Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Diēs caniculārēs

In these dog days of July, I feel the heat dissipating every ounce of strength my body once contained. My mind has grown stagnant. And for the past six months, I have felt an anxious midlife crisis creeping in. Memory works against me, too: I no longer trust unquestioningly what my mind tells me is true.

When I woke up the day after my twenty-third birthday—after drinking vodka throughout the night, dropping acid, and saying farewell to a lover for the last time—I felt somehow changed, transfigured, as if my feet were squarely on the proper path. But now I feel that I’ve followed that trajectory long enough. I long for disruption, interruption, corruption.

I believe that my chronic insomnia and strict training regimen contribute a majority of fuel for this feeling of disaffectation, of indefinitude. How could I not feel shattered when I wake up at 5:35 AM five days a week in order to run in 80-degree heat and humidity, especially after a night of not sleeping well? People half my age feel worse for doing much less. And the remainder of my day I devote to writing and working, which only approach in hours of relentless diminishment.

Chapter Three has finally released its death grip; I am almost ready to release it into the void and begin to take up the challenges of Chapter Four. I started reading an article this morning, but needed to nap before finishing it. My insufficient nap makes me as tired as a full insomnious week, and when I woke up, I was possessed by the need to write a few words here before getting back to the life at hand, to the work already underway.

From my childhood, I remember acres and acres of watermelon and having the pick of the patch, playing with action figures in the clay of a drying tank, cobwebs and dust bunnies under the bed with metal springs, and what seemed like a hundred days over 100 degrees during the heat wave of 1980. Most of my friends and colleagues weren’t born by then.

By the time I turned twenty-three, I already felt like I had already lived a full life. This was before moving overseas, living on other continents, falling in and out of love like a decadent aesthete, composing and producing three albums, and finding myself murmuring incoherently in the snow among the birch trees of Brzezinka. This was before apple tea in Istanbul and Porto in Montreal, before hikes across Okinawa and train rides to Venice. I only hope now I’ve reserved a few things for after.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Memory (Once More)


Und du wartest, erwartest das Eine,
das dein Leben unendlich vermehrt;
das Mächtige, Ungemeine,
das Erwachen der Steine,
Tiefen, dir zugekehrt.

Es dämmern im Bücherständer
die Bände in Gold und Braun;
und du denkst an durchfahrene Länder,
an Bilder, an die Gewänder
wiederverlorener Fraun.

Und da weißt du auf einmal:  Das war es.
Du erhebst dich, und vor dir steht
Eines vergangenen Jahres
Angst und Gestalt und Gebet.

 - Rainer Maria Rilke


And you’re waiting, expecting the one
to expand your life without measure;
the mighty, exceptional,
the awakening of stone,
depths, turning back toward you.

Dusk settles on the bookshelf
in tomes of gold and brown;
and you think of lands traversed,
of vistas, of the discarded
robes of women.

And you know at once:  Here it was.
You pull yourself up, and in front of you stand
another lost year’s
fear and form and plea.

 - Frank Garrett, trans.

Friday, July 2, 2010

At Once: A Second Word in Passing

In eins

Dreizehnter Feber.  Im Herzmund
erwachtes Schibboleth.  Mit dir,
de Paris.  No pasarán.

5     Schäfchen zur Linken:  er, Abadias,
der Greis aus Huesca, kam mit den Hunden
über das Feld, im Exil
stand weiß eine Wolke
menschlichen Adels, er sprach
10   uns das Wort in die Hand, das wir brauchten, es war
Hirten-Spanisch, darin,

im Eislicht des Kreuzers »Aurora«:
die Bruderhand, winkend mit der
15   von den wortgroßen Augen
genommenen Binde – Petropolis, der
Unvergessenen Wanderstadt lag
auch dir toskanisch zu Herzen.

Friede den Hütten!

- Paul Celan

In One

Thirteenth of February.  In the heart-mouth
an awakened shibboleth.  With you,
of ParisNo pasarán.

5     Sheep to the left:  he, Abadias,
the old man from Huesca, came with his dogs
over the field, in exile
was a white cloud
of humane nobility, he spoke
10   to us a necessary word in the hand, it was
Shepherd-Spanish, in there,

in the icelight of the cruiser Aurora:
the hand of brotherhood, waving with the
15   blindfold removed
from eyes as wide as the word – Petrograd, the
unforgotten migrant city was
to you even Tuscan at heart.

Friede den Hütten!

- Frank Garrett, trans.