Monday, February 22, 2016

Magic Hat - 2.22.16

                                                                                     
                                                                                           
                                                                                            Ricky’s 自制

“I’m cold most of the time. The sores won’t go away. ¡Que cansancio!”
21 February, 1995

I took a trip to Aunt Vivian’s place because she asked for a few things. She’s in the hospital fighting the good fight. Actually, we’re both fighting. Well, she’s fighting. On the trip, I discovered that I am truly my mother’s child. I picked up the things Viv asked for. One of the items, a gold rosary, was hidden away in the closet safe. It’s unusual because she usually isn’t religious. Perhaps it’s only unusual to me. Next to the safe I found a box, medium-sized storage, marked 1995. I’ve never seen it in the closet before. Viv is a very secretive person; or perhaps you’d call it extremely private. My mother’s genes kicked in and I opened the box to snoop. A manilla folder, a five books, a sweater, and a t-shirt. A Miami University sweater. The t-shirt has a pink triangle and the slogan “Silence = Death.” I smile because I know the historical heft of the t-shirt. I didn’t know Vivian was active in anything. I take out the manilla folder and books. Pushing the books aside, I open the manilla envelope and take out the papers, about 10 papers. Mostly hospital papers, but a New York “certificate of death.” I have never seen one of these before and it takes me a couple of seconds to register everything. “Ricardo Cruz y Luciano. Date: March 2, 1995. Time: 7:04am.” The hospital papers are too complicated, so I put everything back in the manilla envelope. So these aren’t Vivian’s, but Tío Ricky. This sort of changes the narrative I had of his life. I’m sort of angry at Vivian for keeping these from me, or actually everyone. I can already figure out what the books are, their Ricky’s diaries. I already I have one of them, which I thought was the only one. I open and begin reading through some of the entries. The dates vary from 1985, 1987, 1990, 1994, and 1995. I have the book from 1991-1992. They were happy entries, so I assume the rest are happy entries. I also assume that the 1995 book is probably not so happy. I open it and about thirty of I-don’t-know-150 pages are written. I turn to the end because I am most curious about Ricky’s last days. They are mostly poems and brief sentences. Some of it is in Spanish, and others are in English. I laugh at the entry, “Comí el sancocho, pero el sancocho me ‘sta comiendo.” I know I probably shouldn’t laugh at the last sentences of a dying man, but the humor is there. I remember his humor vividly: silly as fuck, but devastatingly charming. My aunt would say “the ladies swooned, only to discover he was pitching for their team, comprende?” 

The Spanish poems are beautiful. The Japanese have a name for these kinds of poems: 自制 (pronounced: Jee-say). In English, they are crudely translated as Death Poems, but the gracefulness is lost in that translation. Neruda’s “Only Death” is one. Emily Dickinson wrote a few, or more. The Japanese 自制 are more formulaic, however. Mishima has a famous one. To me 自制 are 自制. They’re the last creative breath a person has. I am not going to share Ricky’s poems here, but I will be willing to share them privately (just ask, I’ll have one with me). Vivian will probably kill me, but she’ll get over it. I decided to write my own 自制. It’s due. I wrote it in Spanish.

Morí hace cuatro años
pero todavía respiro.
Pedí un monje el ultimo día
me dijo en tibetano:
todo cambia
aparece y desaparece
pero nunca cambia nirvana.
No lo entendí
pero lo econtré en su sonrisa
Los doctores vinieron 
quitaron esa sonrisa
me dijeron de brujería
todo será bien 
me salvarían la vida
¡felicidades, héroes!
ahorra estoy aquí
con cuerpo asolado
muerto con meloncolía
sin mi nirvana
y con mala fortuna
sentando aquí
el monje ya muerto
contandote esto.

Ricky’s was more beautiful, more elegant. I surrender, but he didn’t. I don’t know how he did it. I recorded a couple of his poems to keep with me. They’re like instructions, but I don’t analyze poetry - I analyze Harold Bloom. As much as I want to understand him, I also want him to remain encrypted. I fear interpreting them will somehow ruin them. I will keep his poems with full ignorance, and I’ll keep my last memory of him: lanky, jovial, with his weak and raspy “cuidate, Luisito.” 


-Luis

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