Arturo Desimone is an Aruban-Argentinean writer and visual artist. His articles, poetry and fiction pieces previously appeared in Berfrois, Nueva York Poetry Review, Círculo de Poesía (Spanish,) Island (Tasmania), the Drunken Boat, Anomaly and in the poetry collection Mare Nostrum/Costa Nostra (Hesterglock 2019) and “La Amada de Túnez” (publ. Clara Beter Ediciones) a bilingual edition of his poems and drawings was published last year in Argentina. He has collaborated as a translator on the book “Land of Mild Light”, a translation of poems by Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas, released by Arrowsmith Press during the pandemic.
In the day at a faded turquoise desk
constructed of four waves
borrowed from the Málaga sea
to overlook a pebbly beach,
where fishermen’s rods stand pitched
like gallows in the soil
here, from where the first carrack galleons sailed,
monkish, I study monk’s translations of old Aztec laws
on debtors’ slavery and on the rights of concubines,
Montezuma’s jurisprudence, or older judgements
on the allotted times and lengths of knotted ropes
and of shadows.
Thanks to the ships that sailed from here, from Málaga,
Spaniards up to their arses in cannonballs
did not know what
the music of the Aztecs sounded like,
a music stolen from the eardrums of future generations.
to the tinkling sound of unfailing Manuel de Falla
in my head, played by Artie Rubinstein, and inspired
by incantations of the eye-of-flames,
respected by my neighbours, gitanos fond
of the palm-clap, and less fond
of the wronging eye.
May these lazuli waves swallow up
the evil of misdirected glances
before they can inflict harm
upon those envied bathers
half naked against quarantine,
in a false winter’s sun
made trivial by conquering love.
Metro-Vision Pangrati, Evangelismos Station Athens 2016
That little event on the metro, between Pangrati (the Pan-Created)
and Neos Kosmos (the New World, barrio of old men
perched outside the taverns
playing with their koboloi,
rosaries without prayer)
a young man, my generation,
stood up offering me his seat.
Wouldn’t have given him more
than a few years junior.
Perhaps the Athens subway train,
because it does not rattle–as an abacus counted furiously
by a god-king’s army of amanuenses
counting cattle–does not slate as many years
onto a diminishing body.
In that sense alone, does this subway’s mercy
mirror Athenian winters.
Did he fear,
or did he see in me an old man,
Geriatrikos, through a pre-orthodox
that allows the future’s shades
and spectres to snake in, along with
crises from the past,
an old ambling man, in his seventies perhaps,
walking without Oedipal riddle-cane
no longer wanderer,
having kissed the Sphinx to eat
her dying breath,
no need to stab the third limb of riddlers,
yet greyed—a rickety grey man manoeuvring still,
in Athens of few greys apparent to the visitor,
in the anti-arthritic, bone-soothing Athenian winter
between Pangrati and Neos Kosmos,
and those flaxen-coloured old columns,
like so many broken crayons
painted the colours of unwashed sheep.
Poemolatry on a bus driving past the Dead Sea
Zion was never specified.
After the whirlwind kicked up Negev,
sun in the bus window expands,
glistening as a lake—soldiers put make-up on,
and smell of the sun and river
make Delilah’s green chrysolite
spark from disaster-sundown.
The driver, barefoot hits the gas-pedal
with a bit of oil of the enemy realm in it,
speed past Midianite villages
either under the sand, or scheduled for the sand,
or otherwise under control.
Noise has undone the buttons of their uniforms,
armed gazelles, with Gilead-wool-white smiles,
they sit now in safe buses,
and the sun is multiplied— sun, destroyer, sits
upon a lake– dead sea without cosmetics,
none of Delilah’s green chrysolite
encircles desert eyes or dead lakes.
Sun is an ever-the-drunk,
He plumbs the war-worn earth
whose terracotta womb is scarred
by limitless diversions, so cruel
they could bore even garish Tel Aviv,
Spring-Hill city of open minds,
minds open like drawers after a midnight raid.
The Sun inspects the uniforms, the fortunes, lack thereof;
the flowers with intertwined guns; the bus,
for terracotta wine-jugs of Herod,
stolen from holy fortress of Mt. Ma Tzada
where soldiers swore, and swear today
“May Ma Tzada Never Fall Again!”
Now he wants Aarak, drink,
the word means “sweat”
in Arabic, rightly.
The liquor makes drunk,
more than the micro-radio in ear-pool.
Near evening the sun takes a swim,
dunks his head in places where he shouldn’t, like the sea, red
and full of reeds’ secret separation songs— and full of garbage, consecrated,
(In Binzereth, Tunisia)
There are flowers in the field that are rare
and their stems curve to emulate mimetic
like artists, the waves
over the end of the field
where there is sea,
some loose horses graze in the field,
their hind legs as muscular
and similar in colour
as the people in Binzereth,
as the hair of the women:
brown golden gorgon hair.
The air is wet full of lightning serpent.
Through a forked tree
a boy gazes
at a girl facing a horse
with the end of the field,
the horizon on its back.
A woman in purple hijab
holds her daughter by the hand, violet sleeved,
walking, grazing in the hour of lights after sundown.
Looking from the window
I lose all faith in another world.
Poetry in this post: © Arturo Desimone
Published with the permission of Arturo Desimone