Patrick Cabell
October 20, 2020

For many years I was condemned to love a wretched woman
Sacrifice myself for her, suffer vicious insults and humiliations,
To work night and day for her food and way of life,
Sneaking packages off fancy doorsteps, concealing goods from the security guard.
Under the moon I slipped across the border unnoticed
To remain the apple of her fascinating eyes.
At times we would ride bikes together on the levee, cursing the tourists in cars
Before sleeping in the woods like a couple,
Or once in awhile would ferociously make out at the back of a café
And write in our journals while the baristas closed up and solemnly left for home.

For years I lived under the oppressive spell of that woman
Who crocheted her own clothes and beguiled the men in our ranks
Crying profusely when I had to leave town and making outlandish demands
That I proclaim my love for only her and abandon the revolution.
She swore me into cutting off my own parents.
One by one I lost my friends thanks to rumors the viperous shrew helped spread.
My final thrusts to come to the issue at root
Were thwarted by her fragile invulnerability.
The infiltrators and sycophants emboldening her
Forced me behind bars more than once, and onto the filling streets,
Dejected more and more by what I saw,
Still unable to leave her orbit and full of hatred for the 21st century.

I rarely came to their house anymore and stayed out in a woodrat shack
Running errands for people around town, and taking trips to build our contacts.
I read the poems of Nicanor: Mina ¿qué te parece huyamos de los ojos vigilantes por fin…
We took some LSD and impersonated journalists to obtain tickets from the box office.
Rudely discovered, I watched in astonishment as she sang the 12 bar blues acapella,
Swaying the crowd to fling open the doors to us once more.
Many such riots broke out, during which the first leaves of autumn appeared,
Along with omens of poverty, sex as compensation, and at last plans hatched in desperation.
Amidst tear gas a small masked face appeared before me
And my eyes indicated their meaning without hesitation
That she plant her lips firmly on mine for the last time
Veiled by a bandana, that night in the Santa Cruz forest
Where we started Occupy three years before I would sit in the audience
At CUNY, bored while David Graeber explained how he had done it.

I was often found crying in front of the native people’s firepit
Until finally a woman’s wise hand lay upon my shoulder
And a voice I worship said, Do you know who this is?
Serenely I spoke, You are the love of my life.
Sweetheart, she squealed nervously, let me just hold your waist once more!
She had tattoos of a different style, and smelled of feces.
Come back to the group, I run a library now,
You can apologize and they will accept you again.
Things have changed, people are waking up
All the movements are coming together.
Your speeches feel hollow, I said without turning.

I’m sick of living with my parents lately, you depress me,
I have no children and no prospects
My memories are my only wealth, but lack the will
To sort out my mistakes and failed plans
To trust anyone again, and bring about communism.

Anti-translation of “The Viper” (1953) by Nicanor Parra