Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Lisa Alvarado said she
knew all Johnny Flowers needed
to know was this, in the Gaelic:
Cad is feidir go deireanach gra
ann go dti go bhfuil nq realtai
nach mo.
He could find the accents
and translate what there was to know
to break up this fictional spell
and bring life back to poetry
that had nothing to do with names.

Lisa Alvarado said she
was born in Chicago and moved
around, listening, asking . . . and
learned Spanish, French, Italian,
Greek, Russian, Yiddish, and English
American style, Ladino,
and now Gaelic. This magpie was
nothing if not a true magpie.
Iago said, I am nothing
if not Criticall. Not Lisa:

She tells Juan to find his own names
and leave hers be. Ask Betsy lass
what to call me if you can’t think
of an imaginary name.
I would like to have my life back,
Johnny, I mean Juan. Give me back
my name. All you do is use names
belonging to the authentic
souls of the world and put them on
fictional figures who never

existed, and they never will . . .
Go see a priest. You do need one
to listen to your confession.
You took my name. Give it back.
Since you know only the anglais,
all you can say is poetry,
which doesn’t do anybody
any good in this very real
and cautionary existence
fraught with peril and naked skin

in deep winter of the world’s end,
I’d like a break, Juan, go call her,
Cathleen, invite her down to live
with you and Betsy happily
ever after. She knows Gaelic,
ask her what it means. A poem
is waiting, Juan. All you can do
must be done and not a moment
to waste, dear friend who has become
my bane. Not that I don’t like verse,

it’s the poetry puts me off
that can’t afford to tell the truth,
it has so much to lose if thrill
replaces thrall: Iago will
get his way, Othello murder
Desdemona, and jealous rage
be canonized as a genre
replacing tragedy, and kids
will no longer know what to do
but go off all those that dis you . . .

Juan read what she wrote. He showed it
to Betsy, who said he oughta
be ashamed, using her real name
the way he does. Go call Cathleen
and get her down here to translate
that Gaelic into everyday
English. Anglais, he corrected,
and she hied off to her own room,
and told him, Get out! through her door
as though she were the real madam.

(12 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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