RIVER H

18 05 2013

THE WAILING OF THE HUDSON RIVER

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Why does it wail, do you know?

The Hudson River wails at dawn. It makes like a low curve underneath the bridge or against its columns and then its metal waters arrive up to the terrace where I take cover from the cold that comes from the most ancient New York (city of a thousand films in my provincial imagination). And where a little bit of a Havana fled, that tried and tried, but still won’t die in my soul.

It would be cruel if at these heights of the dis-history my city wouldn’t let me forget her. I am a man. I lived in her for 40 years. It’s time to rest now. I’m exhausted. My eyes are so sad from so much seeing and seeing, without you looking at me. Even the colors have changed, like the afternoon that puts itself out from pure tedium. It’s time to rest. Havana, listen to me, please. Stay the fuck back.

If the Hudson River didn’t wail of doomsday at dawn, I would have to pull my head out of a 19th Century brick building. There are such beautiful and free people in this city. They look for you with a certain light of hope. Spring doesn’t manage to distort the jewel grey of Washington Heights and its desperate terracotta facades. This neighborhood all at once reminds me of the Lawton of my childhood. I know I don’t know what I’m saying, but it’s true. I had 40 years built up living secretly in a corner of the planet like this. A slice of insanity. A vision, a mirage. Miracle. Come along now, you.

The little glass-coffin windows filter voices coming from the floor below or the next state of this super-country. At last, after having counted so many stars and adding one more for Cuba (I grew up around these kinds of jokes), I don’t know how many shine in the blue rectangle. The US flag, let’s say it before it gets any later, is one of the most precious in the world. By some miracle, I prefer the Cuban, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because of its sensation of geometric imbalance or incompleteness.

I’ve seen beggars covered with circus tarps in New York and in Washington (I’m going to come to stay and live in Washington when I feel that my heart won’t die: it’s not a city, it’s a stage, and I love spaces that overflow their own extensions). Very few beggars, but I’ve seen them just the same. Many times more swarm in the streets of downtown Havana, and they smell worse. It’s just as cold and the night is long. I sympathize. I think I don’t have money enough to even buy one of those tarps. I’m a mannequin recently departed from the hands of a State that no one stops talking about here. I am in New York somehow only for that: to disown myself of all possessions and stay like the dream of a simple voice. The voice of those who indeed have a voice and are now about to lose it forever in a mock country. My country, a deal between the high powers of crime and the economy and the purple boasting of those who believe in incubating God in the archbishopric. And my voice, you know well that it’s your voice because so it has always been, brother, from Cuba. Your voice from Cuba where you shall want what you might be and shall now never return to listen to it, my love.

Hudson River, howled by Steppenwolf. There is a fury of end of the earth in me tonight that requires me to chew the glass from the windows, rip curtains, and business up out there, and sink myself in the trachea of a subway that reminds me of the dim light of Route 23. In the cafes the neighborhood girls are all left-handed and read A Streetcar Named Desire for hours. I click the arrhythmia of an anti-academic counterrevolution, as intolerable on the island as it is in exile. Inmanipulable, for that matter, intoolerable. Let me go home. And I go.

And my home turns into being my body, housing a frightened mind. It’s obvious that the government is hunting us crassly, tuning their aim as if we were ducks fleeing in the spring. And we are. A night in 1900-something, three days ago, I saw ducks in the frozen water of the monolith in Washington. I also saw a mistake in the Lincoln Memorial. I saw smoke in the sewers. Special pins from the State Department. And a loneliness of staff meetings that held me with pain to my bones until someone said something to me and laughed afterwards, restoring the order of things in the universe. The universe as a billiard ball, rolling as a vile buffalo.

Sometimes it howls. Wail. World Wide wail that makes the Hudson indistinguishable from an ambulance (those ambulances of the soundtracks with saxophone and sex that I used to see when I lived there, on the other side of the bay and the sky with microscopic flakes from the end of winter).

All writing is a farewell to mourning. New York is preparing itself for our slaughter. We are going to annihilate the Cubans. The desert must rule, life is a leftover. I’m announcing it with a gushing pleasure that will not explode on you. In more than one sense, until the last Cuban does not die violently, Fidel Castro will not know how to die.

(This last prayer is the most intimate crystallization of the beauty exposed before the dismay of those who don’t know how to hear. Then hear me, my characters: Ipatria, Olivia, Sally, finally …)

I’m going to stop. I’ve spent many days without being able to add an image to my madness. I’m trying to invent words. Other names for another novel. Rosemary, Samantha, Kate. Always girls without end … of boys I wouldn’t be able to write even a dialog. The boy is me and I’m dissolving more with each period.

Amen, my dears. Let me go.

Translated by: JT

13 March 2013

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While You Were Sleeping

16 05 2013

While you slept

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Ice is dead water.

I smell bad, like a homeless person in a subway car in New York. Although my scent doesn’t please me, it belongs to me. Private property in my absolute state of biologisity.

Exile is so exciting. All of us have been waiting for this occasion so much.

Dying among strangers is a privilege of the virtuous and angels. You know that I have no virtues.

There is no homeland with virtue. All homelands are a virtual shaving.

The transparent May night won’t let me sleep. I dream about North American scenes. Do Cubans dream with electric sheep? This is the way we wash the clothes, wash the clothes, wash the clothes, every Monday morning. Tom is a boy and Mary is a boy, too. One, too, how old are you?

Days of untranslatable drama (I prohibit the English version of this line*), dawns where the Hudson River falls silent, dizziness of a new century and end of the Revolution. I ask myself if somebody is peeking out at Night York in the Cuban mission by the UN.

It will be beautiful to see the new hatreds in the distance. The hour approaches, our time is near. Ideology turns into crime without the complexity of guilt. Idiot discipline. The mediocre efficacy of selective genocide is being committed against the citizens of my country. I ask myself if serial killers are sleeping with loose legs at the pile of Lexington Avenue and I-don’t-know-what street.

In human annals, nothing equals the marvelous despotism of an island left behind by the change of another island without interpretation. Freedom is an act. Manhattabana, mon amour.

My word is immaculate as a real virgin. My word perpetrates, penetrates. My word is an ephemeral fountain of reality. And reality is dirty ice, base material of the comets, water of stone or metal.

The only solid that survives is an automatic revolving door, some automatic stairs, an automatic cigarette, an automatic taxi driver, a piece of bread that from two months ago until today doesn’t know anything about me when at last I shove it down my throat.

Saliva. Sub-socialism. Individual salvation, intimate. Intimidating. Is this country very far from Alaska?

Human life is sick to death of skyscrapers. We weren’t building this city, we were destroying another. Art-deco: the art of deconstruction. We looked like the metal-eating termites of Stephen Vincent Benet, gnawing and ignoring the digital maps of that metropolis abandoned to half-ruin, a dried-out metropolis. We idolized the polichromy of a door called New York. Without a homeland but without love.

Terminal termites. Termites of totalianarism. The termite as a trending topic of that intemperate called sigloveintiumnidad.

The artisans of the United States have decided that the first Monday of each May shall be an immense feast day for all the Nation’s workers: hammers and sickles up! Souls down! What bubblehead needs a dysfunctional angel of God at these heights of the story (have you seen the homeless in the grave of God’s hand?), of a tax-free God sitting in his easy chair made of red velvet (the color of whorehouse lights), all His hair thinning out (unchaste, putrid), leaves that boil, barbarism flowering on to his chest (level with imported penne, with a rigid penis like a torch about to sink the heavenly hymen), eyebrows like a lawn (there are companies that specialize in surgically implanting them), Eve’s nut like a curse (until, pardon me, what am I saying?), have you wondered why all the Windows in heaven were broken, the hairless embedded chin on top of his sternum (do you want to acquaint the larks with the fatuous music of war: music of pipes, of carnival, of meat after decades of decadence)?

I’m corrupting myself. I wait for a click of love, I hope for an arched island. I don’t go silent. Without limits. My family still goes and I manage to remove them, a natural orphan. The absence of Cuba automatically makes you good, always and when you restore Cuba into your heart where no Cuban can see it. I’m as happy as a piece of bread. As a taxi driver in Tajikstan (they’ll drag out the rhetorical thievery of the USSR to the Big Apple). Like a carcinogenic cigarette of 1959 volts (the illusion, like all Utopias, ends up in the electric chair). I’m so joyful as a stairway or an automatic revolving door (they stop at midnight, perhaps to deny a song).

When injustice weeps, a people diet and feminine trembles. It tempers. Thus was tempered steel. Human zeros, buried. Smoke is your lies. Nothing is old in the moonlight.

Manhattan has an obsolete face and a million fashion pixels. It’s not New York, it’s much more than that: it’s barely its description. And it is, also, our inertial memory of what New York should have been before having been converted into New York.

The ambulances howl with their express packages of suicides, promptly hanged in a bathroom shower with end conditioning (the Spring of 2013 never quite arrived all the way, the landlords are lowlives and cut the heat off). New York remembers everything in an instant, likeable amnesia, amabilis insania. New York can do it all, hope for it all, forgive it all. It’s New York who sees, not love.

Love is my naked body that jumps backstroke from a bridge too similar to the Brooklyn Bridge over the top to be the real Brooklyn Bridge.

The dick is a parabola of unpronounceable precision (José Martí would never go here, despite his prudish promiscuity like a useless shield against bullets: although it might not be an enemy bullet that kills us tomorrow, but the illiterate machete of a national Negro), pressure.

Splash. Splatter.

A comet seems to have fallen over the city. I’ve saved 3,455 US dollars. I’ve been collecting them with my hand open from point to point on the blue line of the subway.

A.

A for Ana.

Is New York under or on top of the Arctic Circle?

He who pulls the levers on the A train, that’s me.

O.

O for Otto, the pilot.

And everything happens a little accelerated, jumpily, because we still have to discover the cinemascope.

The human species has its craters, its cavities. The stench of a dead raccoon is also a harbinger of spring. Out there are the great lakes, as a local cinema that I missed in my childhood: Erie. And to think I was so close to Lawton and Luyanó. Truly I tell you, love is a very splendorous thing. And in Alaska death comes next to the dismal sled of the worst of another century’s literature.

The catcher in the Ryevolution.

Yoko Ana.

The only hero here and now would be a burst of laughter, language of the crazy, a grimace or miracle. I look forward so much to a jail with the seal of the Supreme Court or the Association of American Psychiatrists.

Insomnia is something much more splendorous than love. I dream in North American scenes. I am hungry and cold, although they don’t recognize my princehood in New York. Do the sheep dream with electric Cubans? Paint me an olive, please.

Do not tempt me. Click gropingly. I press countless buttons of grammatical death.

Till State do us apart, Ana.

Till State do us apart, Otto.

There won’t be mercy from us, sinners. The struggle of mankind against power is lost beforehand. Come by us to this island from the other island. Barbarism is also true.

*Translator’s note: Sorry, Orlando. At least it was an easy translation this time. You know why they say rules are created, right? :-)

Translated by: JT

6 May 2013