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This piece is about 10 printed pages long. It is copyright © Omar Pérez and Kristin Dykstra and Jacket magazine 2008.
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Omar Pérez

Selections from «Heard about the fighting cat?» (Poems 1994–1998)

translated by Kristin Dykstra



[»] Some call it the Game…

I. Selections from «The Invocation of Basil»

[»] As her name Indiacates…
[»] The discontinuous
[»] Fear provides water in the absence of nobility
[»] Man, / Lord of transfugacity
[»] Animal who are you?
[»] Cerro Potrerillo
[»] Puerta Claro de Monte
[»] Winter’s end, / mountain’s ground
[»] Start of spring / on Corcovado
[»] Pilgrim of good manners
[»] One proverb and another
[»] The solemnity / of lowly thoughts
[»] María carries / rigging for nativity
[»] Congregations
[»] Autumn, very early in the morning
[»] Like ants on a virgin planet

II. Selections from «Offering of the rustic pig»  

[»] Kosen
[»] Buddha of Corcovado
[»] Body of the master
[»] At the end a boy
[»] End of the moral
[»] Sesshin

Some call it the Game…

Some call it the Game, others the Flower or the Mirror. All agree that it deals with an instrument for mutation, a fan that becomes sword, then branch — dry or covered in flowers — then a sudden flame, then silence. A fan for a journey.
      The creature arrives on the Island with the purpose of mutation, yet the waters of the amniotic ocean cause it to forget. The creature arrives on the Island without a purpose. Later it learns:  praxis, poeisis, Kyrie eleison, benedictus qui venit in nomine domini. I can’t give you anything but love baby, Il faut etre absolumment sincere, Cubanness is love, women are in charge.
      The word is there in the game, but it is not the game. Morality and the cyclical working of consciousness are there in the game, but they are not the game. Nation is a woman bearing corn, liberty one of the childish watchwords that the players exchange. The creature practices forgetting and its body catches flame with a memory, one that lances the Island and the water separating it from other islands. O, lightning spreading across the surface of the waters! O creature upright in the body of the lightning!
      “It’s a technique for sincerity that comprehends all techniques,” said the Man of the island mountain.
      “I want to learn it,” the Creature blurted out.
      “It’s easy. Anchor the improvisational. For example, a kiss. Improvise the anchored. For example, a mountain on an island. Strike a death blow to discernment.”
      “And my thoughts?” the Creature protested.
      “They’re worthless. Consider them insects on the bark of a growing tree. That is the sublimity of thought, if you want to know it.”
      “I have questions to answer,” the Creature reflected.
      “Don’t answer anything. Don’t react to proofs. Another Creature awaits you now. Show it what you have forgotten.”

I. The Invocation of Basil

As her name Indiacates

As her name Indiacates             she looks to you proudly
more obscure than jasmine    more perfumed than the air
if I had to race through the thousand worlds
I’d carry you on a cross under my tongue
best leave me here, not plant, nor rock, nor animal
silence quivers cavity of bell’s interior
to do something for the homeland         spell the blood relation
in flowers like moles across the cheek of the pariah
If I had to race through the thousand worlds
chromosome, mambo, the Milky Way
with license thought    Oh devout silence
guaguancó from Spain’s time without sin      conceived
lion of writing!, vegetal
it kills the desire to race through the thousand worlds
not a flower, not a beast, not a farming implement     I sleep
no longer divided into syllables         to die for the patria is
in their constellation the embryos
in their verdant house the spirits
and may it all be                  for nothing
and may it all be for nothing.

The discontinuous

Not being Adam but a distant successor
he was indifferent to names given to things:
“At noon he sprawls on a rectangle of earth
in the shadow of the phrase ‘I am the one I am’
that his lips throw as if shading a blurry tattoo
twelve hours later he thinks he’s the result
of the moon’s encounter with a rust-colored rooster.”

Fear provides water in the absence of nobility

Fear provides water in the absence of nobility
that’s as far as it goes.
It surfaces in jellyfish, the contraction of the trapezoids
and the self-assurance of wars.
Like the mantis it draws no attention with fine livery
or any irritating excretion;
like blood in the cavities, that which flows
neither pauses nor reveals itself.

Lord of transfugacity

Lichen confronting sun
transience confronting death:
man and lichen blink.

Animal who are you?

Animal who are you?  Man
is enigma to God,
as God to man.

Cerro Potrerillo

What are you God? what shade
is spiderweb in the mist?


Lunar face in noiseless quartz
madam Moon to sleepless children.

Puerta Claro de Monte

Sparrowhawk call on the riverbed
wild honeycomb evaded by men:
Christ gives of himself as the weed.

Winter’s end,
mountain’s ground

Saint Isidore, your flowers
blood subtle, spirit close.

Start of spring
on Corcovado

On the slope deprived of rain
sunflowers from salvation.

Pilgrim of good manners

                     Bois ton sang, Beaumanoire

His feet avoid neither thistle nor dung:
they carry him to the field of aloe
spiking up by an arid coastline.

One proverb and another

The offering of incense
and the vulture
meet on high.


Inhaling proverbs
the smoke they make when they burn.

The solemnity
of lowly thoughts

The solemnity of lowly thoughts
lacustrine sticks, mangrove
peeled by the abrasion of presence
and its garments.
Pericardium, you shelter lowly thoughts
like fishermen at a lake.
The shore, the rain the shoal of fish
are taken in by you. Later, they take me in.

María carries
rigging for nativity

María carries rigging for nativity
maiden of corn’s mystery
of basil’s mystery and of the mystery
Rosa María am I not your thorn?
they fall from you they fall they fall
they fall from you:
the thoughts. Is it suggestion, that?
I am your thorn. Above the thorn,
the storm and the lake settle in.
Above the lake, your oval of herbs settles in.
I sit down upon it. Only of herbs can I speak
you read me, you inhale me in the tracing of burnt grass
in the oval of herbs above the lake
in the storm above the thorn
in María’s garments for nativity
she approaches with the honey of pilgrims.


One fisherman alongside the other
one seagull alongside the other
seagulls over the fishermen.

Autumn, very early in the morning

Hint of glass in the call of the green
I love you, you say, as if the elegance
of the thing said were abundant of itself
in the promise. Is the sufficient thing
also abundant? Yes, when the thing said
answered us, quietly, in the grace
of a hand, a foot
enervated by the heights of love
same love of which the promise
spoke, and the glass, and the
lettuce that autumn raises
out of the earth.

Like ants on a virgin planet

thoughts at the start of winter.

II. Offering of the rustic pig


Listen, my friend, to the word of the King
Who saw him going through the streets? And he,
who did he see? He presented the man with a banana
and the disciple with a peach.
And who can say “I have finished”
who will be able to say “I drank.”
An empty school
an empty jar.


I’ll ask of the sailor
his skiff, his copper
his lantern.

Buddha of Corcovado

During the continuation of the drought
clean as the floor of the earth
straight as the shadow cast by the mantis.

Body of the master

What would be of me without my body?
of you without your body
body of learning
The Truth: succulent
          human flesh
Stomach: compassion
The transaction, how? and for whom?

At the end a boy

On your chest the fields of corn
seen by Icarus
embryo moving always toward victory
down the alley with no exit to eternity
At the end a boy!
you are the fly who flutters in the pyramid
you are also the pyramid.

End of the moral

Raising a cup of my favorite vinegar
here’s to the end; how can I contaminate it?
All appetite, is man
cigar after cigar
dances after dinner
contestatory ballads
Horizon, winter’s on its way out!


Not even the Buddhas escape mosquitos
What is there to eat? how do I sleep? why bother with all this?
The chapel guardian says
“I’m practically human.”

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