Oscar

  Those thugs who came from Puebla all the way from the frontier to screw the Nuyoricans from the Bronx because you know those girls and three days later you take them to bed between morning and night all the way to Hollywood like Rita Moreno singing I want to be in America docudrama and reality show Benicio at the border in the middle of the desert because we Mexicans were made to suffer in this world they say the old man said in the interview and all of those Mex-York guys are working here twenty hours a day without benefits without medical insurance like silent cameras we're all maids came here by raft with no money house or food willing to do anything there's the neighbor I can see him from the window cleaning his patio like mad his patio that was already clean and has always been clean and three days ago they took robbed stole the Oscar I think the same one that decorated the middle of the University of Puerto Rico theater present and future genocide without sorrow or glory humiliated beings we will be I have to paint my nails hem my skirt a catastrophe robbing an Oscar considering how difficult it is for someone in your country to win one it's not like they sell a whole pile of them for a few cents because the Chinese don't sell Oscars in the trains with batteries and yoyos the Haitians who live on the island don't go around selling Oscars like Swarovski crystal in 99 cent suitcases the crystal figurines are very tiny and they drench the glamour of dresses a dress with that crystal is worth a fortune but an Oscar is worth a lot more it's honor dignity self esteem that is always so low now who is she what does she do how well connected is she it's not like one is a protégée has a mentor somewhere they don't exist one has been lucky that's all talent and husbands help and connections too why not it's like making sculptures of scenes from daily life there in the distance at the top of that hill a thatched hut in that huge ranch he swore eternal love he told me that his wife was going to die soon she has cancer "plus I don't love her" it was night and the blackened trees created a silver frame for the moon the rays from that cold ball fell vertically onto the ranch so he threw me onto the ground onto the cold earth and he kept saying don't you worry I'm going to leave her and from pure joy you cover a kitchen with little crystal balls with rhinestones little lights little stars like Liza Lou the artist from California who covers everything oilcloth rugs hammers mops brooms dishwashing liquid the pills to calm nerves because he's going to leave her very soon Oh my GOD cherubs flying around my shoulders Max Factor like a prophet from the times when it promised that Liz's makeup in Cleopatra would outlast the millennium let's go let's go it's getting late I want to see what the news has to say about the robbery who took that gadget they should cut off his fingers as simple as that one by one taking into consideration the Talmudic code or a dramatic code with supporting cast collapse of all of the communisms ¿Estás ahí? everyone I said the only thing talked about was Milosevic Serbia extends all the way over there to the last grave of a Serb they said he said then the journalist who must have been from Spain said to imagine that Spain extends to the last grave of a Spaniard all of America Africa the Philippines so I say to imagine that Puerto Rico goes all the way to the last grave of a Puerto Rican WOW all over the USA Vietnam Korea Japan how big we are old abandoned factories we are mere humiliated beings I have to fix my hair call my mother when are you coming to P.R. to visit me? "when I have the money mom" it's very expensive to go there I'd have to rent a car stay in that house full of spirits it's a costly and painful trip etcetera and damn! they see me as a capricious plantation owner an authoritarian queen a cruel stepmother a heartless daughter a facsimile of Joan the Mad in that black and white movie our Castilian heritage has to come from somewhere they hide her in the tower they insult her she screws all of the men in the palace she tears her clothes she drinks all the pitchers of wine I grew up watching that Spanish movie of course you see what sort I am like Isabel covered with white paint purer than the virgin married to the English throne like a huge sports facility in the middle of the Pacific Ocean petty violence who is my father who is my mother I'm not as white as I seem I'm not the daughter of the father of Payco ice cream not even close I did not get married in the Santa Teresita Church air conditioning installed with five hundred twenty five dozens of irises a white carriage with dressage horses on Loiza Street in the midday heat I'm not in the carriage I'm the one in front with the crowd watching the heiress get married I'm the smallest so I say but how nice I look here the Oscar disappeared the same night that Benicio won the prize and they gave him another one in exchange for the other while that old Oscar that still shines like a sun with a crown of stars a multicolored choreography when you go near it you pass in front of it behind it without paying much attention to it who could it have been? it's like stealing one of the Miss Universes how many do we have? probably four such a small island with four Miss Universes surely the Dominicans were the Cubans I doubt it the Americans they make these Oscars so who?  you've thought about the census go to page ten read carefully it tells us that there are 10,000 Lebanese behind the theater in a neighborhood of three streets, seven restaurants, and ten grocery stores they are not heard they are not listened to they speak Arabic and they disappear in the darkness of day so what are we antiamericans antidominicans anticubans antiarabs and everything I've written up until now I think twelve pages in Courier 12 what are they what do they mean a waterfall that demonstrates our authenticity perhaps or they are words without any style whatsoever lacking proofreading which confirms the suspicion that we don't know Spanish we can't speak English we write without decorum and the lack of originality is sinful too personal we are too much discourse redundant generalizations mosaics meaningless none of the customary observations our texts something is missing in them we need to be told here is a good writer someone who can take the baton and take over for the undeserved and dying of so many women writing so so so so lacking unbalanced agonizing brazen empty dilettante useless so heavy and deadly gas my stomach hurts it was that lunch I wolfed it down like I do everything lately I arrive kiss the saint and devour whatever is around with a special vile void uncontrollable morbid pleasure a darkness of the unnecessary rustic town that's how the monsignor described us which is better than how the Argentineans describe us a bunch of tropical idiots with a total ignorance of culture he who doesn't know how the knot was tied won't be able to undo it the philosopher said and the knot of this robbery is unique unusual even plausible to steal an Oscar our only one until Benicio came with that sad look on his face and so full of worry for others to steal our Oscar the one belonging to those Puerto Ricans honor and country patience and resignation that is what they told us we are made of but they sell trinkets and interview Benicio's teacher at the Perpetuo Socorro Catholic School important lineage bastion of our society what if Benicio went to the public school Republic of Colombia would the teachers remember? I very much doubt that my teachers remember me who would remember this bunch of shameless alcapurrias-eating loud-mouthed foul-mouthed sons of no one who would remember them? it was the students of the Republic of Colombia school who stole robbed kidnapping outrage privation burglary embezzlement the Oscar rapacious mulattos good for nothings Arabs thieves lifting part of our national heritage Hollywoodian thieves plunder selling silk ribbons buttons brooches and buckles looters plunderers of the few hair products they give us I've seen them from the bus near the theater selling shampoo and conditioner batteries magazines movie reels condoms they even sell the gypsies' bear they sell noble lineage those rude blacks I'm in the hotel of the Cuban socialist state it's night I'm sleeping I think I'm sleeping the phone has been ringing off the hook I answer it "jelou jelou who is this?" there is no answer one two three four five it keeps ringing I get up open the door to my room go downstairs end up in a dark lobby and a pile of bodies on the floor I must be dreaming "hey you chiquitita do you know what time it is what are you doing here this late"  "it's me" I explain I'm staying in this hotel I say who said how about that they answer "you're not a guest you're one of those whores for foreigners" "I swear to God I even speak English" I say "it's true she's a guest it's true sorry do you want a cup of coffee of course it's on the house" I am sitting here on this sofa in the lobby of this rundown hotel in the middle of Havana I'm going to a literature conference while my son is in a detox clinic 28 days there in my beloved San Juan because en mi Viejo San Juan cuántos sueños forjé my son detox I said in one of the best clinics $400 a day full service with psychiatrists psychologists social workers and with excellent sanitary conditions it looks like a first class hotel don't get confused I've been confused with a whore I'm not dreaming and the telephone why is it ringing so much "the thing is is that you have a private room like the ones for regular guests some little whore must be looking for her client" it is fair and reasonable that they have robbed stolen acquired the Oscar to toss it in with the rest of the world contraband of memorabilia because peace is not effective I'll explain the truth about this case is that my friend Rodolfo gay actor and Puerto Rican who has even acted in Almodovar films went on vacation in order to be closer to nature because he needs to cleanse his aura to some remote part of Canada where there are no poisoned vultures or institutes of tropical medicine and there all alone in his tent que duerme una nochecita de paz noche de amor and in a second like a bull-pen a poor little boy from the war his tent with Rodolfo inside flies away in a tornado poor Rodolfo thrust onto the end of a branch very near the slope to a river he barely survived "oh it hurts don't push me you'll break me" he shouted not being stupid enough to die my friend Rodolfo was saved by the brave security team of that mountain "oh Rodolfo don't go there alone one of these days you're not going to live to tell about it" "don't worry the next time I go to Havana I'll stay at a gay hotel it's easier to protect your balls in a little hotel in Havana" but if you go to Havana don't even think about throwing out your disposable razors because Ma'am don't throw away your razors they can be sharpened and last a lifetime it never would have occurred to me to sharpen the razors it's the neighbor she's hanging clothes out to dry I think she's ugly one should hang clothes out to dry prettier more elegant I'll explain I said those boys cross the street they send one of those kids they open the door to the theater which is always unlocked because that's something I can say about our country everything is open the stores the churches the theaters so the kid goes in no one is guarding the Oscar no one cares at this point on a performance day no one asks not even the children accompanied by their parents ask "papa what's that?" because they're very busy with their computer games and so the kid goes in who can't be too young because the Oscar is on a pedestal about six feet high and without any protection let's start the scene over an adolescent crosses the street he opens the door to the theater no one asks "hey, who are you? hey you what do you want?" the janitor cleaning up the vomit of that actor who arrived drunk to the performance and the security guard has heard some noises behind the curtain oh oh oh oh it feels so good someone must be there offstage I'm going to take a look and at that moment the adolescent described who no one can describe because no one knows him takes the Oscar that is so small it can fit in a shopping bag unlike the box of fax paper that we hauled two blocks to the Casa de las Americas there in old Havana nothing like Havana my father used to say rightly to haul a box of fax paper direct from Venezuela from Venezuela to Cuba with love James Bond here we are this Venezuelan delegation in recognition of this special time that Cuba has been suffering we have brought this box of fax paper hey Che don't you know that this is charity that revolutions don't progress with charity it's like listening to the voice of Saint Che like a slaughtered lamb sacrificed half way along the mountain path in Bolivia and what do you do throw the box of fax paper off of the pier or leave it there on some street corner while that adolescent with the rhythm of an unemployed Moor with that musical rhythm of any Puerto Rican in Ali Baba's cave nothing can be hidden immense life struggles the competition is tough those blood lines guarantee job house and food and especially whoever's carrying the best loot going on a diet is my greatest New Year's resolution leave all of the men I'm going out with as well but going on a diet is the absolute most important resolution damn! I'm going to dive headlong into weight watchers the protein diet the one high in carbohydrates decisions and a few days later he puts the shopping bag into a van headed for New Jersey and at the port of Elizabeth the same aforementioned van now full of books headed for the African coast is intercepted by the Arab Brotherhood of Buenos Aires the same ones who headed Menem's presidential campaign an Arab president horror for those Argentineans so refined in the art of whiteness how embarrassing for all of the noble families of the world a picturesque challenge I think the film buff in the audience "I am an old bookdealer and I knew personally all parts involved in this matter, including where the Oscar came from that was sold in Africa and sent to Seville" where a bookdealer plans how to get it to Sotheby's so the Oscar is not in the form of the Phoenix not the dimensions or the unity of the poem that is preserved in the Exeter Book divided into five unnumbered sections prominent and unquestioned as follows

 

Natural     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9

Triangular  1     3     6     10    15    21    28    36

Solid 1     4     10    20    35    56    84

 

 

Solid said Robert Stevick solidity that's what the Oscar has it's a mass of shiny metal like a murderous lake or the brief story of death even without the help of a lot of people the robbery of that Oscar was a success I have already said and I repeat the janitor cleaning up vomit and the guard very busy pursuing screwing couples so what that reality surpasses us it leaves us far behind until sleep and oblivion my dear friend Hassam we met thirty years ago at a border crossing we wanted to go to America but not the America of the islands rather the big and comfortable America to buy a car and have a big house thirty years ago we swore fidelity to each other a cold night in the Iranian desert okay so today I'm asking you to help us between the Ayatola's army and the power of the Taliban destroyer of Buddhas they have torn our families' our neighbors' hearts apart I'm asking you to send us something to sustain us that we can use to barter in the open market that will help us escape this organized evil desperate we have sold everything even the water from the fountain in the patio of our house the same fountain from which Alexander the Great and Magnificent stopped to drink on several occasions there was a time when vineyards gardenias and olives flourished in our gardens and at dusk we would sit under the shade of olive trees if you could see the empty holes in the ground and even caverns that exist on our land looking for the last ancient old earthen jar to dig up and sell to the bloodhound hucksters at the border to the traveling circus performers and the archeologists that's the situation my friend selling our national treasures how horrible all that's left are gaping holes I don't sell the clay jars I bought in Venezuela in a tourist shop and I tell everyone that they're pre-Colombian and I bought them from a smuggler on a raft our border the sea is full of homemade rafts made of car tires they say in more civilized pure-blooded countries I have to pee I'll be right back and I'm already back to the circus you have to see the competition like the swingers clubs in Miami hey you come here it's true that the water in the Mona Canal is so tumultuous that it caresses the rafts and turns them into food for baby sharks an area of anti-Haitian tumultuousness I forgot I remembered infallible memory family memory historic memory that's how I got them we are antihatians antidominicans antiamericans anticubans antiarabs who's left?  did we forget anyone?  they are born amongst fisherman and caught by the phosphorescent light of the canal the water bats the neighbor is tanning herself how white her skin is listen carefully I've never seen such white skin it's beyond white it's moon in the middle of the pastures gondola without oars on the altar of that furious sea dirty money in the city interview with a down-and-out singer suicide of jellyfish it's non-color on ceramic plates velvet wood fox fur theater map Kabuki she's whiter than the foam of a Sealy Posturepedic mattress absolute void buy myself a brassiere a time keeping device I need to have to go board the train just as I am right now go to Orchard Street get in line for Steven to size me up 34B Steven the Pope transmitting his fears from the balcony of the basilica yes no yes yes no I don't think so 32 34 BCD yes that's the one I want there are wounds inside of me which will probably never heal and that's why I see the therapist I have fears panic attacks of them who them all of them some of them not all of them the most perverse the anxiety is uncontrollable without warning it doesn't knock on the door I live with an apocalyptic feeling they're taking away my house my children I lose my keys I don't remember my ATM number sex in first person it's been a long time since I've done it and now our Oscar has disappeared at this time such a monument is more important than the Lares flag or the graves of the great founding fathers Betances Hostos Albizu heroes more significant than Vieques who cares about a little island in the middle of the sea total unemployment people who don't appreciate the work of the Navy glorious soldiers who bombard rhythmical in the blue and green tropics without the Oscar I feel like a fallen bird an indecipherable message a Golem of Prague without the Oscar we are nothing and what's worse it will be a long time before we are something again I beg in the name of the sky and the explosion of stars that we make a trade with the ancestral silence and from far away the Oscar for Vieques imported copy bombarded from any American base a deadly bird in a colonial photograph in a Smithsonian please I'll let myself go astray let me go astray let me forget forget me.

 

Translated from Spanish by Jennifer Edwards

 

 

 

Steve CannonTribes