Monthly Archives: May 2013

Favio is Dead.

A few days ago I took a break from writing to go eat at the restaurant on Entre Rios. The owner is Paraguayan, there is a  seventeen year old waitress who has the shield of a football team encrusted in silver hanging from a leather choker-collar, one dreadlock protruding from the neck nape as the rest of her hair is pinned up, her boyfriend sometimes is there to monitor her working conditions, stares with an evil eye when she serves me ever since a little social blunder I made in his presence not so long ago at which she at least had laughed.) Among the menu’s protagonists are merluza (trout or baby swordfish with mashed pumpkin,) different kinds of pastas, gnocchis—on a certain holiday one is supposed to eat gnocchis. Shrimp, calamares, chicken a la romana, raviolis with a sauce called “Il Principe di Napoli” are on the menu. The waitresses at times make me feel like Il Principe Di Napoli.

When eating the trout with my hands I wonder if it was fished out of one of the two subterranean rivers that pulsate under the city of Buenos Aires, whose above ground streets in most areas are veritable rivers of garbage that make Napoli look like a clean city. I like this city, but the Paris of Latin America is an elite fantasy, it is more Napoli of Latin America only with a much bigger and more aggressive citizenry.

It is winter, something like a cold day of Spring in Northern Europe, and the Andean Romans stagger along the sidewalks wearing exagerrated winter coats, a Russian would wear an extra t-shirt or a jumper. The man without legs and no crutches wears a big winter coat, he does some acrobating trick with his mouth and hands outside the glass, playing the match-stick girl from Andersen until the restaurant owner sends the football-hooligan-princess-with-one-dreadlock to give him a styrofoam with arroz con pollo.

That night it was almost empty—there was only an old man, from his features part Chinese part Guarani wearing his military cap and jacket from the Paraguayan army service, he stared at the television screen which was in turn trapped in his thick heavy glasses, his mouth buckled in a relentless grimace which was surely not a criticism of his asado meat simmering on a tiny metal furnace the waitress Melisa had set down. There was a table with old Napolitan looking men in jackets, one of them a fat son, bald, eating bits of lamb, his arms braceleted in silver and in tattoos.

From the tv set—always raging in this, my favorite restaurant—was an interview with Favio, a musician and singer I had never heard of before. Flavio, the caption read, would have been 75 today. Flavio had died.

From the tv set a song burst forth, he was a great Latin American romantic singer who had died, he had also been a virtuoso guitarist.

I watched at least four different sets of classic, immortal Favio. I was pleased to have encountered his music. In the end he was performing with a glittery colored turban, like an Orthodox Jewess. He sang about ”esa nina judia,” a Jewish, Sephardi girl of Buenos Aires, who he had been trying to make love to, to seduce, he sang of how her grandfather, a rabbi, threatened to ostracize her. I remembered having walked down the Once neighborhood, the Sephardi women to this day dress in a manner that would bring to mind medieval Andalucia or the lost Jewish neighborhoods of Morroccan cities where people spoke “Judezmo”–long, bizzarely patterened embroidered shirts and dresses of cotton or black long skirts, small embroidered and bejewelled sandals, black stockings (though many young portenas wear black stockings) Their wigs are poised in such a way to be actually arousing.

The Jewish girl was not the wife he had mentioned earlier.

The old footage of interviews and music videos were then interrupted by the breaking news.

“MAR DE PLATA–HOY—-HOMBRE SE AHOGO TRATANDO DE ECHAR LAS CENIZAS DE SU MUJER EN LA MAR” A man was trying to hurl the ashes of his wife from the trophy container into the sea of Mar de Plata (Sea of Silver, literally) but he slipped from the rocks and drowned.

It was the same day I got the news that my short story which is about seduction in Poland, titled “Goodbye Eurydycka” will be published in the forthcoming issue of Big Bridge , a great online literary journal for poetry and prose. Eurydycka is of course, Polish for Eurydice, who Orpheus was not supposed to chase back into the netherworld.

Favio appeared again, in the interview he said one of the greatest pleasures of his life was when he was able to fly to Bogota together with Sandro. Sandro was the singer beloved by all of Argentina’s house-wives, the called him the gypsy. My father had been crushed by him—after his Wagner concert he went to collect a check, and was in line with Sandro, who was complaining that they had stiffed him; Miguel Daniel had been very pleased with his high pay for the Wagner at Teatro Marseilles in Santa Fe, he felt the money was coming in and asked Sandro what they paid him—thinking he would be able to castrate the pop star; Sandro of course had been paid at least three times as many Australes.

The other day I heard from Augustin, the kiosko worker on Corrientes who sells erotic ghetto novels by a black writer from Quilmes and sings Peronist songs that Sandro is a Procer, a hero-founding-father not unlike Jose de San Marti. (I took a woman friend to the kiosk to show her the porno-detective books and for Augstin to sing to her, he interrogated us if we had been to the plaza de Mayo for Labor Day, I lied we had been, then he got smart and asked if Cristina had made an appearance and what she said, I answered I was there briefly, couldn’t see past the laborers, noisy with drum-din. Not sure if we got away clean.)

This was where I was, the night Favio died and a man chased after his wife’s ashes into a wave, Southern winter in the end of May, calamares with rice. It was a song celestial and cold that erupted from the old television set above the door.

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Today I put yellow flowers on the grave of a thief who needed love, this made me late for my appointment.

Today I know I offered flowers to the grave of a thief, a despised man who stole from the innocent and hard-earning.

Today left the train station on the way to visit a friend in Floreste in Buenos Aires. A lady wearing thick sunglasses despite the gray and dim sky gave wrong directions, saying I needed walk into the cemetary for a bus stop. I decided I must buy yellow roses for offerings if I were to pass through a cemetary and asked one of the flower-vendors at the stone gate glazed in the chilly Argentine winter (which occurs at the same time as summer in the Northern Hemisphere.) His apron was bloodied several colors, a blond man with sunken nose and gray eyes. There were only white and red roses, on sale for 5 pesos but I needed yellow.I found another flower that was yellow. Music played on a tinny radio, Di Sarli.

As I was purchasing the flowers, the same woman from before now ran towards me breathing hurriedly that she had sent me in the wrong direction, I did not need to enter the cemetary-city to hail the bus. I had already bought the flowers, now needed to give them to the dead–I looked for a burial place without a cross or lacking any Christian symbols, I violently and cruelly refuse any Christian piety.

There was one unmarked stone, with arid earth–the others all had carefully clipped hedges, pictures of the smiling old deceased with their pets, nightingales and puppy-dogs.

Today I know I offered flowers to the grave of a thief, a despised man who stole from the innocent and hard-earning.

 Leaning over to rest the yellow flowers, my cell-phone, wallet and sunglasses fell onto his dirt as if a magnetic wind with hooks had drawn them, they were sucked in by an arid and thirsty unseen Charibydis interested only in fleecing me. I picked up my

little jewels and gadgetries of convenience, I forgave him–I would not be so arrogant as to forgive him for his life of theft, why should I? Why try to redeem anyone, to correct a dead master’s art work? I forgave his dead magnetism for trying to greedily snap up my cellphone and wallet. He obviously didn’t get enough love or attention compared to the other graves with their fine trimmed hedges.

I walked away, paused for a moment of introspection, left. I was late for my appointment.

Mr Florero asked me where I am from when I asked directions on the way out.

I said Aruba, then had to explain that it is in the Caribbean, near Surinam, but that my family origins are from Eastern Europe–I left out the part about my dead father from Buenos Aires (and the article in the national newspaper Clarin by Laura Ramos about how I celebrated his death)

The plant-seller’s face lit up pleased, “where in Eastern Europe?”

“My mother was half Polish and half Siberian”

“Ah,” he nodded, “I am part Hungarian, part Czech, a little bit of German!”

“I can tell”

On the bus they were mostly Incan looking, Peruvian immigrants, a poor neighborhood, I exited and corn, maize sheaves were on sale on the mat of a street hawker, 4 ears for 10 pesos, a steal.

 (end blog post 1)


(blog post 2)

Why did I not tell the florero of my Argentinean father? It was more interesting in the end to hear his tongue searching for Czescho-slovak and Hungarian roots (does he know Czechoslovakia ceased to exist?)

This morning it all makes me think of this poem I like by Amiri Baraka about his experience of a journey to his native lands:

Notes For a Speech

African blues
does not know me. Their steps, in sands
of their own
land. A country
in black & white, newspapers
blown down pavements
of the world. Does
not feel
what I am.


in the dream, an oblique
suckling of nerve, the wind
throws up sand, eyes
are something locked in
hate, of hate, of hate, to
walk abroad, they conduct
their deaths apart
from my own. Those
heads, I call
my “people.”

(And who are they. People. To concern

myself, ugly man. Who
you, to concern
the white flat stomachs
of maidens, inside houses
dying. Black. Peeled moon
light on my fingers
move under
her clothes. Where
is her husband. Black
words throw up sand
to eyes, fingers of
their private dead. Whose
soul, eyes, in sand. My color
is not theirs. Lighter, white man
talk. They shy away. My own
dead souls, my, so called
people. Africa
is a foreign place. You are
as any other sad man here


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Journal publication of my poem Travel by KLM in the Acentos Review

I am pleased to announce that my poem Travel by KLM, about immigrating from Aruba to the Netherlands, is in the wonderful Acentos Review for their May anniversary issue. Acentos is online but also publishes print anthologies. Travel by KLM has also been translated into Dutch by Dutch musician, conductor and screenwriter Maria Thijssen. Read the journal.

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May 22, 2013 · 12:45 am

link “Stopover in Rome on the Way to Buenos Aires” by Arturo Desimone

link to the poem on the blog of The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Poetry Series, the poem will be in a forthcoming e-book of this magazine founded in Paris by Ian Ayres and Allen Ginsberg and recently resurrected in e-format.

“Stopover in Rome on the Way to Buenos Aires” by Arturo Desimone.

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POEM FOEM –An Arturap

(an Arturap)
American suburban,
a sympathetic character
as she’s  plain too
 kind of strong woman
drives a subaru/
with the hen chicken kids
in the back, drive-thru
vote for politician
who will resolve drive-bys
kick out latinos,
money to AIPAC,
tells her husband
this week we’re cutting down
on meat,
help environment,
hid your cigarette pack
neighbors complain
your guitar too loud,
cut out vagabond poetic crap,
be quiet, I am trying
to watch Dr Phil rap
Oh and Bob, the Community loves me more

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My nationality is cruelty.

This is my conclusion of todays philosophical and political sermons in the shower, the mumbling to myself in the kitchen, the negotiation with pensive demons, the transistors of shapely bronze in the hollows behind irremovable tonsil-flowers under my neck as I shave and try to define it, this is the conclusion of years of identity, of eating the lack of identity or the perceived lack of it, the geneological research, the glorious baroque waste of time over years.

My only nationality is cruelty.

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