “tigre”.
O quizás quedar en la etapa crisálida
o convertirse en una mariposa “fraile”.

La oruga es un visionario
y un intrigante nato
– en esta luz cambiante donde
gotas con forma de cutícula
brilla y brilla como néctar rojo.

Se altera
mientras cuelga del fondo de
esta hoja verde. Está calzado firmemente,
casi como atrancado con resortes metálicos;
y lanzando esa luz
– una luz plateada y purpurina,
y delineado en oro
– adornos dorados.

On Watching a Caterpillar Become a Butterfly

It’s a slow, slow process
sitting here on the porch

just watching a clumsy male
milkweed caterpillar

slowly turning itself
into a graceful butterfly while

hanging from the underside
of a withered leaf dark with life

among a pungent cluster
of other rich leaves

from this old branch
leaning over my banister

at a certain point
in its natural growth

probably caterpillar thinks it can
decide which way

it wants to go – to fly or die,
by simply taking an oath and dreaming

of having the loveliness
of, say, the male crow butterfly

or having the stripes
of the tiger butterfly

or maybe stay in the chrysalis stage
or become a friar butterfly

caterpillar is a dreamer
and a natural schemer

in this changing light where
cuticle-shaped drops of fluid

glow and glow
like red nectar

changing itself
as it hangs from the bottom

of this green leaf
wedged tightly

as though bolted
with metal springs,

throwing off that light,
a light of silver-purple

outlined in gold –
golden trimmings.

No One Goes to Paris in August 

A Montparnasse August 
with view of the Cimetière. A yard of bones. 

We wake to it. Close curtains to it. 
Wake to its lanes. Rows of coffin-stones in varying light. 

Walking here. Late with shade low, low, long. 
We’re passing through, just passing through 
neat aisles of gray mausoleums. 

(From Paris. Send this postcard. This one. 
Calm water lilies. Water lilies. 
Nothing colorless.) 

It’s morning. Baudelaire’s tomb. 
Tree limbs casting shadow west. 

This, a lot of time under a looming sky. 
Nobody has time like this. 
(Time to go to Le Mandarin for coffee 
every day. We’re not complaining. 
They bring the milk separate. 
Watch the passersby on Saint-Germain.) 

Nothing to ponder. This is the plight. 
Pause by Pigeon in bed with his wife — 
both fully dressed. 

Pink flowers, pink flowers, 
just beneath de Beauvoir’s name. 
When she lived she lived two doors down. 
Went south in August. 

All of us smell of heat all the time. 
We are the living. Oh dear! 
There are the dead ones there. 
Their thoughts more familiar, though. 
Lives finished, nearly clear. 
And they make it possible for us to go on living 
as we do in their blue shade.

"No One Goes to Paris in August" from Waiting for Sweet Betty. 

The Painting After Lunch 

It wasn’t working. Didn’t look back. Needed something else. So 
I went out. After lunch I saw it in a different light, like a thing 
emerging from behind a fever bush, something reaching the 
senses with the smell of seaweed boiling, and as visible as yellow 
snowdrops on black earth. Tasted it too, on the tongue Jamaica 
pepper. To the touch, a velvet flower. Dragging and scumming, I 
gave myself to it stroke after stroke. It kept coming in bits and fits, 
fragments and snags. I even heard it singing but in the wrong key 
like a deranged bird in wild cherries, having the time of its life.

"The Painting After Lunch" from Waiting for Sweet Betty.

Photograph of a Gathering of People Waving 

based on an old photograph bought in a 
shop at Half Moon Bay, summer, 1999
No sound, the whole thing. 
Unknown folk. People waving from a hillside of ripple grass 
to people below in an ongoing meadow. 

Side rows of trees waving in a tide of wind, 
and because what is moving is not moving, 
you catch a state of stasis. 

Opposite of this inactivity 
you imagine distant music and buzzing and crickets 
and that special hot smell of summer. 

To the garden past the Bay to the meadow, 
cliff sheltered with low clouds, offset by nodding thistle. 
Tatter-wort and Stinking Tommy along footpath 
worn down by locals. But who and why? 

In the photograph itself you’re now looking the other way 
to unknown clusters of houses. 
Where forces are balanced to near perfection. 

Who could live 
in such a great swollen silence and solitude? 
You hear church bells 
from Our Lady’s Tears breaking that silence nicely 
but just in the right way so silence continues 
as though nothing else matters day after day. 

And anyway, each face seems so familiar. 

What do you do when you wave back? 
You wave vigorously. 
You remember your own meadow, 
your cliffside and town, 
photographs forgotten, 
the halfhearted motion of your hand, 
your grandmother’s church-folk 
gathering on a Sunday afternoon in saintly quietness. 

You name the people 
whose names are not written on the back. 
You forgive them for wrapping themselves in silence. 

You enter house after house and open top-floor windows 
and you wave down to future generations like this.

"Photograph of a Gathering of People Waving" from Waiting for Sweet Betty

Revelation at Cap Ferrat

It’s not solely the dance 
of the juggler but his spirit: 
with its turkey wings, perfect thighs, 
sensuous hips, large round flat eye. 
This eye smiles like lips. 
Watch this eye— 
it’s not a donkey eye. 

It’s not solely the dancer 
who moves like a circus animal 
as though to children’s music—no, 
it’s the girl in the swing’s rhythm, 
the ticking of the clock at night, 
the strut of the cock, the flight 
of the holy family to the remains. 
The nipple that feeds 
the infant is an eye looking 
into his future. 

It’s not even the village square 
with its musicians and happy faces 
that makes the difference—no, 
because if it were, weddings 
with violins, harps, flutes 
would have settled the question: 
no, it is the rising and lifting, 
the failing and catching of 
that unknown sense of self 
before it crashes, that matters.

“Revelation at Cap Ferrat” from Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998. 

San Diego and Matisse 


Beautiful women in smoky blue culottes 
lying around on fluffy pink pillows 
beneath windows onto charming views, 
sea views, seasonal leaves and trees. 
Inside is outside and outside inside. 
Smell of saltwater swimming in the room. 


Shadow of lighthouse along the beach. 
Whales spotted every day lately 
though winter’s two months yet. 
The evening is as warm as an interior. 
Silverlight lagoonlight, snorkeling light. 
And a line of joggers against last light. 
Blue smoke snaking up the pink sky.

"San Diego and Matisse" from Waiting for Sweet Betty.


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