little boys in suit pants and peacoats whose mothers pull them aside on the street to let me past and direct their ramblings directly at the tops of their little brown hair heads. today was full with anger and laughter, one and then the other, like hopscotch or double dutch. angry at uba, my tutor my teachers and myself, and everyone else who did pass the class, all the other estadounidenses except one whom i have been insulting all semester, and perhaps this is why we two did not achieve the goal, why we two must present. angry at myself for my anger, for not allowing the heart open. angry skyping with mom and dad, and the mysterious explosion of grin stretched across my face when i told nieves, i am so so angry, i said. enojado, enojada, qué importa? i said. then a great dinner with nieves and fani, thank goodness, oh goodness, i am grateful. then i showed them Philomela, and the clear and obvious unending face-stretching smile. then the friend whose name perhaps i’ll never learn came over, and we all laughed and laughed and laughed. you have a book! they said. we have to celebrate!
we are all people and i am a person and it is okay to be a person. i tried to demonstrate that i am not so stressed out but rather just preoccupied. rather just occupied by the consideration of language. that there is so much to think about. and so little time. nieves knows nothing of time, by which i mean she knows not how long has lived here nor how long toy has nor how long ago zach was here nor anything as such. does not date her journal entries. and when she asked hace cuando llegué i said nine weeks today. because i know time. i did not explain to her the epoca of when i couldn’t breathe or the epoca of when my tongue was all there was or the epoca of when i was handling language all the time and couldn’t speak. there is so much i haven’t begun to explain.
i have seen two slugs since i got to this country and they were both in my house. maybe they had just mated but then i killed one by mistake. this is a poem to all the dead things. before it was a slug and now it is just wet. i have seen a lot of cockroaches flat on the sidewalk and i have walked through some peoples’ house which is under the autopista near san juan. by house i mean i saw a man taking a shower. by taking a shower i mean he had a plastic water bottle and his head bent over. i have eaten a lot of polluted grapes. today i said hola to the man who works at the iuna café who was near the table smoking a cigarette because he sells me un cortado chico twice a week and that is a lot. he smiled such a nice smile. i wonder if he knows that he’s my friend.
the only things i write are true things. where i grew up is a tall house that is not so tall compared to what is around it. what is around my house is new york city, which is mine only as much as it is anybody’s. what is around my house is a street that might have been bob dylan’s street. in that way that east sixth street is my street because it has my hookah bar. it is my hookah bar because it is where i first inhaled something intentionally. you are not giving it a blowjob, my best friend told me. she was my best friend because i would almost skip chorus for her but not quite. best friend as in i was in love. my street as in i did not learn to ride a bike on it because one does not learn to ride a bike on cobblestone. cobblestone because the dutch and british both thought it was theirs. theirs because they had guns and the Indians did not. Indians because that is what they expected. expected but not like a child. not like a child because one should not conquer a child. should not because one does not always listen. listen because that is the sound of biketire on cement. cement because this is the twenty first century and we do what is cheap and easy. cheap and easy because we sell ourselves. we sell ourselves because