Pablo Helguera

Four Arlington Poems

Inquiring about Unspoken Thoughts

I used to sing to myself
In complete unawareness.
Until one day at a library
a woman approached me
And said:
“You have a beautiful voice,
But could you please stop singing?”

I never sang
ever again.

I never experienced
happiness in art again.
Happiness is that place
That breathes freely
Without the intrusion of our mind,
Virgin images,
unconscious moments.

I don’t even know
whether or not
I can translate them.

Inside the Engine

There are always those
For whom the tongue becomes gifted!
They sit in budget meetings
Magnificently articulating the artist’s intentions,
Producing gorgeous turns of phrases
That suggest deep philosophical knowledge
And profound references to the meaning of the work
in our conflicted world.
I look stupefied, in awe
As a docile pet, or
a poor peasant
unable to add to such eloquence.
Sometimes they make back handed comments
About artists as nobodies or opportunists
And I think they are talking about me.
Then they go back to their offices
In their impeccable suits
And write down press releases.
I only go sit down and suffer
Sometimes  aware
That this suffering of mine
Will one day be articulated in a press release
By one of their descendants
And they will get paid handsomely
For their disdainful brilliance.

A Corridor in the Hospice

Walk down this hallway
strong wood-cleaner scent
and a burgundy cement floor
painted over a thousand times over the years
in the music conservatory
to find
the accidental fugue of instruments.
Those who understand music can relate:
Each student laboriously rehearsing
Each in their study room
piano, violin, trumpet
Chopin, Brams, Haydn
The intermezzo of the second act
The first five bars of the third symphony
The stubborn Mazurka passage
that refuses to be played
The Unanswered Question
In repeated phrases
And repeated phrases
And repeated phrases
Sometimes broken
patiently constructed
Thrown in a blender of
unintended postmodern dissonance
instrumental worlds
conjured up in gentle turbulence
Sisyphus laboring
in a liftetime of uphill musical prayer

Important Factors

But the movement was short-lived:

Clear outside sunny air
Fresh Yellow trees
In the inside it is all pink walls
Disney characters
And rubbing alcohol.
Doctor Adrián
round glasses, thin moustache
approaches my arm
Tetanus shot
I scream briefly as
a car passes by
as I see the soft white crochet
In my mother’s bag.