Issue 14: Juan Diego Otero
I am interested by the sound of people approaching
from a significant distance,
something feral about them right
before deploying the fields of mutual
acknowledgment, a flutter
in the quality of unused space, an
awkwardness that lingers on the furniture
of a room when suddenly you are not alone with it anymore
and every object has to pretend to be there for whoever
lays an eye or a hand on them, somehow underplaying
our previous agreement.
I am interested in honesty. Not
out of candor or moral concern,
lately, I've been interested. Really,
no implications, as trivial and crude
as my interest for the word fascination. Fascio meaning
to bewitch, or to glare with envy, and hence, the penis, because
an image of it was hung around the necks of children
to guard them from witchcraft. Honest to god.
I am interested but haven't crossed
my first honest line. I guess it's not
the medium, yet remains as
valid an excuse as any other
to seem interested,
in awe before the building blocks.
I am interested in honesty and
I'm still second-guessing that
preposition, to lie on it seems
equally comforting, a warm surface beneath my belly.
Can't say I'm sure of how it goes
in spanish either. I am interested by and by.
The first sight of my father's armpits. Honestly.
Closest we've gotten to poetic rapture is that instant
of silence after you've told a joke
and you can't really tell whether it's gonna land.
A feeling, strung with too many knots:
not to nod, despite consent,
nor for the sake of disagreement
which has fallen out of fashion along with
the faith in umbrellas and the healing
properties of quartz
and words. And poets, we love them but
now and then we need assurance
that this love of language is anything
other than love for the
sound of their own voice. And now
and then we seem to need that distinction
although we know it's just a matter of scale:
their voices, like any voice, a bubble-burst
below the surface, heard or unheard, they all
come up, as one, under the sky. I started
drinking unwittingly now
I know I was celebrating
the departure of all fish and excuses
for drinking and the rest. Was startled
by the realization, choked a bit
on it, then swallowed that
crutch back down
sideways. Still in shock.
I can't remember the last time
I was truly surprised.
To go about in social life without
hyperbole has proven impracticable,
and I'm sorry to death.
Floating underwater, I am terrified
by the noise of propeller-blades.
The scene has been going on for the best part of this decade
and there is no sign of it reaching a climax anytime soon. Steady
as she goes, grazing every continent with both her flanks,
leaving no face unturned.
I need to stop apologizing before asking for help. My father
finds it easier to empathize with dogs than
people, like Schopenhauer, but in a less doctrinal way and, this
I can only guess, addressing them with way cornier baby-talk.
The early european vivisectionists felt compelled
to sever the vocal cords of the dogs whose living
anatomy they explored. I am fascinated by honesty.
Wavelengths only convey color
by comparison. I am best entertained
by that ever-present montage
where the hero is trapped
in a loop of learning/training/enduring until
the all-consuming soundtrack finally stops
and our protagonist is ready to reap
the fruits of that editing ordeal.
I am interested in compassion.
The sight of non-people working hard.
Their sweat is not my poison, my poison
is my poison. But this is a public domain,
lost objects belong
to none, and all
are allowed to mourn their loss
and rejoice at the chance of being
shredded by propeller-blades,
before the first bubble nucleation,
under the surface, no witnesses.
We would have passed unnoticed
if it weren't for that damn star.
I'm afraid I have offended somefield,
a structure, for I've been speaking lightly
of giants, wherever they fit and over
tables where they definitely don't
I've been speaking of my own death light
like a blown-up blowfish and as the tongue
inside tears flesh from bone the air flows out
returning sharpness to the features of its face,
the fish face of death, looks tasty, wakes hunger:
a contradiction that fulfills
the first condition of this spell.
Given the coordinates above
define the order of coexisting voices,
a minimum distance for them not
to hear one another.
The goal is to write space. I was told
that my great-grandfather, when interrupted
in his reading by a playing child, would
grumble “oh Herod”, and continue.
A thread of electricity sticking
out from the tip of my sacrum bone
just enough to pinch and pull
my complete spinal cord out
and let it float, all nerves spread wide
in an extent beyond my own, it ain’t
such a wingless thing, after all my
central nervous s my c n system. Each
gyrus of the brain unraveled as
freely rotating eyeballs follow the
medusa dance of axons fanning by, not
a configuration that I can't reverse
but it's gonna take a while
till I can turn around and tell
you what I pulled from my ass.
When was the last time you smelled a priest?
As soon as we unwrapped the head it started talking,
For instance, this room in which we presently
find ourselves. This room's corners taken out of context,
each corner a negative cornerstone for a room of their own,
hidden, sheltered from this noise, and yet plagued
with entities that truly
understand what it is
we here are presently doing. Orange entities
so strange they actually get it, every bit of
information and awe. Triggering the
subtle peristaltic movements which
will presently push us
out of this room gasping
for more tangible constraints.
of the muscles from all
the prisoners of the world.
breaks kaleidoscopic. Or of a man that feeds
the same beast for decades always
on the side of the mountain last touched by the sun
feeds it from his bare hand, fingers arched out
as you would a horse for, thought toothless, its gums
could taint your skin forever. The beast, he figures, came about
as an amalgamation of obsolete ATMs left cashless but
with enough reserves of worship to cluster into this
dubiously gentle behemoth. Admittedly, summoning
animals is cheating but everything is
clearer with a fish analogy, like black holes
and reality and teach a man to fish.
The moral is to take advice only
from the death-row facility's cook.
Juan Diego Otero (Bucaramanga, 1987) writes, translates, and studies in Berlin. He has published articles about the works of Fabio Morabito and Juan Rulfo, as well as his own poems in Spanish and English. A collection of the latter appears in VierSome 003, by Veer Books.