Pepenador de palabras
Landscape, landfill: from a couple hills away with papers flying and ink-beaked gulls I’m a scavenger rooting about, picker of words, new father trailed by a long cotton sack, Nobody, now a humpback: reader, be careful: intensifiers combust: it’s easy to lose your footing: noxious puddles of common nouns red as brake fluid: bottles and fins and the detritus of feathers: iridescent condoms, bloated cardboard: the leg bones of pig and cow I can resell to the soup factory for bullion: bending with her little sleepy weight from dawn until scudding clouds darken the late horizon: dull ache in the back of my thighs turning to numbness as I hunker with tweezers to fill one of the four class vials clipped to my break pocket: scry, emunctory, sugared, tic, comma, priapism: once I dream of Remedios Varo in a hammock between trees and a stream: wake up: that slope is where they slide and dump the near-dead fish without permission after closing time: you fall there, you go under for good: the sun at noon chomps at your neck: once I opened a yellow garbage bag stamped with the insignia of the National Library, cut the corded muslin: finger-tagged, it was the desiccated arm of Cervantes clutching a rusted sword: strata and skin: who knew the next day from a fruit crate I’d hear her infant cry: wrap song to my back: bring her home to the sound of boiling water: constant wing-flap of tarpaper: Lucero.
Poema, by Maurice Kilwein Guevara, is a complex and beautiful collection. Throughout most of the pages the poems seem to act in layers. The deeper you go, the more powerful the words become. At the end, this poem is all about words. The powers words can have, and the power we try to take. Through this poem, Maurice is saying that being a poet is like being a garbage picker. Poets must comb the language/knowledge tossed into the landfill of language and history. We create poems to sell back to the world.
What does it say about us that so much history/language is willingly thrown out? Well, it seems to point an accusatory finger right back at us. We’ve commoditized language/history and discard these important bits of information when deemed useless. Are they are useless as we imagine? Well, I have to point to our shrinking language. Today, we just use less words. We only need to look at politics/social issues to see how detrimental the issue has become. Words take on multiple meanings, but has their tone highly relied on. A word like “Racism” takes on multiple meanings, so the issue gets buried under confusion or the refusal to scrutinize one’s own actions. Something that comes out of that is the use of a word such as “Thug.” It is, in my mind, a straight-word replacement for the N-word. Of course, those who use it would call foul if that point is made. “Thug” is seen as an innocuous word for bad guy. The use of the word isn’t ever looked at… because honestly, who are the group people mostly being called “Thug” here?
And this is where I think the poem really gets to the heart of the matter. Not on race issues, but on the issue of language. It is about the ownership one has over language. If we, the readers, see this landfill as being one littered with history and language, we must also look at the person picking from it. The Poet takes control of the information they hand back to us. While they may be combing the history that sorely needs to be spoken about, they will obviously no present all the facts to us. Take, in this poem, the reference to Remedios Varo. Who is she? Well, she is one of the few Women Surrealist in a movement that was mostly controlled by Men. I already knew the reference since I have a passion for Surrealism (her paintings are amazing). How many of you would have known that? And where would you start looking? (I found her first on Tumblr… speaking of landfills). The garbage picker in this poem has the ultimate control over us. However, we’re all beholden to the control of language itself. Language becomes about a concentration of power. Those who control language control the discussion, thus controlling the person. However, language has a power all in itself. The multiplicity of every word, alongside their histories, adds onto the object the word is used upon. We struggle somewhere in between all that, attempting to make sense of our being.
I would definitely recommend this book. It has such a free, but complex quality to them. The poems are luminous and just wash right over you. This is a beautiful book with a complicated message. Buy it here: http://tinyurl.com/ovh9nzk.