Josep Piera
LA IL·LUSTRACIÓ POÈT&K METROPOLITANA & CONTINENTAL
Plurilingual Anthology of Catalan Poetry
English

 

Josep Piera
(Beniopa, 1947)


ON DAILY LIFE
NUDE WITH LANDSCAPE IN THE BACKGROUND
FILTH
ODE TO SANTORINI

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ON DAILY LIFE


You don't have to go very far.
Nor walk down paths full of glass barefoot,
nor drown in the sea to drink light,
light, mythical word, metaphor of wisdom.
What you're probably looking for is right in front of you.
To enjoy hell you don't have to board a boat.
You don't have to go that far.
Whether it's a den, a pit, a short cut, a cliff, fire;
you don't need to run away; look, it's right here, all ready.
What things, what skies, what worlds, what words,
what horizons surround you, what prisons, what beings, what walls?
Stop a while, take a look, a good look, sit down.
You don't have to go very far.
It makes no difference whether clouds or wrinkled bark,
if you're outside cut out a few pieces with avid eyes.
If you're inside, cemeteries of words and cracked walls,
the naked pulse of a body, the solitary flight of smoke.
You can make them come alive. If you want to. Right now.
You don't have to go very far.

The space I left blank
was a few bland hours, an open parenthesis.
You only stepped out, walked a bit,
had a cup of coffee
where you knew you would run across a friend, some company
–it's just a case, a plain daily case,
unpretentious and yet unusual
that I set as an example, an image, a symbol or a simple story–
and now you have a new topic, not something exotic, something unexpected.
Any man, his elbows on the bar,
a damp marble slab of voices, his hands, his eyes,
full of talk about many things –it doesn't matter what things–
gin in his glass, sugar in the bottom of his cup.
And they call his name, with a slap on the back,
to tell him: –Have you heard?
                                                He knows nothing.
And now he would prefer not..., but he guesses, it's hopeless, he knows,
knows one thing, a word,
death, has shoved the whole atmospehere into a desert.
Nothing like before.
You don't have to go far.
An empty glass, cigarette smoke, the glass door
lets in a draft and the red graffitti
on the wall across the street, in the middle of a circle, rivers, blood,
dust; the noise of people, the sweat of sudden cold.
He doesn't care anymore and he sees it more than ever
and now he would love to go
far away, very far away, farther;
but he doesn't need to, he's already there.
And it all came with one word,
one simply grotesque, truly real word.

You can go far away or not budge.
Anywhere you'll find reasons.
Dead matter alone, only stones forget
past motion and life around them;
but men are not stones because afterwards they even
give shape to mystery and craft clay into pots.
No clocks, no feet, no fast cars;
only eyes and fingers on flesh
remove distances. Loving is knowing.
Inside ourseves miracles must be made.
Rituals and temples are not compulsory premises.
 
 


Translated by D. Sam Abrams
(Josep Piera, At Close Quarters, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1996)

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NUDE WITH LANDSCAPE IN THE BACKGROUND
 
Look at him, naked in the undergrowth, hidden
by the bushes, under the pines, how he lies
facing the piece of sky that blinds him, the only
human element his splendid body. Look at him
almost earth at a distance, a joyful oil lamp.
            A quail takes flight
            and, with spread wings, stands
            still before your eyes.
The rest is mountains, fields and vineyards,
thickets, patches of green. All drenched in sunlight,
an object shines near the fallen hand.
On the pink youthful skin
a few flies –summer?– a black buzz.

Who, from an invisible flock, wears such light bells?

The ambiguity of art, ancient wonder
on the enormous museum wall it stares at you
living yesterday, an image from the past, a useless piece today.
No matter how many memories you carry away from a place
which isn't this one –I know– the one you are now showing,
but, nevertheless, it is filled with words so natural to me
that I would have to paint you over again or, better yet,
destroy you.



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
(Josep Piera, At Close Quarters, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1996)

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FILTH


Dense, dense silence. The performance begins:
dream-door opens, dimmed lights:
rubble packed with lives: filth.

The past is accomplished in a moment of craving
like a ghostmatic folk tale
about sounds of lined husks and bodies smeared with sweat.
Outlines slip down into the chasm of the page.
Every word clay crafted
by the enormous touch a small story
that gave birth to us in a den of serpents
where we nevertheless strive like shipwrecked sailors against the sea.
Filth.

Dogs, rolling delighted in the rot,
conceal their smell, an ancient wild instinct,
not to scare away their prey; a useless gesture
because they eat their master's scraps off a dish.
You like your lamb lights with a hint of gall, rare.
And you know you're a handful of broken threads,
summary and outcome of lost battles,
of present pasts and hideouts in the darkness,
an adolescent writing his first poem.

Silence my friend
you trail your white script behind you
I am your instrument, amidst the barren trash.
Pleasure's waste
the crumbs of passion
like wild boars
you love filth.
 
 


Translated by D. Sam Abrams
(Josep Piera, At Close Quarters, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1996)

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ODE TO SANTORINI


The dark ardent desire I search for
in this sea of light and hope,
the desire to be the star child
that once felt he was an angel's dream,
brought me here, like a drifting vessel,
to your port of knife-edged ashes,
moon over the blue Aegean, dormant fire
like the bird that rises after burning.

Island from the sky, born from flames,
green wasteland, fertile in slaughter,
I wanted you so, I loved you so,
that before I took your abysses
I wanted you as you are, daughter of dawn
with vineyards clinging to life,
cliffs like blades, shores of cold lava,
where man, the same as the rocks, sings and cries.



Translated by D. Sam Abrams
(Josep Piera, At Close Quarters, Institute of North American Studies, Barcelona, 1996)

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