Matthew Mason

Two Poems


Ah, neutered bacon; rumors spilled over brandy,
weak games of frisbee golf, going camping by yourself,
losing composure with pepper blown in your eyes, earthy
cola commercials singing across the earth!

In you, rivers sing, and my virginity hugs sailors
like your desires making where they desire.
I have macramé car seat covers from your discount supermarket of hope,
and alone in delirium, the back of my neck is itchy.

In turn, I am my own supplier of crumbled snack cakes
and your silence accuses my hours as damaging,
and you are there with your invisible kisses
where my arms are bound and my humiliations broadcast.

Ah, your mysterious voice that loves tinfoil and pop songs
in the resonant and dying candlelight!
So, in empty hours, look to farmers
pushing pigs into the mouth of the wind.



Poem 3 from Pablo Neruda's "Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada" is a gorgeous journey of love. Poem 3 of my "Mistranslating Neruda" is a less direct voyage to the same destination, coming across love with more fear, often lacking the confidence to make eye contact with it. Admittedly, this is not a translation of Neruda's words, it's more the shape of his poem used as wrapping paper around my own take on love and despair. Here, mine, is a love who shops in the thrift stores and probably has a minimum wage job; mine watches TV and has a weakness for Little Debbie snacks. But mine is still love, in all its ambiguity, all its nobility, its glory, its gargantuan and tiny moments. It's the bacon and, at least here, not the pork rinds.




For my heart is enough for you to perch on,
for your liberty is enough caution to my loss.
Before my mouth called you out of the sky,
you were sleeping underneath my soul.

Let's sip tea in the illusion of idle days.
You shake like the motor of a rusting Toyota.
You sweetly ascend to the horizon.
Eternally confusing the screwed up and the holy.

I'm talking that you sang in the winter
like the pines and the wolves.
Like them, you are high and you are hungry.
And you disappear like a jostled rabbit.

You coil like an old road.
You build ecologically and sing memories.
At times you flee and at times you just walk away
from the parrots nesting in your soul.




It's amazing how our minds do their best to screw with us when we're not looking; how, when we think we're just writing about something odd and mindless, we go back to that a month later and realize we've just mirrored or forseen our own lives in the poetry that wasn't supposed to be about us at all. That's my way of saying "sometimes we don't consciously know we're in bad relationships until we look back at the poetry we wrote that was supposed to quite certainly have nothing to do with us but quite certainly does."


Editor's Note:

Mistranslating Neruda was a finalist in the NEW MICHIGAN PRESS/DIAGRAM 2002 chapbook competition, and will be published this summer by the New Michigan Press.

Order the chapbook from the NMP storefront.