Poetry About History In The Open Eyes Of The Dead

By José ‘The Volcano’ Figueira Pinto (feat. Jaime Sabines)

“There is a strange, lustrous sheen!
Film of air in the motionless pupil,
shadowy veil, tender light.”

—Jaime Sabines

From an old box of matches comes a young man with the attitude of a leader, but dressed in a dirty yellow robe. Barefoot and disoriented, as if he’s just awakened out of an induced coma, the confused young man observes a hideous nail on his right foot. He does not know why he does it, but he stares at the rotten nail on his rancid foot for thirty-three minutes. He does not remember being alive and he does not know why his nail is in that state, he does not remember anything about his path. But he feels very tired. The young man with the attitude of a leader is brilliant, he knows that he was educated, but he does not know anything about what has happened to him.

Puzzled, he begins to walk. Looking around him he notices that he is stepping on a sandy wet concrete floor. His eyesight is hardened. He spits into his hands. He closes his eyes and smears saliva onto his eyelids. Opening them, he is abruptly swept away by waves of confinement, wave after wave; he does not have time to react. 

In the midst of the hustle and bustle, bathed in blood and alarmed, he tries to take refuge between the holes of a confinement to avoid a fatal impact. Wave after wave, one after another, he finds himself spinning inside the enclosure like a washing machine, out of control. He is desperate, nauseated, but resists the urge to vomit. Overwhelmed by the violent movement of the waves, he feels that he has no escape, and that if he dared to leave the confinement he would be a dead man.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the waves cease, it is so sudden that, instead of being grateful, the young man with the attitude of a leader becomes confused by the resounding change. He finally vomits, and his crop lands on top of his rancid right foot with the rotten toenail, a real disgust. From the outskirts of time, a puppeteer with a bull's head and copper horns comes to lift the confinement of the young man with the attitude of a leader, to place him on the bricks of a wall that seems to have no end. A monstrously giant wall with temporary foundations, which as they deteriorate are replaced by the bricks of the next turn, pulverizing all traces of the old base. 

Love keeps vigil in the open eyes
Of dead lovers.
They are like a coveted,
Impenetrable, half-open door.

The young man with the attitude of a leader is now there, in the middle of the wall. The puppeteer has sealed him inside the brick with the wet cement that reaches the infinity of his pupil.

This poor man now waits, locked in absolute darkness, waiting for his turn to pulverize and to be pulverized. Time passes and the young man with the attitude of a leader does not wait, he is optimistic, he has the conviction that he is going to get out of confinement, that he is going to live to the fullest, and that the effort will be worth it. He gets used to the dark, but he doesn't accept it. He hits the walls in hopes of something unexpected. He screams for help and not even the echo responds. 

Without the notion of time, he begins to believe that someone is listening. He begins to speak as if that someone were next to him, the poor man. The young man with the attitude of a leader comes to himself when he hears the thunder of the bricks, it was like a tremor inside an elevator, as if a floor were lowered with a single blow. He takes off his dirty yellow robe stained with his blood and is completely naked.

He resigns himself in fact, he has absolutely nothing at hand to help him find a way out, he surrenders, he does not want to live, but not enough to want to die. The bricks continue to thunder, and the turbulence in its four walls every thirty-three minutes. He already seems normal, very normal. He is hungry, there is nothing in the brick that can feed him, but being malnourished is not an option with his current vitality. He looks at the dry vomit on the floor, the parts of it that did not fall on top of his right foot. Indignant and with incalculable disgust, he smears the vomit on the floor with his index finger and sucks the vomit paste. He rolls his eyes, chokes, cannot swallow it, and vomits again, this time, a mixture of clots with a yellowish liquid.

He feels bad, he is trembling, the blood vessels in his eyes are bursting, and now he sees his hands with eyes that look like the devil himself. The young man panics, and the confinement begins to feel to him like the suffocation one would feel if being helplessly buried by a pillow on the face. The stress and panic take him to a climax of madness. He screams with a high pitched voice. He falls to the ground, plucks his hair, urinates, and shits all over himself. It is a horrendous and surreal scene. In the middle of the crisis, the young man with the attitude of a caudillo bleeding from the capillaries in his head gets up and runs desperately towards the wall in a suicidal act, he bends his ankles at the same time, something very rare. He slips from the mix of S's on the ground and the impact stops his attempts, for thirty-three minutes.

He closes and opens his eyes, a demonic and desolate gaze. He doesn't have the energy to compose himself. The bricks pain him, but he doesn't care, he just probes around her with his pupils and takes a deep breath. He cannot walk, his ankles are swollen and supporting his own weight is practically impossible. The pain is abysmal. He crawls towards the wall slowly, like a snail with a cracked shell, tired and wasted. As he lies down, he notices that the brick is cracking, and a dust is falling from the ceiling. He is excited and with what little strength he has left he prepares to leave confinement and solitude. Since he cannot get up, he lies leaning against the wall, to roll out when the brick collapses, it is a matter of seconds. Everything is about to end, the brick collapses and the young man with the attitude of a leader closes his eyes and with a war cry is completely crushed by the brick of the next turn. The puppeteer cleans the debris, and the blood. It was not a matter of seconds, it was a closing without opening the eyes. There is no trace of the young man with the attitude of a caudillo, nor canonical expression of such complexity.

Why does death defer lovers, entomb
them in a place of silence like the earth?
What is it about the weeping light
In the water of the eye—in that wasting
Meniscus of trembling glass?

Damn the need for novelty and synthesis articulated by the rebellion of the young man with the attitude of a leader. Another rebellious gorilla. Damn the slavery that gave him the freedom to fight for posterity, and damn the freedom that enslaved him to tragedy and oblivion. Damn his death and his struggle to be without knowing what it means to be knowing that he didn't know what it means. Now I have to continue the life of a dead person. I am the only one who remembers it, and now you know one more story of a life with an announced death. 

Whoever you are, the young man with the attitude of a caudillo must hurt you, because in our mix of classes, and classes of men, we are fighting with the conviction that we are going to get out of confinement, that we are going to live fully, and that the effort will be worth it. 

Now I have to continue the life of a dead person and the death of my life. I already find myself hearing voices and although no one is listening, I feel that someone is watching me, someone who from his matchbox understands that I want to be different, and that desire makes me so common that I suppose that to be different I have to be completely happy in my confinement.

Thirty-three minutes will pass and the noise will return to give me an injection of uncertainty, I will go down a floor and although you and I know our end, I am still here with the certainty that I am going to die. But not yet. I am going to disappear first. But not yet. And somehow I will be surprised with death, with certainty. 

The young man with the attitude of a leader died before me, and I— who thought we were going to die at the same time—my imagination failed me. I wanted to talk about me without mentioning me, I wanted to talk about you, us, everyone. But I guess limited by what I have not seen, and pushed by what is allowed in the confinement, I could only speak of my packed existence. I am young, I did everything I had to do except what I wanted to do out of fear of tragedy and oblivion, out of fear of the slavery of freedom.

However, I was always awake. I slept very little during my old age. I did not save much energy for my youth, I tried everything but nothing. Perhaps if it were done exactly it would not be in your mind and you, whoever you are, would not be disgusted. You are going to die and you should not be offended because I tell you in a way so direct. You are going to die, do not be offended, because if you face the fact that you are going to die perhaps, then, you will embrace your packed existence with romance and not with the truth. You will be happy with your space and not with that of others. 

I am not resigned, I am busy, but not distracted. I am naked and that is why I am alive. I am going to disappear. But not yet. There is little left, the prison that guards my consciousness knows it and the confinement that my consciousness projects understands it.

Guardian angels took them to their breasts;
In their gaze, they breathed their last,
died of their own veins.
Those eyes are like stones
left by a blind hand on the face.

I do not know anything about the outside, neither of those above nor of those below, but I am still the king, like you, what I am not making up, just like the life and death of the young man with an attitude of caudillo, to convince me that there are libertarian people, to contradict me, and to take me seriously. I am so different that I am just like you! I am dying, my eyes look like the devil himself. I told you my shame with pride and my pride with great shame, I am so close that now I realize that I did not do what I should have done: kill myself in the attempt to not vent about the death of the young man with the attitude of a leader. 

Now, the brick is cracking, and a dust begins to fall from the ceiling. It is my turn, my closing without opening my eyes, my battle cry under the weight of life.

Death appears before me as the healing of a sick person, like seeing the sunrise after a depression, as poetry instead of history, as imagination instead of action, to tame the anguish of my soul with its perfection, to isolate myself from wisdom, which comes from past practices, from a shared possession unknown to me. I and my inadequacies, surely you wonder why I had the attitude of a caudillo. It is because I believe that human aspiration is enough to achieve magnificence, because we all want to be part of royalty, of transcendence. Those who say that it is not, say so because they have not had the opportunity to have power. Poverty doesn't make you humble, it makes you unpredictable. But now, as I sit with eternal peace, I understand that I was not strong enough to save myself from my attitude, because I am stronger than me.

The young man with the attitude of a leader, when I remove his mask, he is nothing more than a giant dwarf, that is what I am, and that is what you are, a great little thing. I don't think you have realized that thirty-three minutes have passed since my trip, that is, I should already be dead, and I am. But why am I still here? Why does the story continue if it's already over? Damn forget me! ¿! have you come to immortalize me !? To give continuity to my spirit !? Forget me! Kill me! Pretend you didn't know me! Get me off your brick! Detach me! Take me out of you because I want to rest! When you think about me, you are half digging me up, leaving me in the open to millions of waves of confinements.

Mystery spirits them away.
Ah, the beguiling sweetness
in the casket of the air that entombs them!

I know you are going to distort me, and those who come after you are going to make me a stranger, a torment, a dogma, a puppeteer. When you take a walk on your brick try not to remember me, do not wake me, so maybe I will die with you after your decays of every thirty-three minutes. Live your chains between yesterday and tomorrow. Make sure your brick is better than mine in all circumstances. If you can not think of me in your days, maybe I can be a corpse shelved away and who goes unnoticed among the undead that formed you. Disregard me to see if you can, but if I accidentally come to your thoughts then we are in trouble, if you cannot control it then you will have to die for me to have my end. ☗

José Figueira Pinto, formerly of Venezuela, is a writer, reader, and school administrator in Turkey.