James Baldwin: poemas de “Jimmy’s Blues” (1983)

James Baldwin_Novelista ensayista activista estadounidense_1924 hasta 1987_American novelist essayist and poet_1924 to 1987
James Baldwin (Novelista/ensayista/activista estadounidense, 1924-1987)
“Culpa, Deseo y Amor”
A la esquina oscura
donde la Culpa y el Deseo
están intentando sostenerle la mirada
– en breve, uno de ellos va prender un cigarillo
y aludir al próximo almacén abandonado –
pues el Amor llega, andando encorvado…
Un silencio detonado.
Y el Amor se para, un poco apartado de ellos,
pero visible en la luz amarilla, callado y humeante.
Mientras tanto, la Culpa y el Deseo discutían,
y intentaban no estar escuchado por este intruso…
Cada vez que el Deseo miró hacia el Amor,
esperando encontrar a un testigo,
pues la Culpa gritó más fuerte
– y agitó sus caderas –
y el fuego del cigarillo
amenazó a incendiarse el almacén.
El Deseo, en hecho, cruzó la calle, de vez en cuando,
para oír lo que diga el Amor…
Pero la Culpa paró una carga
de otra gente,
pues se arrodilló en el medio de la calle,
mientras la carga de otra gente
huyeron la mirada y juraro que
no podían ver nada – y no aseverarían de ningún modo –
pues el Amor se alejó.
Y la Culpa logró, sobre el cuerpo en pie del Deseo,
ese alivio inflamatorio y pasajero que estampa su unión
(¿para siempre?)
y que crea un problema de tráfico
. . .
“El Dador” (para Berdis)
Si la esperanza de regalando – dando –
es de amando a los vivos,
pues el dador arriesga la locura
en el acto de dar.
Esa lección yo vea
en las caras que me rodean.
Necesitadas, ciegas, sin esperanza, abajo,
¿Cuál regalo les daría el regalo ser regalados?
El dador también está a la deriva
como ellos que claman hacia el regalo.
Si no pueden reclamarlo, si no está allí,
si sus dedos vacíos golpean el aire vacío,
y el dador se arrodilla en oración
– comprende que todo su dar es dar para nada –
y que nada fue lo que pensaba,
y mueve en su cama culpable, para mirar
a las multitudes habreadas que se paran allí,
si él sube de su cama – para maldecir el cielo:
él debe comprender que
a todo aquel a quien se haya dado mucho, mucho se le demandará
– sacado de él, y justamente –
¡No puedo decirte cuánto debo!
. . .
No, no siento la llegada de Muerte; siento su ida.
Ha lanzado su manos en el aire – por un rato –
y pienso que le conozco más bien que antes.
Esos brazos, me agarraban un ratito…
Pero, cuando nos encontramos de nuevo,
existirá entre nosotros
esa comprensión secreta.
. . .
[Del poemario Jimmy’s Blues (1983)]
. . .
Dr. Kenneth Clark y James Baldwin: entrevista de 1963, (en inglés, con subtítulos en español)
. . . . .

James Baldwin: poems from “Jimmy’s Blues” (1983)

James Baldwin in 1945_age 21

James Baldwin in 1945_age 21

James Baldwin (American novelist, essayist, activist, 1924-1987)
“Guilt, Desire and Love”
At the dark street corner
where Guilt and Desire
are attempting to stare
each other down
(presently, one of them
will light a cigarette
and glance in the direction
of the abandoned warehouse)
Love came slouching along,
an exploded silence
standing a little apart
but visible anyway
in the yellow, silent, steaming light,
while Guilt and Desire wrangled,
trying not to be overheard
by this trespasser.
Each time Desire looked towards Love,
hoping to find a witness,
Guilt shouted louder
and shook them hips
and the fire of the cigarette
threatened to burn the warehouse down.
Desire actually started across the street,
time after time,
to hear what Love might have to say,
but Guilt flagged down a truckload
of other people
and knelt down in the middle of the street
and, while the truckload of other people
looked away, and swore that they
didn’t see nothing
and couldn’t testify nohow,
and Love moved out of sight,
Guilt accomplished upon the standing body
of Desire
the momentary, inflammatory soothing
which seals their union
(for ever?)
and creates a mighty traffic problem.
. . .
“Munich, Winter 1973” (for Y.S.)
In a strange house,
a strange bed
in a strange town,
a very strange me
is waiting for you.
it is very early in the morning.
The silence is loud.
The baby is walking about
with his foaming bottle,
making strange sounds
and deciding, after all,
to be my friend.
arrive tonight.
How dull time is!
How empty—and yet,
since I am sitting here,
lying here,
walking up and down here,
I see
that time’s cruel ability
to make one wait
is time’s reality.
I see your hair,
which I call red.
I lie here in this bed.
Someone teased me once,
a friend of ours—
saying that I saw your hair red
because I was not thinking
of the hair on your head.
Someone also told me,
a long time ago:
my father said to me,
It is a terrible thing,
to fall into the hands of the living God.
I know what he was saying.
I could not have seen red
before finding myself
in this strange, this waiting bed.
Nor had my naked eye suggested
that colour was created
by the light falling, now,
on me,
in this strange bed,
where no one has ever rested!
The streets, I observe,
are wintry.
It feels like snow.
Starlings circle in the sky,
together, and alone,
unspeakable journeys
into and out of the light.
I know
I will see you tonight.
And snow
may fall
enough to freeze our tongues
and scald our eyes.
We may never be found again!
Just as the birds above our heads
are singing,
that, in what lies before them,
the always unknown passage,
wind, water, air,
the failing light
the falling night
the blinding sun
they must get the journey done.
They have winds and voices,
are making choices,
are using what they have.
They are aware
that, on long journeys,
each bears the other,
love occuring
in the middle of the terrifying air.
. . .
(on my birthday – for Rico)
Between holding on,
and letting go,
I wonder
how you know
the difference.
It must be something like
the difference
between heaven and hell,
but how, in advance,
can you tell?
If letting go
is saying no,
then what is holding on
Can anyone be held?
Can I – ?
The impossible conundrum,
the closed circle,
does lightning strike this house
and not another?
Or, is it true
that love is blind
until challenged by the drawbridge
of the mind?
But, saying that,
one’s forced to see one’s definitions
as unreal.
We do not know enough about the mind,
or how the conundrum of the imagination
dictates, discovers,
or can dismember what we feel,
or what we find.
one must learn to trust
one’s terror:
the holding on,
the letting go,
is error:
the lightning has no choice,
the whirlwind has one voice.
. . .
“Some Days” (for Paula)
Some days worry
some days glad
some days
more than make you
Some days,
some days, more than
when you see what’s coming
on down the line!
Some days you say,
oh, not me never – !
Some days you say
bless God forever.
Some days, you say,
curse God, and die,
and the day comes when you wrestle
with that lie.
Some days tussle
then some days groan
and some days
don’t even leave a bone.
Some days you hassle
all alone.
I don’t know, sister,
what I’m saying,
nor do no man,
if he don’t be praying.
I know that love is the only answer
and the tight-rope lover
the only dancer.
When the lover come off the rope
the net which holds him
is how we pray,
and not to God’s unknown,
but to each other – :
the falling mortal is our brother!
Some days leave
some days grieve
some days you almost don’t believe.
Some days believe you,
some days don’t,
some days believe you
and you won’t.
Some days worry
some days mad
some days more than make you
Some days, some days,
more than shine,
coming on down the line!
James Baldwin_probably a photograph from when he lived in Turkey...
“The Giver” (for Berdis)
If the hope of giving
is to love the living,
the giver risks madness
in the act of giving.
Some such lesson I seemed to see
in the faces that surrounded me.
Needy and blind, unhopeful, unlifted,
what gift would give them the gift to be gifted!
The giver is no less adrift
than those who are clamouring for the gift.
If they cannot claim it, if it is not there,
if their empty fingers beat the empty air,
and the giver goes down on his knees in prayer,
knows that all of his giving has been for naught,
and that nothing was ever what he thought,
and turns in his guilty bed to stare
at the starving multitudes standing there,
and rises from bed to curse at heaven,
he must yet understand that to whom much is given
much will be taken – and justly so:
I cannot tell how much I owe.
James Baldwin photographed in Saint Paul de Vence_France_late 1970s_ copyright Dmitri Kasterine

James Baldwin photographed in Saint Paul de Vence_France_late 1970s_ copyright Dmitri Kasterine

No, I don’t feel death coming.
I feel death going:
having thrown up his hands,
for the moment.
I feel like I know him
better than I did.
Those arms held me,
for a while,
and, when we meet again,
there will be that secret knowledge
between us.
. . .
“The darkest hour”
The darkest hour
is just before the dawn,
and that, I see,
which does not guarantee
power to draw the next breath,
nor abolish the suspicion
that the brightest hour
we will ever see
occurs just before we cease
to be.
. . .
James Baldwin is justly famous for the hard-hitting candour of his essays about race relations in his native U.S.A. during the final simmering decades of the “Jim Crow” era. The stepson of a Harlem pastor, yet openly gay abroad (France and Istanbul), Baldwin also wrote a small number of poems: the rare Gypsy manuscript from his youth, plus Jimmy’s Blues (published in 1983, from which the above have been chosen). His trademark searing honesty about how one will have no choice but to face Life combines with the cadences of a Black-American upbringing: the presence of the Blues and Gospel.
. . . . .