miércoles, 8 de marzo de 2017

ALFRED NICOL [20.013]


Alfred Nicol

Alfred Nicol es un poeta de EE.UU. Trabajó en la industria de la impresión durante veinte años después de graduarse de Dartmouth College, donde recibió el Premio de la Academia de Poetas Americanos. Ahora vive en Amesbury, Massachusetts y es miembro de los poetas del río Powow. Editó Powow River Anthology, publicado por Ocean Publishing en 2006, y fue el ganador del Premio Richard Wilbur 2004 por su primer libro de poemas, Winter Light, publicado por The University of Evansville Press. Sus poemas han aparecido en Poetry, The Formalist, Measure, Commonweal, Verse Daily, The New England Review, Atlanta Review y otras revistas. Varios de sus poemas han sido antologizados en la poesía contemporánea de Nueva Inglaterra, sonetos: 150 sonetos contemporáneos, y beso y parte. La última de las nueve entregas de su largo poema "Persnickety Ichabod's Rhyming Diary" aparecerá en Light Quarterly, vol. 52. 

"Nicol es mucho más que poeta, es también poeta de lector, y su obra, aunque deslumbrante, no pretende simplemente deslumbrar sino transmitir con encanto y profundidad las experiencias de nuestra vida común". - Rhina P. Espaillat 

"En todas las páginas Nicol exhibe una genuina grandeza de espíritu y gracia de mente, sus técnicas están perfectamente afiladas, y esto es ciertamente uno de los mejores volúmenes nuevos de poesía que he leído en años". - Jay Parini.


El Naufragio del Abraham Lincoln

"Todos en el naufragio se mueven por su lado."
                               — George Herbert

Aprendiz de un matón más corpulento,
Christie lame la mano del narciso
como todos lo harán en su momento.
Ser un perro faldero es ser sumiso.

Cada quien tiene voz en el tumulto,
aunque hablen todos con el mismo tono.
El timbre de Giuliani es un insulto
al micrófono hundido en abandono.

Melania, quien de punta en blanco es magia
en este carnaval del desenfreno,
recita como quien no quiere y plagia
las obviedades de un discurso ajeno.

Aquí hasta los ladrones hallan nicho,
¿pero un fulano petulante y puro?
Cada cosa en su sitio, dice el dicho.
Cruz, vete al otro lado de este muro.

De puntillas, avanza el acrobático
Ryan, en desafío del abismo,
vendiendo —aún sonriente y diplomático—
lo que no compra ni siquiera él mismo.

Trump dice que esta vaina está precaria,
y cómo no, si sacudiendo el dedo
identifica al diablo en su adversaria.
Mensaje recibido: tengan miedo.

Versión al español de Pedro Poitevin  (Versión original en The Hipster Conservative)



¿Cómo Llamarlo?

¿Y si llamáramos al monstruo Monstruo,
          No sería mejor?
Hasta el momento hemos llamado al monstruo,
          Con timidez, “Señor".

¡Ahí está en paz haciendo cada cosa!
         (Qué triste nuestro fallo).
Hará picnic de la sobrina hermosa
          Tan pronto arranque mayo.

Hemos rezado porque el monstruo encuentre
          En ella un sacrificio.
Nos apretujaría un poco el vientre
          Pensarla desperdicio. 

Y vaya que ha servido –¡cómo brama!–
          Para avivarle el hambre.
"Quiero más, quiero más", el monstruo clama
          Con necedad de enjambre.

En la noche, despiertos todavía,
         No encontramos remanso.
El monstruo acecha en cada qué sería
         Violento y sin descanso.

Y nadie, nadie llama al monstruo Monstruo.
         Tenemos culpa todos.
¿Quién va a poder domesticar a un monstruo
          Con tímidos apodos?

Es hora de que la verdad se entienda
          Sin peros en la mente.
Hay que lanzarle un nombre que le penda
          Como intestino al dente.

Dilo si puedes: Monstruo. Monstruo. Monstruo.
          Se siente más sincero.
¡Qué ingenuidad la de esperar de un monstruo
          Que sea un caballero!

Versión al español de Pedro Poitevin



Pedro Poitevin (PP): Con la victoria electoral de Donald Trump en las elecciones presidenciales del pasado noviembre, “El Naufragio del Abraham Lincoln” ha adquirido un tono más sombrío.

Alfred Nicol (AN): En el mejor análisis de las pasadas elecciones que he leído, Stephen Greenblatt compara el éxito de Donald Trump con el de Ricardo III, el personaje de William Shakespeare, quien asumió el poder asistido por una “nación de cómplices”, unos de ellos “irresistiblemente atraídos a hacer parecer normal lo que no lo es”, y otros “persuadidos de que habrían de beneficiarse” a pesar de cuán destructivo era Ricardo. Esto es lo que yo sentí mientras veía las elecciones primarias del Partido Republicano, y quise registrar mi consternación en un poema “ligero” que pronto, según yo, al igual que Trump, sería olvidado. Pero la pesadilla sigue. Me equivoqué.

Sin embargo, continúa siendo vergonzoso que el partido de Abraham Lincoln, nuestro mejor presidente, y John Greenleaf Whittier, poeta y abolicionista apasionado, haya nominado como su líder a un tipo tan inepto e irrisorio como Donald Trump.

PP: Leí “¿Cómo Llamarlo?” justo después de releer el Cratilo de Platón, así que me hizo mucha gracia la idea de rimar el nombre con la cosa. ¿De dónde vino la idea?

AN: ¡Qué maravillosa coincidencia que estuvieras leyendo un diálogo sobre el tema de los nombres antes de leer ese poema!

No puedo leer el poema sin pensar en el tema de las elecciones pasadas, pero cuando escribí el poema, hace muchos años, no estaba pensando en la política nacional. Es un poema profundamente personal en el que me llamo la atención a mí mismo por mi complicidad en una terrible relación que duró la mayor parte de mi vida. Mi culpa radicaba justamente en estar irresistiblemente atraído a hacer parecer normal lo que no lo era. Yeats dijo: "De las disputas con los demás surge la retórica; de las disputas con nosotros mismos surge la poesía".



The Magician’s Bashful Daughter

The moon looks kindly on this slender reed.
Fair and fairylike, and like the moon
When, thin as air, it braves the afternoon,
Advancing while appearing to recede,
The bashful daughter of Le Grand David
Appears onstage to disappear, for soon
She’ll step inside the coffin-like cocoon
To be sawn through and not be seen to bleed.

Reopening the door, her father beams
With more than showman’s pride to find her sound.
Her slippered feet touch lightly on the ground.
She smiles, with braces on. How real she seems.
Oh but the moon is swift to make its round,
And she is only changefulness and dreams.

From “Winter Light,” 2004, The University of Evansville Press; published in The Formalist



The Difference

Most men—and I am not most men, but still
I have to tip my hat to what in them
Abides in me—most men give up romance
At some point. If they haven’t learned to dance
Before they reach my age they never will.
The rose, such as it is, is off the stem,
But not the thorns. The thorns are what they were,
And love is crowded round with hurtful things.
What’s in the thicket loses its allure.
Most men are sleeping when the night-bird sings.
I’m just the same. What most men know I’d learn,
Except I know a rose whose flame I’m sure
Will never fade, and that is why I burn.

Published in The Edge City Review



Hard Winter

She got a call, she tells me, from the vet,
Saying the cat is not responding well.
Though she speaks calmly, clearly she’s upset,
And clearly there’s much more she wants to tell.
The weather of her life has not been fair;
Her face shows she’s been out in it too long.
The taxi’s late. A raw, indifferent air
Goes brushing past. She’s spent with being strong.
“She sleeps in my bed. I…”—she’s nearing tears—
“Undo my shirt and hold her to my breast.
We’ve lived together now eleven years.”
I wince to hear such loneliness expressed, 
My thoughts—kept to myself—unneighborly:
Turn, and look away. You frighten me.

Published in The Formalist



Guinea Pig

A pet, domesticated overmuch,
Inhabiting interminable lulls,
Most pusillanimous of animals,
Inertia’s own, quiescent as the sands,
And shy to venture even round the hutch,
Her pleasure is a motor in my hands,
An instrument set racing with a touch.

A little thing of breath and heat compact,
Mildest of spirits, in a flask of fur,
Without even a sound as signature,
No bark or whinny, whistle or meow,
No word to instigate or to react,
She gently nods assent to here and now,
An answer well-considered and exact.

I’ll learn from this one how much not to do;
How large a silence to accumulate;
To serve with those who only stand and wait,
To change alfalfa, sawdust, water, salt,
For other needs as moderate and few;
To thrill when lifted; visited, exalt;
Nor ever speak till I be spoken through. 

From “Winter Light,” 2004, The University of Evansville Press; published in Commonweal



Old Haunt

The book that taught to dust shalt thou return
Collected dust, but I was quick to learn.
I thought that if I hastened my descent
I might avert some loss. So down I went

Among the catacombs of libraries,
Where Santayana questioned Socrates
In the hushed tone the newly dead assume
When they address their elders-in-the-tomb.

There I mixed in. Stiff and unathletic,
I fashioned a persona, The Ascetic,
That gained acceptance. All my gang were ghosts.
We raised an empty glass to make our toast.

Appearance didn’t matter where we met.
Observing the unspoken etiquette
Of disembodied voices, I kept still
And in the feast of silence had my fill.

It needed salt. But there was dust for that,
And at the empty table where we sat
Plenty enough, for we were slight of build.
There were no table crumbs, and nothing spilled.

We would indulge a taste for subtleties,
And contemplate in long soliloquies
The ease of being none too full or fond
Of anything or anyone. We’d bond,

These absences and I. Because I sensed
That what I felt they too experienced,
The opposite of a collector’s greed,
Something we shared of needing not to need.

Published in Poetry



Potatoes

            “What happens to a dream deferred?”
                                                —Langston Hughes

I.

French for potatoes is les pommes de terre;
Earth-apples: crisp, but lumps —not red, or spherical.
The soil is never burdened, like the air,
With song or mythic fruit that waxes lyrical.
And earth’s not water. No reflection’s there.
No orchard hangs inverted by some miracle.
Something subversive curls inside a term
That wants to bring the apple to the worm.


II.

Hard to believe my father ever young.
An ill-advised furrow ploughed under revery.
But when he dreamed, he must have dreamed among
The pines beyond the granite-walled periphery
A dream selected like a stone and flung
Back on these rock-strewn fields as what could never be.
One simple stone took root where it was clear:
It’s possible to grow potatoes here.


III.

A penitent in burlap, the brown root
Shrivels with neglect, its blind eyes fingering
The darkness. Prayer without a myth is mute.
My father, off to work without malingering,
Did not look up to see forbidden fruit
Or question the forbidding one with hungering.
His fate excluded any willful plot.
Potatoes kept for seed were left to rot.


IV.

How old he came to be, the patient one,
Happy alone, behind the toolshed puttering
In the least likely soil, out of the sun,
Dry needles raked away. The pale wings fluttering
Among potato leaves —his dreamwork done—
Alight and flicker like a candle guttering.
These are my father’s orchards, empty now.
The stones upon the hill resist the plough.

From “Winter Light,” 2004, The University of Evansville Press; published in Measure



New Year

         “Even such is man”
                      —Henry King, “Sic Vita”

Like an engaging lady’s whim,
Or like a tabby’s morning swim;
Like an accountant’s spending spree,
A starlet’s popularity,
A daughter’s mood, a boy’s regrets,
An open box of chocolates;
Like morning mist; like cradlesong:
My resolution lasts as long.

The cat keeps three paws on the deck;
The clerk, too, keeps himself in check;
The whim passes; the crowd moves on;
The boyfriend calls; the candy’s gone;
A boy forgets; the sun breaks through;
The baby sleeps: I stay with you.

From “Winter Light,” 2004, The University of Evansville Press; published in The Formalist



A Bother

Here’s Rocco now, sprawling across the keys;
whatever I may try to write,
he’s there in black and white,
purring, rolling on his back to bite
my fingers if he disagrees,
minding my q’s and p’s.
Well, I require constant stroking too.
And maybe I get in the way.
I like for you to say
I’m clever, good. And feed me twice a day.
There’s nothing I would rather do
than rub up next to you
and feel that spark of electricity
leap at the touch, connecting you to me.



Ellipse

Restless, off center, again, so often now it seems
a kind of starting point, familiar in its way,
a place I might come back to, on my own, could be
I shouldn’t try to shake this, haven’t lost my focus,
only that another has developed and
there’s no one center now, I’m someone else as well,
this one and that one both, no need to come around



One Day

We walked in light and shade
Along the lichened wall,
No task at hand
And nothing planned.
The poplar branches swayed.
And Finlay chased his ball.
And something made us smile,
And something else, again.
Nothing less
Than happiness,
And good to last awhile.
Enough to last till when…
This simple summer day
Of not too much to do
May be the one
We look back on
When years have swirled away
And days like these are few.



An Innocence

Like Robert Burns, I too turn up a nest
while working, raking last year's leaves in spring.
But not a mouse. Pale rabbits, shivering, 
rustled from their blind and naked rest.
If they showed fright, I'd feel it in my chest,
but only shying from the chill, they cling
together close, alive as anything,
three steps from Route 1A. Unwelcome guest,
I have surprised them in their nursery,
stumbling on the bed and canopy
their diligent though absent mother built,
with muzzle-fashioned, straw-and-lapin quilt,
but I am less disturbance than a flea.
They focus on the task at hand. To be.







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