Calling Cards

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
Calling Cards
Physical Description:
1 online resource (38 p.)
Language:
english
Publisher:
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( M.F.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Creative Writing, English
Committee Chair:
Logan, William
Committee Members:
Horton-Stallings, LaMonda
Rosenberg, Leah R.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
cosme, creative, poetry
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre:
Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
The following poems are a mix of translations and my own original work. The translations are part of an ongoing effort--a desire--to interact with international, contemporary poetic communities. My own original work, perhaps, seeks out the elegance Roberto Bolano spoke of when he wrote, 'Elegance, true elegance, is always discrete.'
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
General Note:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
General Note:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
General Note:
Adviser: Logan, William.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UFRGP
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
Embargo Date:
5/31/2010
Classification:
lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID:
UFE0022194:00001


This item has the following downloads:


Full Text

PAGE 1

1 CALLING CARDS By COSME CABALLERO A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

PAGE 2

2 2008 Cosme Caballero

PAGE 3

3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank m y supervisory committee chair (William Logan) for his generosity and patience. I thank my supervisory committee members (Leah Rosenberg and Lamonda Horton-Stallings) for their kindness.

PAGE 4

4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................3 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................6 CHAP TER 1 A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CULTURAL INFORMANT .....................................................7 A Day in the Life of a Cultural Informant................................................................................7 Final..........................................................................................................................................8 The Near Death of a Latino Niche-Market Muse..................................................................... 9 The Duration of Happiness.....................................................................................................10 Scribble # 3.............................................................................................................................11 Landscape...............................................................................................................................12 The Overseer...........................................................................................................................13 Lunch at Burger King........................................................................................................... ..14 Scribble # 9.............................................................................................................................15 The Lost Detectives............................................................................................................ ....16 2 OBJECT OF DESIRE............................................................................................................. 17 Object of Desire............................................................................................................... .......17 Nikki Lee................................................................................................................................18 Raft........................................................................................................................... ..............19 The Woman of the Seven Seas............................................................................................... 20 The Frozen Detectives.......................................................................................................... ..21 C# Philanthropy......................................................................................................................22 Waking....................................................................................................................................23 La Declaration........................................................................................................................24 Clean Clothes..........................................................................................................................25 Christmas Eve Cleaning Duties..............................................................................................26 3 ON MODERN POETRY........................................................................................................27 On Modern Poetry............................................................................................................... ...27 Good Neighbors......................................................................................................................28 High Poetry.............................................................................................................................29 Dapper Wally..........................................................................................................................30 A Modernists Desk................................................................................................................32 The Eve of Easter Rising........................................................................................................33 Resurrection............................................................................................................................34 Without Wings.................................................................................................................. ......35 Godzilla in Mexico.................................................................................................................36 Newspaper Photograph........................................................................................................... 37

PAGE 5

5 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................38

PAGE 6

6 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts CALLING CARDS By Cosme Caballero May 2008 Chair: William Logan Major: Creative Writing The following poems are a mix of translations and my own original wo rk. The translations are part of an ongoing effort--a desire--to inte ract with internationa l, contemporary poetic communities. My own original work, perhaps, seeks out the elegance Roberto Bolao spoke of when he wrote, Elegance, true elegance, is always discrete.

PAGE 7

7 CHAPTER 1 A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CULTURAL INFORMANT A Day in the Life of a Cultural Informant My friend and I sit together on his veranda, rocking in his fa milys antique chairs, waiting for the overcast skies to turn charcoal. He urges me to hold nothing back, because today is the saddest day in the history of the world. At first, I used to tell him about my family. I spoke of the wrongly imprisoned, of those who died in the ocean on their way to the U.S, of those who drank themselves to death in cheap dives in Miami. He wept and said that is the way with many people, and that he and his goddamn house were to blame. I lied to him from then on, speaking only of happiness and triumphs, but--as I stare out from his chair and see the darkness mounting, the thunder beginning, the very birds scattering for cover-there is nothing I can say that wont bring on his hot, stupid tears.

PAGE 8

8 Final This is the backya rd of my childhood. The floor tiles are sp litting and the plants grow out of cracks in the walls. In the silence of this empty place, I realize the terrible truth: everything is shit. Things arent really that bad, I know; but lets agree that the hypocrisy of filling poems with catastrophes has now become second nature to me. When I see people kissing in the plazas, I cant stop believing in a future in which the only vestiges of love are pornographic videos. Translation of Final by Fabin Casas

PAGE 9

9 The Near Death of a Latino Niche-Market Muse In Miam i, where this sort of thing can occur, I had a vision. We were driving through Little Havana, where old toothless people di scussed visions of their own. While sipping cfe, they told stories of corrupt Presidents and revolu tionaries in places they have run away from--stories th at will not be published in America. At a traffic light, I trie d to find English words in the advertisements. I spotted only two: Calling Cards. I looked away at the paint-chipped walls of buildings and whispered under my breath: A terrible beauty is born. Wearing camouflage pants and a Flor ida Marlins T-shirt, an old man with an empty condensed milk can approached my door. I made a dumb show of pretending to look for spare change. Then a blast of hot air struck me. I closed my eyes and, in that red-black void, I saw my mother and father. They were teenagers in love. On the shores of Varadero, wearing her snorkel mask, my mother blew into a conch. On the sea, smiling people rode inner tubes--they were all returning! My father grabbed the conch and prepared to blow once more into its fat, pink spiral; but then, instinctively, I opened my eyes to find his hand pressed against the car horn. I shifted in my seat, feeling a warm wetness between my legs, the cost of my cure.

PAGE 10

10 The Duration of Happiness There he is: Mam s grandfather, completely senile, in diapers and with porcelain teeth, sitting amidst a family he no longer recognizes. On the count of three, say: Whiskey! His smile lasts as long as that moment between the spike of the flash and the descent of the shutter. Translation of Lo Que Dura la Felicidad by Luis Chaves

PAGE 11

11 Scribble # 3 % race

PAGE 12

12 Landscape A single scream sleeps in the landscape. Translation of Paisaje by Dionisio Lpez Cabral

PAGE 13

13 The Overseer Som e of the men are experts. They can sneak the biggest stones. Sometimes, looking out over the rocks, I watch them dig, thei r black backs bent. Their spines will never recover. I think about the skin of their wives, and how rough such hands must feel. Every day the sun rises to its meridian, scorching their bodies. At times, I dig with them, because the muddy water is cool. I have been doing this a long time. There is no need for me to raise my voice to them. They come to me, stooping, and beg to shit or piss. It disgusts me that it has come to this. Go, idiot. But be quick! I say. They run, barefoot, into the jungle to do their dirty deeds. I say nothing all day. With each second, with each throw of the pick-ax, they wonder: Does he know that I buried it? If enough hours pass, they think they have made off with it, hidden their treasure deep enough below their stinking shit that I wont dare try to find it. I do not blame them for trying. All of them are desperate. Today, that one there, with the scar across his face, has hidden a diamond. In a moment, I will show them who I am. I will walk into the woods, dunk my head into the shit, swallow a good deal of it, and pull the raw diamond out of the earth with my teeth. The first one that laughs will be saved; the last one that cries will be killed.

PAGE 14

14 Lunch at Burger King W riting a poem on a napkin -like the one I write now -sitting at a red-and-white table -like the one I am at now -eating a Whopper hamburger with French fries and coke -like the one I eat, while writing this poem -really, it cannot end any other way than with the final phrase printed on the receipt atop my tray: Have a nice day -like the smile of the cashier, the instantaneous muse of this poem. Translation of Almorzando en un Burger King by Arturo Gutirrez Plaza

PAGE 15

15 Scribble # 9 his panic salsa

PAGE 16

16 The Lost Detectives The detectiv es are lost in the dark city. I hear their groans. I hear their steps in the Theater of Youth and a voice advancing like an arrow. I see the shadows of cafs and parks at which we used to meet. The detectives stare at their open hands-their future is stained with blood. You cant even recall where the wound was made, the faces you once loved, the woman who saved your life. Translation of Los Detectives Perdidos by Roberto Bolao

PAGE 17

17 CHAPTER 2 OBJECT OF DESIRE Object of Desire Beneath that sexy sexy mole silen tly a cancer grows. Translation of El Objeto del Deseo by Luis Chaves

PAGE 18

18 Nikki Lee On the wall above her bed is a m ontage of Caribbean and South American postcards, and some small sketches inspired by the novels of Gabriel Garca Mrquez. All her makeup is set atop an old notebook. Yesterday, she read: If our personas survive the audience of the street, they will probably survive the meanness of the art world. Facing herself in the mirror, she sits rubbing cocoa butter, her suave breasts bursting at the seams. Everything she wears tonight is two sizes too small. She reaches for the smooth tube and dabs the soft pink flesh of the lips, covered in what she calls: popped cherry red.

PAGE 19

19 Raft They take turns holding a broom stick, a mast when the wind is good. When the wind is dead and the floating slow, someone must remove it and smash it through the surface of the water, keeping the blue sharks dorsal fins away. Kiki cant stand the sound of the stick hitting the water. He says it drives the women away. This is another problem-keeping Kiki out of the water. Alberto shakes his head and stays quiet. Hes right. They shouldnt have brought Kiki along, Hes too young. He doesnt even have any hair on his balls. Alberto was sleeping, when he heard the boy whispering something about Elizabeth Taylor. It was only after Kiki yelled, Its the most beautiful woman in the world, that Alberto woke and found Kiki cupping an invisible tit. That was days ago. Now, Kiki is tied to the raft with rope. They have run out of water, so they dont speak. They barely move. At night, together, they hum one song, and, for a few moments, they feel at peace and know they will make it: Blue Moon, now I'm no longer alone, without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.

PAGE 20

20 The Woman of the Seven Seas I wanted to see t he woman my mother will never speak of, so I hid in the bed of his black Silverado. He drove in circles around the Seven Seas Motel, which is what my brother and sisters said he would do. When he finally pulled into the parking lot, I pissed myself and started to cry. My father opened his door, coughed, and pulled up the tarp I hid under. He slapped both sides of my face with the flat of his hands. Get in and dont fucking move, he said, locking me in the cab. Dizzy and tasting blood, I saw him turn, as the door to 6B opened and a woman with a face like mine called out to him.

PAGE 21

21 The Frozen Detectives I dream t of frozen detectives, Latin American detectives who wanted to keep their eyes open while they slept. I dreamt of horrible crimes and of cautious men, who could avoid stepping into puddles of blood, while they measured the scene of the crime with a single glance. I dreamt of detectives lost in the convex mirror of Arnolfini: our era, our perspectives, the shapes of our terror. Translation of Los Detectives Helados by Roberto Bolao

PAGE 22

22 C# Philanthropy Which you like? he asks. I observe the children hes lined up for me. The Padron tells them to hush, his finger firm against his mouth, shushing through the hollow O. I scan the line of girls and boys; their skin reminds me of my gran dmothers russet potpourri. My wife gives days, weeks of her life to save what? Just choose one, I think. Choose one from this batch of cursed orphans. That one, I say, pointing at a child who, in this half-light, is as sex-less as a primitive by Matisse. He make a good son, says the Padron. He a good worker. The Padron orders him to walk towards me. He do whatever you like. Naked, the boy looks and acts like a self-conscious teenage girl. I shake my head. The boy falls back into line. Like a cashier at the mall, the Padron sighs. Please, Mister, I no have all day. I come closer and remove my sunglasses. Her, I say. That one. A woman at fourteen, or twelve--what does it matter? I have noticed the children are incapable of looking me in the eye. Look at me, I order her in Spanish. The Padron sold me my daughter in 1982, and one of these winters, as we sit together, watching the frost on the windshield melt, she will ask. Thats what I think about when the cockatoo starts to sing, and I have to pay the cost.

PAGE 23

23 Waking Believe m e, I am in the center of my room, waiting for it to rain. I am alone. I dont care if I finish my poem. I am waiting for the rain, drinking coffee and look ing through my window at a landscape of backyard s that reaches the horizon, with clothes drying quietly on lines, a silent variety of clothing drying in my city, where the wind does not exist, and, in the distance, only the noise of a television being watched by a family, who also, at this hour, sit together drinking coffee at a table. Believe me, the plastic tables are yellow and they, too, go past the horizon, to suburbs where department stores are being built and a sixteen year-old boy sits atop a stack of red bricks, watching the machines. The sky in the hour of the boy is an enormous and hollow cloud-screw with which the wind plays. And the boy plays with ideas. With ideas and with scenes. The immobility is a mist, transparent and hard, that comes from his eyes. Believe me, it is not love that will come, but beauty, wearing her necklace of opaque stones. Translation of Amanecer by Roberto Bolao

PAGE 24

24 La Declaration Picture m e, center stage, the shy pupil reciting the preamble-then the sharp, sticky little laughs. Outside,some vieja struggles with her groceries, while a business man walks past her, looking at his watch. A bag rips open and a lettuce head rolls to the street, while Tito and the boys laugh at her shoes. Cavalero, you must practice more, says Mr. Webster, as I follow the trajectory of his index. You may take your seat, he says, pointing at a tiny desk, where Old Glor y will hang above my head.

PAGE 25

25 Clean Clothes One day, you leave to find death, without clothes for the following week, with the on ly white shirt left from your days in college. One day, you hurry, as if with a headache, as if you were running late for all the trains, as if you had to meet with half the world. One day, you dont know who the hell has enough love in him to fix those things left from the catastrophes of your life, or who the hell is going to seal forever the albums with the secret photos of that time when you thought the glorious muscle was all the strength you needed to live. One day, you will not return home for clean clothes. Translation of Ropa Limpia by Delia Dominguez

PAGE 26

26 Christmas Eve Cleaning Duties My aunt worked with a m achete, her bare shoulders burning in the mid-summer Florida sun. The pigs blood dripped from her blade and ran along the pavement, forming small pools where the concrete wasnt level. She wore a butchers apron and smoked cigarettes, while she drained the intestines into a bucket. Without a man in sight, she inevitably sang her favorite songs by the Ramones. As a boy, I always wanted to help, to hold the massive blade, and know the crescent geometry of her swing. She was my Toshiro Mifune, and I her audience. Shed give me the hose and leave me with the task of washing away the red shoeprints marking our paths along the floors outside the house.

PAGE 27

27 CHAPTER 3 ON MODERN POETRY On Modern Poetry There are people dying in Iraq. Indeed, he says, reading the newspaper. There are people dying in Iraq. A sham e, he says. He looks towards the window. There are people dying in Iraq. Look at this, he says. There are people dying in Iraq. Would you take a look at this? he asks, staring down at the shimmering dust as it floats in a cone of light.

PAGE 28

28 Good Neighbors I know that behind this wall my neighbor is listening to m y thoughts. So, I whisper to myself, though I miss much of what I say-Im talking about imagining her naked, upon her bed, thinking about what Im thinking, as I think behind this wall. Of course, I cannot hear what she is thinking. You see, she does it quietly, like me, between warm, white sheets. Translation of Buenos Vecinos by Arturo Gutirrez Plaza

PAGE 29

29 High Poetry Som etimes I burn candles down. Sometimes I burn the midnight oil and rummage through books as if they were tools, dangerous tools. They say, Open me, Samaritan, I have a daughter in the hospital and I need change for the bus. Im not sure if theyre telling the truth. I dont think Im mistaken in these cases. With a dangerous tool (for example, a garden shovel-any tool is a weapon if handled adequately), I remain alert to the noise of the street, while from a book or my rough drafts come doodles. I stop at a phr ase, as if I grasp it; and, this time, I feel the words force themselves in. I wait for them with a ga rden shovel in one hand, and with the other I read Ode to a Nightingale. Translation of Alta Poesa by Germn Carrasco

PAGE 30

30 Dapper Wally A. Maria wakes up and realizes the last m an in her bed was drunk on Mojitos. At least he brought her flowers. Las flores del sol, Maria. She notices the semen stain and takes the sheets off the bed. My God, that man could talk, she thinks. He said he would take her to ancient cities where he could make love to her in a pagoda, their bodies entwined, making a dwelling in the evening air. The mirror shows her smiling. Many men have said they would take care of her. She walks to her bureau, takes out an envelope and seals it, the rich mans money within. Its headed to Cuba, to buy a pair of tiny pink shoes and a months ration of fresh bread. B. Mrs. Stevens sits with coffee and oranges in her sunny chair, peignoir draped across her lap. She thinks a little of wet roads on autumn nights, when casual flocks of pigeons go in fellowship into the echoing woods. She walks into his study. Leaning over his desk, she reads first lines, Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame. Then the note, You can reach me at Ramons. He took his pink parasol to Florida? She walks around his room, her fingers brushing against the rows of leather bindings. She walks to the window and lets the light in. A little light never killed anyone, she thinks.

PAGE 31

31 On the wall behind his chair, hangs Matisses The Dance. She walks closer, her face inches from the paint. She lifts her hand and lightly presses the ruddy paint across the trough where the primitives conch should be.

PAGE 32

32 A Modernists Desk In the light of the student-lam p: a letter from Dino Grandi sits next to a half-eaten apple rotting on a white plate. The following sentence is underlined: Il Squadrismo l'unica cosa che arrester i socialisti. A tiny bronze statue of Mussolini stands atop Yeatss Tower and a swastika is drawn on the margins of The Wasteland. Next to a collection of Noh plays and a photo of a blind old James Joyce, is the work : Autumn moon; hills rise about lakes against sunset Evening is like a curtain of cloud, a blurr above ripp les; and through it sharp long spikes of the cinnamon, a cold tune amid reeds. Behind hill the monk's bell borne on the wind. Sail passed here in April; may return in October Boat fades in silver; slowly; Sun blaze alone on the river.

PAGE 33

33 The Eve of Easter Rising Tired from making concessions in the senate, Yeats rests at his daughters door, watching her read by candlelight, her tiny hands holding the book out of the shadows. The branches shake beyond her window, just like the branches outside a certain ancestral house in Coole Park; he recalls the days he sat in that house in the comfort of a leather chair, his delicate fingers turning the pages of books that famous hands had bound. In 1916, he put down such a book and looked out the window at three horsemen approaching. The fire of their torches was the only light in the black night of the woods. He watched them dismount but only one entered. Yeats greeted the man and offered him a chair. The man sat and lit a cigarette. Do you know why Im here? he asked. Yeats stayed silent. The demeanor of the man surprised the poet, who had always thought him a drunk and vainglorious lout, worth nothing but a passing nod or a few polite words. I came here, began the man, to see if youll join-- Would you like to see my tower? asked Yeats. The Irishman let out a laugh and took a long, hard drag from his cigare tte. Yeats loosened his tie, as the man looked out the window at the horses and the other men. The poet licked his lips. I want to show you my tower. The man snapped his attention back to the poet and moved forward in his chair. How big is your tower? he asked, his tongue softly clicking on the G.

PAGE 34

34 Resurrection Poetry en ters the dream like a bird diving into a lake. Poetry, fearless, enters and falls like lead into the infinite of Loch Ness, or into the murky abyss of Lake Balaton. Contemplated from the depths, it is an innocent diver who wears the plumage of the willing. Poetry enters the dream like a dead bird falling into the eye of God. Translation of Resurreccin by Roberto Bolao

PAGE 35

35 Without Wings Where the sign explains nothing, a bird flies without wings, asleep in its dark glide, knowing nothing of the horizon. O, wingless bird what m ystery lives in your flight? You are the weightless bird, without tomb or shroud, which has sung to the battered ones. Translation of Sin Alas by Dionisio Lpez Cabral

PAGE 36

36 Godzilla in Mexico Listen, m y son: the bombs fell in Mexico, but no one noticed. The wind carried the poison through the streets and into open windows. You had finished eating and were watching cartoons on TV. I was reading in the room next to you when I realized we were going to die. Dizzy with nausea, I managed to drag myself to the kitchen and found you lying on the ground. We hugged. You asked me what was happening. I didnt say we were going to die. I said we were taking a trip-one more--together. I told you not to be afraid. When it happened, death didnt even close our eyes. What are we? you asked me a week or a year later, Ants? Bees? Mistaken ciphers lost in the great soup of chance? Were human beings, my son, almost birds--heroes-acknowledged and unknown. Translation of Godzila en Mxico by Roberto Bolao

PAGE 37

37 Newspaper Photograph A city in ruins, which three or four grandfathers finally decide to leave. Behind them, a dog that, once all the danger is gone-with snout in the air smelling the twis ted metal and the dust where the walls used to be-returns to find his food, his spot at the foot of the bed, the warm hand that rubs his head. Translation of Foto en el Peridico by Luis Chaves

PAGE 38

38 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Cos me Caballero was born and raised in Miami, Florida.