Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Days (Tribute to Juan Parra del Riego)

The Days
By Dennis L. Siluk, Ed.D (Poet Laureate)
(Tribute to Juan Parra Riego)


All year, knowing you’re dead,
I’ve sat in two hard-pillowed chairs,
Looking out the windows, being sad
With human melancholy, trying to restart
Those days in which you lived your poetry—
(in translating, editing, and selecting your best),
Days when your youth like mine, felt the sun
Carried ambition, from earth to sky,
Ominous days, with inspiration to share;
I live them now, but feel yours in death.


Today, is like any day, I suppose
As you once knew, expected death,
As I do now. The sky is overcast,
(I hear the shuddering rain, the splash
As cars drive by, their engines alive)—
And in the dash, like a river off-course, now
This is my moment when air
Being most full of life and images,
Appears lifeless, no motion, now:
Land, river and sky, we merge, the
Splash is gone. And so is my sadness.
Everything is drowned out of me, but you
(so I can write this poetic tribute).
My memories emerge (with them), I’ve found
The days you lived, the key to your poetry;
The secret closet you hid as a poet.


I think of all you did, when you lived
(That is, all you wrote, and might have wrote
And done before death undid you…despair)
There was much promise in your youthful
Years--your wild reserve, the color of autumn leaves
In your Face, inspiring the wind, and woods
And the bare silence in the hummingbirds.

None had such promise then, not even
Cesar Vallejo, or Borges, not even Yeats,
Or Keats, Georg Trakl, or Pablo Neruda.
Your rhythm and rhyme, scapegrace charm,
Pattern and structure of sound, verse and meter,
Accentual-syllabic line, all gave motion
As if glazed in rain, falling hard to soft…with
Disarming grace, yes, oh yes, you were bold,
As Homer, building a wooden horse
To Deceive and then destroy Troy!
In the Age of Symbolism and Modernism.

It was, was it not, in your luckless blood?
That failure came only because all passion
Was taken away in mid-course? By Death!
You shrank to nothingness, but still you
Wrote your poetry, an hour before your death!
You lived beyond the gloomy boredom of regret.
You did not deject any love, the beat of your heart,
Was for Blanca Luz Brum, no cold fortune…

Your slow death, shaped your stare upon life
There was blood within that sightless stare,
But it made you one, made you look and wrote
Your poetry in stone, at the end, alone…


Your poetry has outlived you, and that sightless stare.
Your poetry Parra, has outlive that boat you rowed—
So long ago, in Montevideo and it will
Out live the painting that hung in your room
Where you sat by a table— the ultimate last hours
Before your death (with Blanca Luz and an amigo)…

I see the grief upon her youthful face, drunk
With loss, seeking some oblivious place, to hid in
Desolation, despondency, mouth open as if in horror,
Eyes staring, for the haunted hour is near, harrowing
Face, full of disgrace…for being helpless!
She holds hard onto her chair, legs half crossed,
Breathing slowly, she knows soon, what she must endure.


Blanca and Juan’s amigo, stood by him the hour
Of his humiliation, yet he did not turn upon them
In the last hours of the night—they in a sad self-
Loathing, Juan, concealing nothing,
He heard Blanch cry, “I am lost. But you are worse!”
Perhaps the dying do not own to their dominance.
But this night, the lights were lowered,
It was the later hour,
And then the lights went out,

then the dissipation of the night passed…

Everybody worn-out, utter destitution
And the two now knew, the world deprived!


Knowing, and having heard, read the bare fact
Of your death, the word lingers in my head--
Death in that haughty room,
Shut tight, from sky and cloud,
Only silent thoughts, cast from
Moment to moment, to illume later on
With those loved ones by your side

The hours you and I have now known,
Even though you’ve been dead over eighty-years,
Neither denounces my poem, tribute for you,
Nor pardons, my words, if they offend…
Like you, I have seen the moon’s light, glide
Upon, and over the sea’s tide, and the waves
Lost on the sandy shore, as they recede never
To succumb to them even when the dark has come;
I hope I am strong as you (when my death comes),
Although I cannot promise what I cannot give…

and now to your Surpassed fame, O’dark!
you have turned into light!

Written 12-24-2008 (Morning); Huancayo, Peru, No: 2533

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Kisses" a poem by Juan Parra de Riego, translated and edited by DL Siluk

(Madness before death: with commentary notes)

Note: All poems for this book were selected (or chosen with careful review) in August of 2007, except for “Kisses,” chosen, and added to this selection in, October, of 2008 for its extraordinary content, intensity, and external effects.

English Version

By Juan Parra del Riego
Translated and Edited by Dr. Dennis L. Siluk
And Rosa Peñaloza de Siluk (10-11-2008)

Sounds of doves kissing under the moon
you have left in my mouth.
Honeycombs with delirious and wild happiness
you have left in my mouth.
Red and pure hearts of children
you have left in my mouth.
Fields with its happiness of goats and bells
you have left in my mouth.
Your dreadful and blue paleness like my death
you have left in my mouth.

Notes: this extraordinary work (poem) “Kisses” chronicles the ensuing death march; he, Juan Perra was slowly undergoing, and may have been written prior to his last breaths. Much of his poetry was written the last year of his life (1925), and it clearly radiates out in this poem, “Kisses.”
In “Kisses” Juan Perra takes us through some painful moments, his increasingly strained body, and mind, devastatingly brings us into its madness itself. The reader is drawn into his intensity, that his insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as if going to a good movie. He writes—unknowing perhaps, the tragedy of life—the pure truth, if not for some (and surely for me), the happiness and madness in life itself, without pretense, before death. He talks to life itself, as if it was his mistress.

Spanish Version

Por Juan Parra del Riego

Sonidos de palomas besándose a la luna
me has dejado en la boca.
Panales de alegría delirante y salvaje
me has dejado en la boca.
Corazones de niños colorados y puros
me has dejado en la boca.
Campo con su alegría de chivos y campanas
me has dejado en la boca.
Tu palidez terrible y azul como mi muerte
me has dejado en la boca.