Toasting my funerals away, Spring 2006 by Gabriel Aresti Jr.

We are celebrating that spring came over and we did not even make a move
Move, he says to me, we need to keep moving
We’re moving, the ground is moving behind our feet
You know what I’m gonna do when I am older?
Nuclear weapons
I’m gonna do nuclear weapons
I’m gonna do nuclear weapons with geraniums
See those geraniums how they’re starting to blossom
This garden of concrete
I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna make nuclear weapons to celebrate
That spring is here.
Keep on moving.
We walk
We totter
We laugh
We stop in front of a fruit store.
Melons!
We’ll serve dessert in the living room, ladies and gentleman
You feel like trying it?
My living room is a desert
Blossoming desert of greening meadows apple trees
Oaks poplars birchs beeches holms pines are all invited to dine
You see them there up in the mountains
You see them?
Up there
Can you see them?
They glow like uranium
Geraniums and nuclear weapons.
Melon for dessert. This desert of concrete and pavement.
Daisies, dandelions, darnel, daddy was always telling us
The names
Always the names of things
You remember when we were kids?
You remember that?
Back then
When spring was dry and flat.
Keep moving, he says, and I lower my head to follow
The tracks in the sand of asphalt.
We better keep moving, we’re late.
We’re celebrating.
I know.
Spring came back.
Yeah.
And everything’s gonna be okey.
Sure.
We’re gonna make nuclear weapons.
You bet.
With geraniums.
See them, blossoming.
They blossom.
They do.
I miss him.
Me too.

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Gabriel Aresti Jr. is the pen name of Ángel Chaparro Sainz.   Ángel was born in Barakaldo, Basque Country, northeastern Spain around 1976. Currently, he is a professor of English at the University of the Basque Country where he has been teaching literature, poetry and history as well. Some of his short stories have been published in Deia newspaper and some other anthologies after being winners of contest such as Villa de Gordexola, Ciudad de Eibar or Ortzadar–all of them in the Basque Country.

Gabriel’s poem “Nospringland” won WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff Admin Award.   To see more of Gabriel’s poetry published previously on WIZ, go here, here, here, here, and here.

*non-contest submission*

A couple of announcements

First, Torrey House Press, which recently sponsored a contest for nature-themed fiction focused on the Colorado Plateau, is sponsoring also a creative literary nonfiction contest.   Torrey House calls for nonfiction that shows their judges “the power of the Colorado Plateau.”   The deadline is May 21.   Essays can be long, up to 10,000 words.   Entry fee is $25.   You can find out more here.

Also, Wm Morris, who helped me start Wilderness Interface Zone, has interviewed frequent contributor to WIZ Ángel Chaparro Sainz over at WIZ’s sister site the Mormon Arts and Culture blog A Motley Vision.   Ángel recently completed a dissertation titled, “Contemporary Mormon Literature: Phyllis Barber’s Writing,” for which he received summa cum laude marks from University of the Basque Country (Universidad del País Vasco — Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea) in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.   Congratulations, Ángel, for finishing the dissertation, for its garnering high marks, and for the intriguing interview.   Seeing WIZ friends pop up in other places in print, on paper for in an electronic medium, is always delightful and cheering.   Well done, Ángel!

To read the interview, go here.

Every Step I Take by Gabriel Aresti Jr.

movili resized (click into for larger view)

Five hours feeling happiness
I have been walking for five hours.
I got off the subway five hours ago.
I kept on walking with the city on my back
Streets becoming tracks
Tracks becoming old dry creeks
Creeks steep
Climbing to the top of one
Then making my way back
Five hours feeling happiness.
Five hours getting numb
Five hours leaving real life down there in the map
Five hours out of frame.
I have been walking for five hours.

Five minutes ago I realized I was coming back.
I began counting my steps.
I stopped humming songs.
I’m sweating no more.

Heavy.
I’m feeling heavy.
I’m crippled.
I stop.
My feet on the dirty ground.
I count to five.
I start crying.
Nobody is around.
I’m alone.
I’m listening to the empty brilliance of my own existence.
I’m feeling little.
I’m alone.
I can’t stop crying.
My bones are cracking down.
The wind keeps swaying me.
The track keeps waiting for me.
I count to five.
I stop crying.
Nobody is around.
I trigger my boots.

Five hours feeling happiness.

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For Gabriel’s bio and more of his poetry go here.

Mountalogue by Gabriel Aresti Jr.

I know this sounds stupid but but
I can’t help it
It is good for my health
My mental health
You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?

The range goes deep into the horizon
It’s been snowing for days
I’m cold comfortable cold
Nobody was coming on the track
It was only me
White to both my sides
White front
White back
Light
I keep following the track
I keep seeking the range.

You hear me I know that
And nobody is here around
It’s only me and you
And I know you’re just a mount
But I need to talk to the mounts
Mount, can you hear me?
You hear me.
Do you hear me?
I’m getting nuts, you mount,
I need you, you mount,
Mount,
Mount,
Mount.

I keep following the track
I keep seeking the range
I’m feeling cold comfortable cold
It hurts
I need it to hurt
I’m getting nuts
I need you mount
I need to escape, I need to fall
I need to disappear, I need your help.

Breathe.
I take my cell phone from my pocket
Mount? Are you there?
I won’t be able to get to you
Whiteness is blinding me
I feel good
Lost
Breathe.
I’m getting nuts.
Can you hear me, mount?

____________________________________________________________________

Gabriel Aresti Jr. is the pen name of Ángel Chaparro Sainz.   Ángel was born in Barakaldo, Basque Country, northeastern Spain around 1976. Currently, he is a professor of English at the University of the Basque Country where he has been teaching literature, poetry and history as well. Some of his short stories have been published in Deia newspaper and some other anthologies after being winners of contest such as Villa de Gordexola, Ciudad de Eibar or Ortzadar–all of them in the Basque Country.

To see more of Gabriel’s poetry published previously on WIZ, go here, here, here, here.

Mi tierra y mi hogar (with translation) by Gabriel Aresti Jr.

Déjame que te cuente cómo me compré esta casa
Verás
Habíamos visto ya cuarenta y nueve pisos en dos meses
Algunos vacíos
Otros recién abandonados, con frascos de colonia
Aún expuestos en el baño y un añejo olor a tabaco
En las paredes desconchadas.
Otros seguían repletos de vida, con fotos enmarcadas
Mientras tú intentabas prestar atención a la chica de la inmobiliaria.
Era el piso número cincuenta un viernes frío
Y lluvioso y los dos subíamos cansados hasta
El barrio más alto de la ciudad.
No tenía luz. Nadie vivía en él. Continue reading “Mi tierra y mi hogar (with translation) by Gabriel Aresti Jr.”

Winners of WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest

As everyone probably knows, the winner of the Spring Poetry Runoff’s Most Popular Vote Award is Karen Kelsay for her poem, €œWaiting for Spring. €   In fact, Karen’s fans filled the top three spots with her poems, all of which, as I’ve noted before, have lovely minstrel qualities.   €œWaiting for Spring € exhibits not only Karen’s trademark engaging musical properties but also its visual images are intensely toned.   Congratulations, Karen, for winning and also for having a bevy of happily supportive friends.   Karen refrained from choosing between the two books of poetry offered as prizes €”Mapping the Bones of the World and Backyard Alchemy €”saying, €œSurprise me. €   So I will.     Thank you for your generous participation, Karen, and well done, fans of Karen!

The winner of the Spring Poetry Runoff’s Admin Award is Gabriel Aresti Jr. (aka Ángel Chapparo Sainz) for his poem, €œNospringland. € For his prize, he chose to receive Warren Hatch’s Mapping the Bones of the World.

All the poems submitted to the Spring Poetry Runoff form a stunning garden of springtime delights and more than fulfill the celebration’s intent to welcome spring via communal voice.   The fine language of many of the poems attracts my attention sharply.   But I had to choose one.   I chose €œNospringland € for the Admin Award for its heart, its sentiment, and €”against all its appearances of being a simple poem in language and form €”the intricate way it threads into a complex tapestry €”the Basque separatist movement in the poet’s homeland.   €œHomeland, € of course, is the matter the conflict holds in question.   Also at the heart of the conflict €”preservation of the unique Basque language.   The poet’s choice to write and send an English-language poem reflecting the conflict’s effects upon him personally is itself a complex act, not the least of it being the sharing of heartfelt experience with an English-speaking audience.   Furthermore, given the Basque language’s importance to the decades-long conflict and to the poet’s identity, seemingly obvious lines such as €œThere is no more poetry for your fight € acquire iceberg-like ironic depth and weight.   As I mentioned in the comments on that poem, the use of punctuation €”another seemingly simple pattern of choices €”also intrigues me for the effects it exerts on the poem’s tone.

While €œNospringland € ran counter-clockwise to the general tone of the Spring Poetry Runoff, I found the poem’s language a deeply moving and necessary reminder that spring does not appear the same to all eyes.   What I might take for granted as a season to gather in communal festivities can in another invoke, in the changing of light and flowering of warmth and spring colors and in shared language, painful ironies of separation and the continued intrusion of the killing season into a celebrated time of rebirth.   Thanks, Ángel, for sending that poem.

“What the Mormons Taught Me About Spring and More” by Gabriel Aresti Jr.

I was getting cold feeling bored going down the road again
This was yesterday
But I like to use the past simple tense so it looks even further away
So I told my girlfriend
I think I’m going through a brand new crisis
What crisis?
She sat up and smiled as wide as she could
That kind of crisis, you know
That kind of crisis, you know? You mean the same crisis you have
Every ten of the month when you get your unemployment’s check?

Sort of
Man, she lay down again
You’re tiring you know that
But this also sounds completely different if you read it in Spanish,
Believe me it’s spring here and we have a couple azaleas which
Are beginning to blossom even if we live in a cold and wet place.
So I thought it could be good to change the topic:
Spring is coming slowly this year
She nodded
We could go for a walk some of these days
She nodded again
Let the spirit of spring bring new energy to our bodies
She looked right into my eyes,
When are you going to finish that dissertation?
Voices and lights sparkling and dancing on TV set
Why do you say that?
She didn’t nod, she didn’t look, she didn’t even take care for her words
You’re getting too-too spiritual lately.
I was getting cold feeling bored going down the road again
This was yesterday
But I have no other way than to resort again to future tense:
I will tell you one thing, sweetie,
I learnt a lot of things from those Mormons
And one of the things you’ll learn about me
Is that I’ve always been that spiritual anyway
We all are that spiritual when spring comes
But Mormons are like that all the year around.

She turned round round round very slow like spring coming
This year
She turned turned turned round and looked right into my eyes
Smiled
Kept on smiling
And I gave her back a mirroring copy
Those Mormons are making you look really-really handsome
And we kissed
This was yesterday
And I was getting cold feeling bored going down the road again
But spring was coming
And Mormons taught me that every season
Is a new reason to frown a smile.

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For Gabriel’s bio and other entries, click here and here.

*Contest entry*