Ah.Me.RICH.Ah (Your Exchange Value) by Virginia Lucas
from Amé.RICA (Tu valor de cambio), translated by Jen Hofer

A note on notes: The inclusion of overmuch footnotes embedded in these translations—alongside and accompanying the footnotes Virginia herself embeds in her poems—is an experiment in thinking (aloud) through the translation process while making the translation. You can read more about that process, that thinking, and my use of notes, in a piece I wrote for the Poetry Foundation blog Harriet.


Primera escena (luz única: enfoco)

Acercarme a tu lujuria: escapar a.cercar ese pecado tan escrito como pecado ese temblarme la gana de sentirte sobre vos, sobrevo(s) armé signo cerca.armé a las ganas de ta ta ta tá
En cinco falos lubricados hacia ese puntobusqué that its the point (aunque solo quiero, una gana) la ganancia de tu diestra maniobra, de zozobra
avizora –sin aviso, ora la imagen, imanta y
cae: moja la lámina, lamina como vaca de ubre abierta como caballo con sombrero que quiere besar y sorprende niña pobre por la calle (y hay sonrisa, bello espectáculo asalta). Animarme a que abras, cambiar el rol, salirme de mi mascu.linidad: másculá masculla!
Si líneadesequi.librada anima con la itinerancia: otra ríspida disciplina esdrújula,
monocorde evento de lo otro trama, tr.ama
tr. tr.tr. purrum purrum trump Armada urdida, transitiva tramada, años con mi mamá ocuparon ese espacio, siglos de mi padre sentenciaron mi goce (de sentirte mujer y desearte en mi) y la culpábila de hablar pabila goce (sí osé: imaginarte en un cuarto de hotel desnuda rubia como solo tu abuela rusa pudo darte la rusa, irradiada brillo a la melena leonina, (de tu entrepierna: se escapó la imagen líquida colgada del lago RU.VHS en VHS) y cuentaontanar las letras interrumpidas por este deseo de vos en flor de cámara digital de la a a rrrregión guión
(como inconsciente fémina laminada, abiera ahora absorta rela mida(s):
ta ta ta tá a la que dio el la en torpe tropo de rey aúreo)
sobrecargo, saturas

y no hay osadía
toda primera escena
luz única, hecho: god is a dog
God is
(cierto derecho, ilusión)
God me echó.
Mi angustia es burguesa


First Scene (single light: I focus)

Closing in on your lust: escaping en.closing that so-written sin as sin that quivering-in-me desire
to feel you atop you, (a)topyou singing sign clo.sing.in1 around my desires to ta ta ta tá
In five lubricated phalluses toward that pointIsought que es el punto (though I only want, one desire)
the take from your right-on handiwork, of twitching
watching —without warning, now the image, magnetize and
fall: wet the laminate, laminate like a cow with udder open like a horse with a hat who wants
to kiss and surprise the poor girl on the street (and there is a smile, beautiful spectacle assaults).To give it my all to open you, to change roles, slip out of my mascu.linity: más.ass moreasscue cuemurmur!
If desequi.libriated.line animates with the itinerancy: another rough dactylic discipline
monotone event of what is other story, ama.(s)tory
tr. tr.tr. purrum purrum trump warped Armada plotted, transitive plot weft, years with my mom occupied that space, centuries of my father sentenced my joy (in feeling you woman and desiring you in me) and the wicked-wick-wickedness2 of speaking woman-wick joy (I did dare: to imagine you in a hotel room naked blonde like only your Russian grandmother could make you Russian, irradiated glow to a leonine mane, (of what’s between your legs: the liquid image escaped hanging from the lake RU.VHS on VHS) and to springsourcerecount the letters
interrupted by this desire for you in the flower of the digital camera of the a a rrrregion script
(as unconscious femina laminated, ould’ave now absorbed licked all over again rela mida(s)3:
ta ta ta tá to she who gave the la in inept trope of aureate king)
I overdo, you saturate

and there is no audacity
any first scene
single light, done: god is a dog (in English)4
God is
(a certain right, illusion)
God threw me out.
My anguish is bourgeois


NECRÓPOLIS (sección municipal):
A tu retrato perdido en algún cementerio de Paysandú5

A tu retrato perdido en algún cementerio de Paysandú
A veces cuando veo a las gallinas extraño a mi abuela me dijeron que la abuela murió
pero a veces, cuando veo a las gallinas extraño a la abuela.
Me dijeron que el duelo es un proceso sin tiempo, es un proceso de los muertos metidos en su lenguaje. Llevo algunos duelos conmigo como caramelos
o cigarrillos los llevo, pero eso.
A veces se mantienen, a veces el aumento no lo permito, reventaría. Escribo
que la abuela criaba gallinas una familia de gallinas
tenía cuando vivía y la podía ver. Ahora cuando veo a las gallinas veo a la abuela
Como dejar abandonada la tierra
y viajar y viajar
a ||| |||||||| ||
un espacio representado
Otra siesta del martes
La abuela mueve el pelo sacudiendo su risa Anda en moto y juega a la quiniela
Hoy juega a la quiniela,
Yo tengo 12 años
la miro

mis realidades son como las de este niño en el pueblo, cortitas, como mi percepción de él como mis caramelos

afuera del pueblo está la playa
y muy cerca de la playa, la ciudad
dice el niño -que nunca salió,
de ser niño ni del pueblo:

quisiera escribir mi epitafio
“estaba bien quise estar mejor pero aquí estoy” Pero el niño sabrá lo que es seguro
escribirá epitafios, enterrará algunos muertos, con otros
saldrá a pasear, le dirán que lo quieren, que algún día lo dejarán, en paz.

Pero nadie valora un muerto, ni mucho menos mi abuela.


NECROPOLIS (municipal zone):
To your portrait lost in some cemetery in Paysandú6

Sometimes when I see hens I miss my abuela they told me my abuela died
but sometimes, when I see hens I miss my abuela.
They told me that grief is a process outside time, it’s a process of the dead embedded
in their own language. I carry a number of griefs with me like candies
or cigarettes I carry them, just that.
Sometimes they remain there, sometimes I don’t allow for any increase, I’d explode. I write
that my abuela raised hens a family of hens
she had when she was alive and I could see her. Now when I see hens I see my abuela
Like leaving the land behind
and traveling and traveling
to |||| |||||||| ||
an empty space represented
Another Tuesday nap
My abuela moves her hair shaking out her laughter She rides a motorcycle and plays the numbers
Today she’s playing the numbers,
I’m 12 years old
I watch her

my realities are like those of this niño in the pueblo, super short, like my perception of him like my candies

outside the pueblo is the beach
and very near the beach, the city
the niño says—who never got out,
of being a niño nor from the pueblo:

I’d like to write my epitaph
“it was okay I wanted to be better but here I am” But the niño would know what’s certain
he’d write epitaphs, bury some of the dead, with others
he’d go out for a stroll, they’d tell him they love him, that one day they’ll leave him, in peace.

But no one values a dead person, and much less my abuela.

  1. 1. In the first line of this poem, Virginia alchemizes the verb “acercar” (to come close or get near) into “a.cercar” (to fence or corral or enclose). There’s a whole other thing going on with the “a” there (a kind of charge—¡a cercar!—i/you/we/they/person-of-indeterminate-pronoun shall fence in!) but that is perhaps a different topic for a different note in a different version of this book. In the second line of the poem, armé (I assembled or built or made) transforms into cerca.armé (nearby I assembled and simultaneously fence me in, corral me). Earlier in the book, the name Mallarmé shimmies into the phrase Mall.arm’e, a version (poorly assembled) of mal.armé, or I built/assembled it poorly, in a bad way. The moments or nodes of language of which the poem is assembled mass up without coming together neatly. The poem is a mass, a morass, a metastasis arrowing toward our meta stasis, a stubbornly immoveable and malignant status quo in which every word, every idea needs radically to be taken apart and perhaps not reassembled at all. Perhaps made into an arm that can somehow transform weapon into body part, tool of destruction into organ of living molecular charge. These mis-assembled metastatic verb alchemies manifest two or more things at once. In the world of my VirginiaLucasian English, where two or more things at once are being assembled and corralled in collided verbal phrases, we must sing signs rather than building them so as to manifest the enclosing to which they are subject. When I mentioned to Virginia that I’d be writing a note arguing (or “arguing”) that singing and assembling are the same thing in the Lucasian poem-world, she laughed and said that “cantar” and “armar” have the same tonality in music, and that my version turns into a sort of annotation around a recital, around how to read, how to employ the best partitura—where reading is both score and (harmonically, via “partir”) departure or division: something scored and then divided along that line. I like the way singing and assembling lap up against one another, as Virgina’s reaction transports me to the aureate moment later in the poem where the “la” of the solfege scale becomes the mouth-opener of “lamida,” the feminine past participle of the verb “lamer,” to lick. (trans. note) — Return to poem
  2. 2. Virginia writes me: “culpábila… I think it works for me partly as pabila, and so, they intermingled, culpable, and pabila. Pabila doesn’t exist in Spanish either (like culpábila). Pabilo exists, a masculine word or better said, a word gendered masculine. Pabila would be a reference to the pabilo, the wick, to creating a glow or light, to that part of the candle that is made of string and then is lit, and together with the wax makes light. But culpábila, here you’ll see that it’s precisely a reference to a supposed woman, who we see lights up, that is, she lights up, or is identified, with something that indicates her guilt, yes?” (trans. note) — Return to poem
  3. 3. Re and la, in Spanish as in English, are notes on the solfege scale. In both languages, “re” is used as a prefix to mean “again.” In Spanish, “re” the note or the prefix can be homophonically or harmonically heard as the word rey, or king: King Midas thus appears in this line, invoking the idea of touching or rubbing something until it glows like gold or literally turns to gold (molten-soft glow-brilliant liquid). Lamida is the feminine past participle of the verb “lamer,” to lick. The Midas touch here figures as the lover’s tongue trilling her beloved to saturation. (trans. note) — Return to poem
  4. 4. God and dog do not palindrome in Spanish, where dios es perro or dios es.pero or I wait for god the father (dios es.pére) or god is an endless wait (espero) or a but (pero), the exception to everything. (trans. note) — Return to poem
  5. 5. Y a la madre de mi abuelo, muerta y perdida por mi abuelo que no le pagó el panteón, a ella que cuando fue a buscarla no la encontró. — Return to poem
  6. 6. And to my abuelo’s mother, dead and lost because my abuelo didn’t pay for her plot at the cemetery, to the one who, when she went to look for her, didn’t find her. — Return to poem