Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poem for Thursday

From "Self-portrait"
By Nicanor Parra
Translated by D. Ohmans

Consider, boys,
this eaten-away tongue:
I teach in an obscure school,
I've lost my voice giving classes.
(After all or nothing
I put in 40 hours a week.)
How do you like my ragged face?
Truly to see me inspires sadness!
And what do you say of this nose rotting
from the dust of the flaking chalk.
On the question of eyes, at three meters
I don't recognize my own mother.
What will follow me? Nothing!
I have ruined myself giving classes:
The bad light, the sun,
the miserable poisonous moon.
And all, for what!
To gain some unforgivable bread,
hard like the face of the bourgeois
and with the smell and taste of blood.
Why were we born as men
if we must perish like animals!
From overwork, at times
I see strange shapes in the air,
I hear crazy voices,
laughter, criminal conversations.
Observe these hands
and these nails white as a ghost,
these few hairs that remain,
these infernal black wrinkles!
Nevertheless I was just like you,
young, full of beautiful ideals,
I slept mining the copper
and polishing the faces of the diamond:
Today they have me here
behind this uncomfortable podium,
brutalized by the monotony
of the 500 hours per week.


I have nothing worth reporting from Wednesday. It rained. The kids could neither go to the pool nor go play tennis/ride scooters/run around screaming someplace other than the basement. Adam's friend came over -- the one whose dad is in the hospital -- and though the mom swore he was over the 24-hour bug he had on Monday, he was coughing quite a bit, which made me pissed off because I had specifically told the mother that we are going out of town next week and I really, really cannot afford for any of us to get sick. The fact that she did not want to come inside when she came to pick him up because she is sick did not make me more sympathetic, particularly since she said the choir from Chess looked very silly.

Chess In Concert on PBS was the highlight of my day, even though I'm not a big fan of Idina Menzel as a singer. Yes, I know, sacrilege, but I don't actually love Rent, either -- yes, I know, more sacrilege -- and having heard Judy Kuhn sing that part from the original Broadway cast, it would be difficult for anyone to top that for me. (I am very fond of Elaine Paige from the album -- I know people either love her or hate her, I'm one of the one who loves her -- but the concert production was one that has "Someone Else's Story" and doesn't have Florence meeting her father and seemed like a mashup of the West End and Broadway versions of the story).

I suppose I had better confess that my other TV viewing today was an On Demand broadcast of You Don't Mess With the Zohan at the request of my kids, and I laughed through pretty much the whole thing. Sometimes I think I am turning into a teenage boy from being around them too much. Of course it has every stereotype ever perpetrated, plus Adam Sandler, so be forewarned. Given the subject matter, it's actually less offensive than I expected -- the villains are old rich white men and the rednecks they hire to do their dirty work, the Israelis and Palestinians are all about peace through partying together -- if you are a religious Jew or a religious Muslim, please avoid this movie at all costs -- and it takes for granted that the sexuality of older women is a good thing, even if a young Jewish man will choose a young Palestinian hottie over an older Jewish woman in the end.

Have a few more Mount Vernon spring photos from April:

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