LEARN THE LETTER

thumbnailphpIn April 2008, a number of ‘poets’ went to a screening of Pedro Costa’s “Colossal Youth” at the PFA in Berkeley. There are several scenes in which the main character Ventura repeatedly recites a love letter, pleading that his friend Lento “must learn the letter” so that Lento can later deliver it to his beloved. The letter was based on a poem by Robert Desnos, and is repeated in several variations throughout the film, such that the audience also ‘learns the letter.’ The next day I emailed several folks, asking them to write me their recollection of the letter. These are some of the responses, mediated of course by time and memory but also by the disconnect between the spoken Portuguese and the English-language subtitles. Thanks to Konrad Steiner, Stephanie Young, David Brazil, Elise Ficarra, Lisa Robertson, Jocelyn Saidenberg, and Rachel Sanderoff. The final version below is the English translation of what critic Ana Balona de Oliveira claims is the longest iteration in the film.

I will return to you strong and loving.

I will [want to?] give
you 100 000 cigarettes

a car

the lava house that you
have always wanted

a three penny bouquet

Here there is nothing but work
There are over one hundred of us.

I write you every month.

Still nothing from you

Every day I learn beautiful
new words for us […]

Still nothing from you.
Some other time.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday.

————————–

my dear,

strong and loving

thirty years

100 000 cigarettes, a dozen dresses, a car

a bottle of wine

there are over a hundred of us here now

I can only write once a month

————————–

I will come to you loving and strong

I will give you 100,000 cigarettes
a dozen fancy dresses

but mostly drink a bottle of fine wine and think of me

————————–

Nhe Crechu, my love

Seeing each other again
will brighten our lives
for 30 years

If I could, I would offer you
100,000 cigarettes
a dozen fancy dresses
a car
that little house of lava
you always dreamed of
a three penny bouquet…

But most of all,
drink a bottle of good wine
and think of me.

Here it is nothing
but work.

There are over
a hundred of us now.

I can only send
one letter a month.

Still nothing from you.

Some time.

Every day, every minute
I learn beautiful new words
fit just for us.

We can wear them
like a pair
of silk pyjamas.

How would you like that?

Some time.

Sometimes
I think of us.

Me, with my pick axe and cement.

You with your pit of silence
so deep I am afraid
it will swallow you.

Everyday I see horrors
that I do not want to see.

I wait for your letters.

Still nothing from you.


Some time.

————————–

my love,

being together again would make us happy for at least 30 more years.

I’d return to you strong and loving.

I wish I could offer you 100,000 cigarettes,

a dozen fancy dresses,

a car,

that little lava house you always dreamed of,

a three-penny bouquet.

most of all,

drink a bottle of good wine and think of me.

————————–

I wish I could offer you 100,000 cigarettes,
a dozen fancy dresses,
that little lava house you always dreamed of.

But most of all, drink a bottle of good wine and think
of me.

Here it is

Work

There are nearly a hundred of us here now.

The other day for my birthday I thought of you for
several hours.

Each day I am learning (thinking?) new words

to fit us

like silk pajamas

wouldn’t you like that?

did you receive my letter

no word

————————–

Nha crecheu, my love
Being together again
Will brighten our lives
For at least 30 years.
I’ll come back to you
Strong and loving.
I wish I could offer you
100,000 cigarettes
A dozen fancy dresses
A car
That little lava house
You always dreamed of
A three-penny bouquet
But most of all
Drink a bottle of good wine
And think of me
Here, it’s nothing but work
There are over a hundred of us now
Did my letter arrive safely?
Still nothing from you.
Some other time.
Every day, every minute
I learn beautiful new words
For you and me alone
Made to fit us both,
Like fine silk pajamas.
Wouldn’t you like that?
I can only send you
One letter a month.
Still nothing from you.
Some other time.
I often get scared
building these walls.
Me with a pick and cement,
You with your silence,
A pit so deep,
It swallows you up.
It hurts to see these horrors
That I don’t want to see.
Your lovely hair slips
Through my fingers like dry grass.
Often, I feel weak and think
I’m going to forget you

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2 responses to “LEARN THE LETTER

  1. Lindsey Boldt

    Bah. Such a great idea, Buuck.

  2. Pingback: Upcoming Events, etc « Buuck/BARGE

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