I would prefer to die ahead of you
but your decrepitude’s legendary.
My stolen boat I paddle out to sea
with rod and tackle—the tools of the trade—
but the monsters don’t approve my transcript
so piquant waves expel me like a sneeze.
I drink your coffee, I steal your girlfriend.
In the Carpathians I give you up
to the vampires nesting on their skewers.
Once I was willing to hear your drivel
but when you call, the spring leaves putrefy.
The government wants to give you a star
and I cannot abide that. Your pie stinks!
I would prefer that you be first to die.
1 For the full instructions to this assignment, see Nicano Parra’s antipoem “Algo por el estilo” antitranslated as “Something like that” in the collection Antipoems: How to Look Better and Feel Great, antitranslated by Liz Werner, New Directions, 2004, pp. 51-55.
Do you have a plan?
I have a plan.
Are there wings in it?
There are wings in it.
The Sangre de Cristos shrug their shoulders.
Now gold. Now black.
The Sangre de Cristos tilt and the lab tilts too.
Out falls the shepherd, the crone, the sleeping prince.
Do you have the lucky stone?
I have the lucky stone.
Do you know the sign to make with it?
I know the sign to make with it.
—with fork and knife—
tarmac’s vatic curves,
these lines will be difficult to straighten
when the lab tilts
like the Sangre de Cristos’ teeth,
but I do it, I make the sign.
The world gets another day.
Have you lost wax?
I’ve lost wax.
Have you hollowed stone?
I’ve hollowed stone.
There are voices there, you know,
saints and rams and cave dwellers,
the trash of centuries I collect
in a corner with a dustpan
I trip over, spilling everything together.
My candle the angels gave me flickers.
Visitors walk through me, a door
to thin air. I will creak, I will tussle
lightly the tour guide’s impertinent hair.
I’ve lost wax I can’t get back.
No one seems to notice.
That’ll be $24.95.
I sneeze in the gift shop.
You must never sneeze.
They’ll sweep you up,
they’ll spackle over you.
They’ll say I was a giant
come down from the hills
with my pack of wolves
to eat the moon.
Hey, that doesn’t sound half bad
even if it’s only half true.