Friday, September 05, 2014

Happy Birthday, Nicanor Parra!

Poems and Anti-Poems, in Honor of Parra

In honor of Nicanor Parra, the great anti-poet of Chile, celebrating his hundredth birthday on September 5, 2014.

The Power of Prayer

* * * chart of conversions * * *

One hundred people praying = One atheist sends an email
Two hundred fifty people praying = One atheist picks up the phone
Five hundred people praying = One atheist helps with the laundry
One thousand people praying = One atheist shows up with lunch

On Error

Kernel of the error: the conjunction of “my” and “life”.

Also, is there some sane reason why I should prefer the contents of my mind to whatever the cat is doing?


Everyone says they want to help, but almost no one actually helps. Those who do help are virtually always women over the age of 45.

Yet never once have I seen an accurate depiction of Heaven, populated overwhelmingly by middle-aged women.

Wisdom in Three Parts

The first part of wisdom is to compose a list of idiots and resolve henceforth to ignore them.  Because the world includes a great number of ranting self-important fools who can be relied upon to be mortally offended every three days and useless in-between.

The second part of wisdom is to recognize that one is, oneself, a person on that list.

I don't know what the third part of wisdom is.

On Pain

Small small things don’t much mind pain.  No chatter, no crusade.  I know from my life as a pebble.  And still more from my time as the Hindenberg.

Dodge consolations.  The pain has a lot to say.  Happily, almost none of it is about pain.

On Track

The right track and the wrong track are not in different directions.  Only a hair's breadth -- no, only a soundtrack separates them.  The right track is a non-track.  Unless frequency counts as a track, which it might, but still not like a track through forest or college.  You don’t make a goddamn career out of it.

reading nicanor parra makes me think I, too, 
can write anti-poetry

one thing about
this all-pervading fear
like a flow of water that won’t turn off
(yes, like wetting my pants)
like an unending series of slaps
pay attention!
is that whatever happens
inside this fear flood
this excess of attention
I remember
so that therefore
although it’s terribly
it’s also worth more

On the End of Youth

I was young until the age of 38. Lucky, don’t you think?  Lucky -- very possibly spoiled.  I was young on the muralled streets of Santiago, sharing beers with Ratoncito.  Even on the plane back to Japan, I was still young.  On the very last day of my youth I watched kabuki from an impossibly good seat.  The next day I accompanied the Nicest Guy in the World to the hospital where I learned a great deal I had not been told.  The nurse put oxygen tubes in my husband’s nose as I stood beside his wheelchair, uninsured and middle-aged.

Love Equation

The amount you love someone is exactly equal to how much you are willing to be inconvenienced on their behalf.

The rest is crap.

my fame

walking down bombero nunez
santiago dreaming of publication

in prominent internationally-recognized literary
magazines as ahead of me a stray dog darts
into the street my fame
the car swerves my success
confused the dog runs
so incredibly
important beneath the tires

my certain fame

if only I could trade it
for the life of the dog.

On Ministry

As a promiscuous homosexual and wannabe practitioner of literature, I note that, even on the highly unlikely chance that I someday have five thousand readers, my primary ministry will still have been fellatio.

I have no problem with that.  I’m better at sucking cock.  I aim to praise and thank, to adore.  I do my best work where words are not even an option.


not sure
it counts
as charitable

each day
to be
the fool


just an excuse
to sit


The Power of Prayer / 2

A man shuffled past, his bald head bowed down. He was holding a string of smooth prayer beads that reached nearly to the ground.

As he passed I could hear him chanting, “Help isn’t coming. Help isn’t coming.”

Hard as It is to Believe

No one has shown us the curve.
For all we know we may be doing well.


maybe it isn’t

maybe it wasn’t


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