Monday, January 23, 2006

Three Poems in the Loneliness of Columbia University by Jorge Oliva

1 Fable of the Castaway who Turned into an Ant

He says that he was sinking in
in the high night of Manhattan,
that he was bitten
by the most ferocious nostalgia,
the greatest loneliness,
that he threw himself sleepless on the sofa,
he opened at random a guidebook to astronomy
and read:

‘. . . star NP-532, one of the smallest
of the Crab constellation, generates fifteen hundred times
the energy of all the terrestrial installations . . .’

Translated by A. C. Tucker

I opened another star today.

It said, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look at fear in the eye.

You are able to say to yourself, 'I've lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'

You must do all things you think you cannot do."

The 24 hours 'Larger Than Life' art competition held at Sentosa was the best competition I have ever taken part in.

The three of us painting for 22 hours straight without eating or sleeping, a thousand variety of colours running askew all over the monstrous canvas, twisting and turning and streaking our hands and our legs, hearing over and over and over again the stupid advertisement for CineMania's virtual rides, "Yea, you know, it was cool! Say no to drugs but man, you gotta say yes to this one... The experience that changes reality to fantasy and fantasy to reality, CineMania..." (darnit I want to take the rides, I've been brainwashed!), realizing to my disbelief that I'm the only one who can hear the repetitive advertisement, taking crap from a mentally unstable woman in red who tells us that vegetarians win everything while chicken rice eaters lose because we're all chicken feet (hard to explain the nonsense of this scenario), telling her "We're artistic, we don't believe in superstitions" and watching her walk off in defeat, losing our sanity to the beatings of the seriously fucked up english music and rap, as Shi Wei trods around in my sandals trying to tape her sandals back together with muskin tape with the same artistic ferocity displayed when painting, Wei Lian screaming for somebody anybody to save the strawberries while earnestly trying to catch at least at least one shooting star in sight as she tossess and turns trying to sleep, laughing as Shi Wei and Mrs Ng gossips about a competitor who slaps on a facial mask and does everything you never would have thought could possibly be done outdoors in Sentosa, churning out imaginative ways of killing the DJ with our variety of palette knives and murderous intentions, plan A being to tell him with dead solemnity that the music affects the psychological serenity of the vegetarian Shi Wei who, excuse me, definitely needs her inner peace to meditate okay, sucked in between that black hole of drowsiness and alertness- caught in the middle, watching with incredulity the exeggerated speed Wei Lian asserts the instance she hears songs by Evanescence, grabbing her sleeve and losing my sight to the black darkness of the night (or morning?) while trying to find our way to the toilet, gobbling bread with tuna down for breakfast with fingers smeared with paint for that additional and exciting poisonous touch of toxic, forcing the shyness out of Wei Lian as she nervously gives her 12 seconds long speech to the Channel 8 newscaster about the beauty of our art piece, suddenly declared "bold" by strangers who think we're geniuses (we know better), spilling out last minute literature-worthy elaborations and explainations to the three judges about the symbolic meanings behind our painting and inspirations induced by nature and Van Gogh, and finally, falling, fainting, on the bus on our way back to school.

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