From the longer sequence “ASIA. PLANETARY RHYTHM MARRIAGES – a graph poem”

[from the MARGENTO collection forthcoming from Casa de Editură Max Blecher]

by Margento
click pentru versiunea română


The Euro-Gate


Hungry Hell – Romania 1948

after Randall Jarrell



Out of little Paris, as if waking from a dream, into the slammer

an empty belly and enigma cell: tomorrow…

How long shall I survive, how much room for miracles on a map,

stigma of blood and shit on the wall…

Still they washed me out of the cell with a hose and fed me to the hounds.



The Amero-Gate

Gwendolyn Brooks

We Real Cool



We real cool. We
Left school. We


Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We


Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We


Jazz June. We
Die soon.



The Afro-Gate


The Mau Mau Head



There was a Mau Mau head

or Uma Uma with an ivory forehead

in the year when Brooks wrote

the poem in the beans


                        eaters. It was growing in a Kikuyu

                        woman’s womb when a rusty key

                        pushed by a brave Mau Mau pierced her

                        in the massacre of the sacred independence


from the British Empire.

The Anglos let them kill

each other and then grabbed

the baby’s ivory head


                        and carved a Churchill bust out of it.

                        Little; quaint; like a clump

                        of barbed wire pushed up

                        the Moldovan prisoners’


asses by the Transnistrian sep-

aratchiks screaming: Here is Ro

mania for you, the whole of it… a high-wire

act of diplomacy rolling


                        through intestine feuds

                        and side-shows a drunk leader’s dream

                        wrapped up in ivory, corn, and oil

                        slowly making it into the Oval Office…


Obama, fifty years after the grain

of snooker and death in Brooks’

book gets carried away by a wave

of memories… His grandpa beaten up


                        by the Brits in that Kenyan prison…

                        and looks at the bust and it gets on

                        his nerves and he checks out the head

                        can’t get the head out of his head temples


beating like Khrushtchev’s shoe on the UN table

like a German boot and a Russian boot

playing hopscotch over Poland…

he grabs it and pitches it like a baseball


                        all the way back to the palace in London.

                        But the globe stops shining up in the sky,

                        a fetus revived in the light’s body,

                        Kikuyu mama’s womb, mother of the world.




Glenn Colquhoun (Aotearoa/ New Zealand)

When I Am in Doubt

a poem for surgeons


When I am in doubt I talk to surgeons.

I know that they will know what to do.

They seem so sure.


Once I talked to a surgeon.

He said that when he is in doubt

He talks to priests.

Priests will know what to do.

Priests seem so sure.


Once I talked to a priest.

He said that when he is in doubt

He talks to God.

God will know what to do.

God seems so sure.


Once I talked to God.

He said that when he is in doubt

he thinks of me.

He says I will know what to do.

I seem so sure.




                                                       This is the season, this the day, the hour;/ At sunrise thou shouldst come…



MARGENTO – Riffing with Elizabeth Bishop: Old Nova Scotia Sound in New Mui Ne



as I walk my feet sink in the red ground
                                Down at the water’s edge, at the place
                                                                    where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp

taking in the colorful tombs

scattered on the sliding dune
                                descending into the water, thin silver
                                tree trunks are laid horizontally

with Zen swastikas carved into stone and
                                across the gray stones, down and down
                                at intervals of four or five feet.
the sea blinking at the deserted place.

Without my getting to look into the distance

                                Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,

at the waves, corals start to wake

up in my ankles waving with poisoned fish in the

                                element bearable to no mortal,

                                to fish and to seals . . .




Biker in Saigon



What? Can’t do that

anymore? Ooo, to carry it all, my memories

and quandaries, the family

riding piggyback, still stuck… until it says “go!” and I cut

corners like the Americans who used to reap

Vietnamese women’s breasts in the past?…



How?                         How to wait                     at the lights

in a hive                        full                              of hum

          just for show?                   and with no food

                    for                 the multitudes                      on                a                           moto

          R               cycle                 in line                     in                    net

    wORks                of roads                   and stuck

shaking at

idle like a turtle crushed under

the weight of a centuries-old elephant in the swamps?


When, now, when is it going to end? The mound, the moon, one

ivory yellow light-bulb on one sema

phore blind and dangling holding me

waiting, painfully flickering like a stoma

ch… rumbling, empty wind

falls from the killed ones everything that was

left for us out of what

just wouldn’t and wouldn’t turn green.



Lý Đợi

Who Do You Take Me For?



Mourning covered all walls [including the “concrete drilling & cutting” ad stamps]

Ignominy occupied the city once thought of as a pearl [actually a piece of shit]

On 47th Alley

leaders, servants cried plaintively

young men and women, even middle-aged and weakly old-aged people are in ruins

all females lost their beauty

and males no longer had their handsomeness

and their brains were flat and smooth and full of detergents…


in those ranges of houses…

the bridegroom and all the beards raised their voices in an elegy

the bride and all the beauty girls lamented in their boudoirs

the earth was on the point of collapsing [because of the ignorant living on it]

the sky was on the point of falling [because of the insensitive contained in it]

all the family and friends of DoiLi were deeply in shame…


this place is an ambush for poetry

a cruel enemy of life, and a vile reptile against humankind…


we shed our blood

we bit our tongues, blocked up our assholes, and wrenched our own necks…

while those cowards fled upon hearing the bad news

the city became the station for invading foreigners

our children were assaulted, raped, and abused

our ancestors’ tombs were upturned

our poetry was used as toilet paper sheets…


oh, people of the city imagining itself a pearl

the more glorious in the past, the more ignominious now

noble in the past, lowly now…

who do you think you are

what do you expect

as clammed up as an oyster – why are you so mute?


as for me, a most ignominious citizen

An alcoholic saint in disease

A whimsical guy sitting on 47th Alley and philosophizing on drilling & cutting concrete


and dreaming of holes, and changes

And writing a poem in coupled couplets [in moth-eaten

language] on those things [believed by the

inhabitants here] to be so obvious!


I thought that this might end here but I must add:

that you bastards are so thoughtless

Who do you take me for?

I am vomiting over my own face and conscience.


(Lý Đợi “Who Do You Take Me For?” translated from the Vietnamese by Alec Schachner, Nguyễn Tiến Văn, and Chris Tanasescu)

From the longer sequence “ASIA. PLANETARY RHYTHM MARRIAGES – a graph poem”

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