#100Days100Poems Day 10

One of the joys of this country is its diversity. Except for a few, we are all immigrants, whether newly arrived, or in families long established. We have countless languages and cultures, cuisines and customs, that come together in what should be glorious harmony. Sadly, some among us choose to divide and exclude. In honor of our diversity, today’s poem, by María José Zubieta, appears in English translation, followed by its Spanish original. All our voices, in whatever language, will be heard in these #100Days100Poems.

 

The Angel

 
I walked down Fifth Avenue
in this raucous city
full of tourists that incessantly come and go.
Street lamps were on.
Holiday decorations became more noticeable
as night fell.

 
I was surrounded by people walking in the same direction
absorbed, amazed at so much luxury.
The light around us made their faces look ghostly.

 
These people surely believed -and still believe- 
in this land's hospitality.
They know nothing.

 
I'm not a tourist here and I know well
how cruel the Big Apple can be.
This apple is a triangle
like the Bermuda Triangle where
we inadvertently lose our identity.

 
Then I saw her smiling peacefully 
as I imagine angels smile.
Completely alone in her determination.
Her sign a powerful instrument.

 
I was struck by an arrow of joy
startled out of my stupor.
I read her sign out loud:
"Not My President"
and started to chant with her.

 
We looked at each other and smiled
united in the chant
united in the condemnation
of the dirty trick of which we are victims
of this fallacy they call democracy.

 

El ángel

 

Caminaba por la Quinta Avenida
de esta ciudad estrepitosa
llena de turistas que vienen y van incesantemente.
Las farolas prendidas
las decoraciones navideñas se hacían más notorias
al caer la noche.

 
Estaba rodeada de personas que caminaban en la misma dirección
ensimismadas, asombradas con tanto lujo.
La luz que nos rodeaba hacía que sus rotros se vieran fantasmagóricos.

 
Esta gente seguro creía –y sigue creyendo-
en la hospitalidad de estas tierras.
Nada saben.

 
Yo no soy turista y sé bien
cuán cruel puede ser la Gran Manzana.
Esta manzana es un triángulo
como el Triángulo de las Bermudas donde
perdemos nuestra identidad involuntariamente.

 
Entonces la vi sonriendo, pacífica
como imagino a los ángeles.
Completamente sola en su determinación.
Su cartel un instrumento poderoso.

 
Una flecha de alegría me atravesó
me despertó del estupor.
Leí su cartel en voz alta:
“Not My President”
Y comencé a cantar con ella.

 
Nos miramos y sonreímos
unidas en el canto
unidas en el repudio
de la artimaña de la que somos víctimas
de esta falacia que llaman democracia.

© María José Zubieta – 2017

You can find María on Twitter: @majozub

*****

For the first 100 days of the Trumpet administration, this blog will feature a new poem of protest, by my own hand and by others. They will be polished gems, or rough cut drafts of rage, or in process pieces searching for peace. They may be haiku or tanka, limericks or lyrics, verses free or fettered. If you would like to submit to this endeavor, please send an email, with poem saved as a word document (.docx) to waxyandpoetic AT gmail DOT com. All rights remain with the author. VISUAL ARTISTS ! Do you have something visually poetic that you’d like to submit? GO FOR IT!
Please address any formatting preferences in your email. I will post submissions time permitting, with at least one per day. Editing will be limited to obvious errors of spelling and the like.

Read, follow, share, re-tweet, submit, live, love, spread light! Don’t forget to use #100Days100Poems !

*****

 

M. Jordan, where is my painting? — NPM

The following is an attempt at a sonnet in French (panic not! a translation, rough like sandpaper, follows). For those francophones who follow the blog, it is not really a sonnet in French, given the sketchy scansion and non-rhymes of some lines. So let’s call it a faux-sonnet, or a fauxnnet, shall we?

 

 

La Société Surréaliste
 
 
Les araignées et les citrouilles font la grève,
dans laquelle je vois des immeubles flambés,
allumés par les dalmatiens-pompiers.
Au jardin, un chameau lit un journal, fume, rêve

de l’avenir, de l’eau.  Il feint d’ignorer l’élève
qui essayait de nouer un plan.  Mais il s’est
noué dans ses idées.  Et le chameau, il sait
libérer cette peste—ils s'associent à la grève.

Les araignées, les citrouilles sont sérieuses
bien que le chameau et l’élève dansent et chantent
en écoutant la musique des manifestants.

Je me demande:  Comment on capte le merveilleux?
La télé montre cette spectacle obsolète
et n’importe où quelque dieu se gratte la tête.

The spiders and pumpkins are on strike,
in which I see burning buildings
lit by firefighter-dalmatians.
In the park, a camel is reading a newspaper, smoking, dreaming
 
of the future, of water.  He pretends to ignore the student
who is trying to come up with a plan. But he's caught
up in his own ideas.  And the camel, he knows
how to free this pain in the neck--they join the strike.
 
The spiders and pumpkins are serious
even though the camel and the student sing and dance
while listening to the music of the protestors.
 
I wonder:  How do you get the marvelous?
The TV captures this obsolete spectacle
and where ever you like, some god is scratching his head.

It’s got a funky beat, and I can really picket to it!

We all know about the ineffable quality of art—we can’t always explain why New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain” makes us feel better after a break-up, why CarlyRae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” makes us want to film parody videos, or why we stand immersed, overwhelmed by Monet’s “Water Lilies.” But the artists, they know what they’re doing—Jean-Paul Rappeneau is fully aware that pulling the camera up and away, through the trees, as “Cyrano de Bergerac” dies, will leave us with a pit in our stomach; Mel Brooks recognizes that his “Blazing Saddles” campfire scene will leave you laughing no matter how often you see it.

Every creator, from the painter to the director to the composer, wants to evoke something. Through pop stars and film noir cinéastes and the Surrealists, art has the power to provoke joy, fear, anger. Even action.

Yes, protest music.  Everyone should have their favorite artist or genre, and few genres protest better than hip hop.  It has made the likes of Public Enemy and Paris icons for their peers. And in France, the engagement of hip hop has moved to a completely different level.  IAM, Kéry James, Assassin, Saïan Supa Crew, Disiz la Peste. They all have something to tell you.

Today’s translation comes from France’s Le Monde newspaper, a short blog post from about two weeks ago. The subject: an employee in a soon-to-be closed automobile plant not far from Paris. It just so happens that this assembly line worker is also an emcee in the group Tango & Kash, who have one album to their name.  The power of art can voice your anger, and in this case, hip hop is that voice, the way for the plant workers at Aulnay to speak in their own defense.

Please, read the translation of the blog, then watch the music video. Even if you don’t understand all the lyrics, the images are powerful in themselves. At the very end, for those who speak French, you’ll find a short documentary-style clip where the emcee Kash is interviewed, then gives us a little a cappella excerpt of the song.

Here is the link to the original post at Le Monde.

Please enjoy.

*****

“Of course there’s anger when they talk about restructuring,
Smoke screen as dangerous as exhaust gas.
False hopes reduced to nothing,
in the rhythm of their pretty, feel-guilty speeches.”

 Putting faces and words on the anger felt by 3000 employees at the Aulnay-sous-Bois plant run by PSA Peugeot Citroën. That was the object of Franck Jautee, stage name Kash. When he’s not running a team of six workers on the assembly line of the plant, Franck Jautee runs raps with his group, Tango and Kash.  On July 12, when PSA announced the closing of the plant at Aulnay, his colleagues asked him to write a song, so tells us the blog Aulnay Stories, of France Télévisions, which chronicles the daily struggle of the workers of the plant.  “I said, ‘Okay, I’ll make the music, but at the end of the summer, you all have to be in the video.” A few months later, on January 30, with the help of two other hip hop and video devotees, Sébastien and Régis, the clip was posted on the Internet. The buzz built quickly: in a few days, the video “ Ça peut plus durer ” was seen by close to 20,000 viewers.

“Verbal hold-up, a liar since the beginning,
our boss has more vices than the dealers in our streets.”

The rap mixes the crafted texts of Franck Jautee with news reports on the announced closing of the plant. You can hear in them the voice of David Pujadas, the newscaster of France 2’s evening broadcast. You can also hear one of his questions: “How far are you willing to go? — We’ll stop at nothing, go all the way to the end.”  The camera shifts between the assembly lines, showing workers at their jobs, and at their picket lines. “Sadness, anger, worry, sacrifice, depression, discontent, it can’t go on any longer…” The 35-year-old rapper has a good feel for a turn-of-phrase. Under his pen, PSA becomes “Politics in the Service of the Shareholder” [“Politiques au Service d’Actionnaires”] and “Bosses Sabotaging the Future” [“Patrons Saboteurs d’Avenir”].

Fifty-five employees let themselves be filmed for the needs of the video, according to Aulnay Stories. “I had to show who the people of PSA are, those who are going to find themselves either on the streets or part of some iffy layoff schemes, hidden behind smoke screens,” Franck Jautee explains to the journalists of France Télévisions, “They are the ones who will suffer all of that, they’re the ones who hurt.”  The musician, a worker on strike, envisions his video as a tool in the hands of the workers of Aulnay. On the Youtube page of the clip, a union rep from Créteil asks permission to download the video to share.  “Be my guest, enjoy yourself” Kash tells him.

 

Here is some documentary-style footage from Francine Raymond & Ludovic Fossard, authors of the blog Aulnay Stories :

*****