Llanto Congelado / Frozen Cry by Lilián Pallares, translated by Charles Olsen
«Ve al mar, túmbate sobre las piedras y llora».
Ordenó la pequeña Mia
Tengo un llanto atrapado en el cuerpo,
un río turbulento que solloza a mi oído.
Viene de la barriga adolescente de mi madre,
ausencia febril del amor.
Lágrima de agua helada que se desborda.
Es un dolor que inunda y envenena mi sangre.
Algunas veces soy impasible, otras niña frágil,
un témpano de hielo a la deriva.
Quiero anegar mis ojos secos,
purificar con sal la tristeza y prender
fuego a este corazón que muere de frío.
‘Go to the sea, lie down on the stones and cry.’
ordered little Mia.
I have a cry trapped in my body,
A turbulent river that sobs in my ear.
It comes from my mother’s adolescent womb,
Restless absence of love.
A tear of freezing water that overflows.
It’s a pain that drowns and poisons my blood,
Sometimes I’m unaffected, other moments a fragile child,
An iceberg adrift.
I want to flood my dry eyes,
Purify with salt this sadness
And set alight this heart that dies of cold.
‘Llanto Congelado’ / ‘Frozen Cry’ by Lilián Pallares was first published in Spanish in TURIA, Revista Cultural / Número 135 (2020) and features in a poetry film of the same name directed by Charles Olsen that premiered at the Papaioea Festival of the Arts in the programme Poetry Without Borders, and is selected for the 9th International Video Poetry Festival, Athens, which will be presented online in June 2021. You can watch the trailer here.
Ipomea by W. F. Lantry
“Be! I warned him, of a summer night:
The epidemic, moving north, will soon
arrive, consuming us and all we know
with reckless speed. But there are tasks here still:
our dogs have been escaping through the fence.
Today I built a wooden form and mixed
two bags of concrete while the April sun
made even fresh dug earth glisten and sweat
then poured a barrier: it may yet hold
if there’s no evening thunder. While I worked
my darling bride lay on her well made bed,
my son and his young woman walked the last
long rows of blossomed cherries, turning white
before they fall, and James let loose those dogs
into the forest. Yesterday we bore
a year’s detritus up, and made a heap
along our road: a truck will take it all.
What can we do? There is no treatment. Night
is coming on, although the mockingbirds
sing from their birchlimbs near my window now
in our last rays. I take her in my arms
and whisper thanks. It may yet not arrive-
it may be all for nothing. If I plant
those morning glory shoots we’ll likely see
a robe of blue and scarlet in late June.
Plague Writers by Gary Langford
Boccaccio’s Decameron is the Black Death 1348.
Ten Florentines flee the blackened towns,
sheltering for a fortnight in a secluded villa.
They tell one hundred tales. Each tale grows,
depending on how outlandish the previous one is.
I am tragic. I am erotica. I am wit over you both.
Half the known world dies as Chaucer grows up.
His tales are pilgrims on their way to Canterbury.
‘Privee theef men elepeth death’ – The Pardoner’s Tale.
Cartloads of corpses call out to him. ‘Privee theef us.’
He nods ‘to rede and dryve the nyght ayway.’
His tales grow to twenty-four, only the harvests go.
Unfinished, an undertaker’s wagon arrives, 1400.
‘And on that oother syde a gay daggere.’
Shakespeare writes a play ahead of epidemics,
momentarily not assassinated by conservatives.
They like to blame disease on somebody.
His comedy? Only to be remembered for sonnets.
He chuckles to himself, got that one wrong.
Postscript: the Great Plague of London, 1665.
Audiences are wiped out in a blistered land.
A million readers go in the epidemic, 1889-1890.
David Copperfield creeps back into his novel.
Dickens aims to catch the Elizabethan in movies,
only to be told your novels are a forest,
suited to television epics, at least six hours.
He selects to hear epics as epidemics, bristling.
I got mobbed in my American tours.
Women were barely able to keep their clothes on.
The Elizabethan nods. You’re a fine writer.
Stop worrying about print runs. And don’t fume.
Another plague will arise in the afternoon.
We were in our fifties, says Chaucer suddenly.
Middle-aged today. And stop standing over me.
Writers and coffins were shorter then.
WW1, a colonial volunteer comes for a good time,
tired of shooting rabbits in a plague on the farm.
He builds rats into a hill the ANZAC’s hide behind.
The colonial is awarded a medal as a record ratter.
Spanish flu is friendly to a rat as soldiers go home.
Deaths pass the war, as the epidemic disappears.
The colonial enjoys returning to a rabbit plague.
Exactly a century later the COVID-19 emerges.
Viruses’ inbetween are small deaths, small sufferings.
Staff is the same in films and photographs,
stark eyes and large masks against a new enemy.
Uniforms rise from the ground as a weapon,
to wake in the mourning of family albums.
Breath chokes. This is the core of sadness.
There is blood rain to someone, borders locked.
Writers wave flags of friendly bacteria in the air.
On the Internet the history of viruses comfort us.
Death’s gas is no Black Death or Spanish flu.
Yet hollow, hollow in the earth to dig in sorrow.
The country of us approaches tomorrow.
We pray to sing in the birth of spring.
1 Hour to Lockdown by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been before
Overhead, the birds trill with painful clarity
each call distinct as a tuning fork’s chime.
Swish of the neighbor’s washing.
A crying child. Two cats
prowl the garbage bins
lone denizens of the deserted street.
Shattered glass fractures the floor.
Blood anemones peek between the weeds
by the Synagogue in Momory of the Six Million.
Purple-eyed flowers peer
round the bend. Parakeets
racket in the tree overhead–
green flames flickering between dry branches.
Cross the silent street
to the minimarket, overly clean
and empty. The light starts to fade.
Air grows chilled. Buy milk. Buy chocolate—
sweetness to keep the walls at bay.
How people might get by Meg Norris
Today New Zealand’s first person to person transmission case was identified,
I remember Helen reading poetry at the library,
she read “we got a gun – just for edibles.”
Then she looked up at us, the audience, and said, “we do have a gun.”
Today the stock market is crashing – worst since 87 – when,
if Grandpa had known it was coming,
he could have sold his shares pre-crash, bought the farm next door,
and then bought back all his shares post-crash with the change.
He wouldn’t have, but he could have.
Today there will be no photos of my 16-year-old’s adolescent putting of shots prowess,
the Manawatu Inter Secondary School Athletics finals is cancelled and so is the memorial for the March 15th terror attack.
My 12-year-old is relieving the tension for all of us by being excited about inventing new ‘foot-shake’ techniques to avoid handshakes.
Today people whose names I don’t catch on the radio are saying that schools must be closed,
the first case of COVID-19 in a school aged kid is announced.
A boy at Logan Park.
People are acting like it’s the end times,
just like they do before the shops are closed for Christmas.
I had to buy not-my-regular-brands of bog roll, bread and…. nope that was it.
Today New Zealand has closed its borders to all but New Zealand citizens.
We went out for dinner and filled in a contact tracing register.
Mr 16-year-old spent the day playing a new game with friends and strangers at Valkyrie,
now they have closed for gatherings.
The Rangiora Hall in Roslyn has closed,
dance class will be via Face Book video chat.
Today at some point during period 3,
it was announced that there are 36 new cases and further evidence of community transmission,
and that Jacinda would make an announcement re: threat level at 1.30.
In the staff room, closer to 1.45,
Jacinda was probably washing her hands,
Lock down was announced.
Everyone went silent as she spoke, all of us straining to hear from one laptop.
Today Jacinda talked about the worst-case scenario, and said it was intolerable.
My best friend’s cat Princess Buttons got put down.
My sister called an ambulance,
the experts determined that my 14-year-old niece was having a panic attack.
My body tells me I’m about to be burned at the stake.
Driving is only for food and medicine.
The kids are on edge.
Headlines say if we don’t do this right 80,000 New Zealanders could die.
Today an uncle of mine had a heart attack,
he is not allowed visitors.
I have to look back in my diary to see how many days it’s been, although I did see DAY 9 in a window,
the same one I walked past on days 4 and 5.
Today there are 82 new cases, but the Ashley Bloomfield show is very reassuring about the lack of exponential growth.
Over 1000 people died of COVID in France in the last 24 hours.
Jacinda has further endeared herself by letting children know that the Easter Bunny is an essential service but may be extra busy with his own bunny family.
Boris is in ICU.
Today the grocery shop took me nearly 3 hours including queuing in the rain,
and that was at 8.15 in the morning.
I set a new all-time grocery spend record.
It’s getting hard.
Mr 16 has been in a funk today.
Miss 14 and Miss 10 are complaining that it is boring here.
Two more frail elderly people have died of COVID19 in the last 24 hours –
in NZ that is,
over 2000 in the last 24 hours for USA.
On my walk I met a white fluffy dog with its tail and ears dyed Souxsie Wiles pink.
Today I am writing at midnight which I have decided is lock down 10pm.
An economist being interviewed on the radio sounds like he is going to cry.
My 12-year-old says people are friendlier on lock-down.
But I am getting less friendly.
I didn’t stand at my gate at dawn.
My 12-year-old wore the poppy he made and weirdly my 16-year-old made one too and I told them about conscientious objectors.
Today headlines predict mass firings once the wage subsidy ends.
Zero new cases.
To celebrate I murdered the sourdough in a final batch of linseed, wholemeal, poppyseed rolls.
A bunch of barbershops are opening at midnight (one hour from now) to get people trimmed up for their first day back at work.
Today I still remember Helen reading poetry at the library,
the bit where she read “we got a gun – just for edibles.”
Then she looked up at us, the audience, and said, “we do have a gun.”
Batnadiv HaKarmi is an American-born poet and painter living in Jerusalem. A graduate of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University, her work has been published in Poet Lore, Poetry International, Ilanot Review, Fragmented Voices, Indolent Books, Biscuit Root Drive and Flash Fiction Review.
Gary Langford is the author of 42 books, of which 15 works are in fiction, 18 works are in poetry and 4 are textbooks for teachers, writers and actors. His next work of fiction will be Gary Langford – Selected Stories. A CD of his poetry is Gary Langford Reading From His Poems, http://www.the poetryarchives.org. Gary is a painter / writer in Melbourne, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand.
W.F. Lantry spent many years gardening in his native San Diego and in the South of France. Currently he lives in the frozen North of DC. His full-length collections are: The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree), winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award, and The Terraced Mountain (Little Red Tree). Honors include: National Hackney Literary Award, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (Israel), CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Editors’ Prize, Old Red Kimono Paris Lake Poetry Prize and Potomac Review Prize. He edits Peacock Journal.
Megan Norris lives in Palmerston North. She spends most of her time organising her teenage sons, teaching Food and Nutrition and trying to learn Bollywood dance steps, but she occasionally finds time to write things down. Megan spent lock-down in a shared bubble with her husband and sister plus two nieces and two sons aged between 10 and 16. She belongs to a wonderful writers group which started up post-lock down.
Charles Olsen (New Zealand, 1969) has lived in Spain since 2003. Artist, poet and filmmaker, his short film ‘The dance of the brushes’ won second prize in the Flamenco Short Film Festival, Madrid, 2010, and his paintings have been shown in Madrid, Barcelona, Oporto, Paris, Wellington and the Saatchi Gallery, London. His latest poetry collection is Antípodas (2016). In 2018 he was awarded the III Antonio Machado Fellowship of Segovia and Soria, and in 2017 the XIII distinction Poetas de Otros Mundos (Poets from Other Worlds) by the Fondo Poético Internacional in Spain. Alongside Lilián Pallares he runs the audiovisual production company antenablue. Their work has been in international poetry film festivals and featured in Moving Poems, Poetry Film Live and Atticus Review. Charles has contributed essays to the forthcoming The Poetics of Poetry Film, Bristol: Intellect Books, S. Tremlett (ed). charlesolsen.es
Lilián Pallares, a Colombia writer and actress, received the XIV distinction ‘Poetas de Otros Mundos’ from the Fondo Poético Internacional in 2017. Her passion for folklore and African roots, and her love of the word led her to create her show, ‘Afrolyrics – a story of love and drums’, which unites poetry, dance, the oral storytelling tradition and world percussion. In 2020, together with Charles Olsen, she has received an Arts Residency at the Matadero Madrid Centre for Creative Arts. Her most recent poetry collection is Bestial (2019). lilianpallares.com