Don Nadie


Don Nadie
walks past the Jesuit Church
where the shoe-shine boys
store their stands at night.

He walks past
the tiny seat where
the gay guys sit
and caress each other
asking the unsuspecting
for unexpected dates.

Nobody asks him
for a match,
for a drink,
for money,
for charity,
for a walk down the alley
to the cheap hotels

The Yalalag witch
doctor sees things
other men don’t see.

He stretches out his hand
and brushes the mosquito
from Don Nadie‘s nose.

“Brother,” he smiles.
“I too have lost the way.”

Don Nadie is the one
who stops the hands
on all the clocks
at midnight.

He’s the one who leaves
this place and comes to this place,
all places being one

Don Nadie thinks
he knows who he is,
but he can no longer
sense his blood in the mirror
as the razor blade draws
its thin red scratch
across the dry husks of his soul.

Don Nadie,
my lookalike, my twin,
stares back at me
from the shop window
and I gaze into his eyes

In the back of the weavers’ shop,
three witches watch us.

One spins the yarn,
one measures the cloth,
one wields
the obsidian knife,

that will one day
sever the thread of our lives:

gimiendo gemelo,
hipócrito rector.

23 thoughts on “Don Nadie

  1. Brilliant. Love the tri lingual joke even though I would have never have got it without reading your explanation. But I love the fact that it was meant to conceal and not reveal. I am a big fan of Bacon’s quote that the artists job is to deepen the mystery. I also love Baudelaire as all in all winner winner chicken dinner

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much. My purchase of the Petits poemes en prose from a bouquiniste along the banks of the Seine, many years ago, when I was living and studying in Paris, was an eye-opener. I had not really thought of poetry in prose at that time and I was taken aback by the clarity and the quality of the writing … superb. I possessed and was reading Les Fleurs du Mal at the time, with my likes and dislikes, but the prose poems just blew me away.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! And thank you so much, especially for the multiple reads. It is heavily inter-layered as are all the Oaxacan poems. The last two lines are my idea of a tri-lingual joke. I have already explained them away on e-mail to a couple of friends. I am not sure whether I should “reveal all” as it will diminish the mystery, but here goes:

      Now: gimiendo gemelo, hipócrito rector — this is a trilingual joke and I wonder how many people will actually get it. It’s meant to conceal, not reveal, but for you, all things shall be revealed. Of course, that will reveal me as a fraud … not that I’m worried, I always knew I was …

      1. The original quote comes from Charles Baudelaire, Néphilobate (Greek for a person who loves watching clouds) in Petits Poèmes en prose. Hypocrite lecteur. Mon semblable. Mon frère.

      2. This is borrowed by Eliot in The Waste Land:

      There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Stetson!
      You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
      That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
      Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
      Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
      Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
      Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
      You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”

      3. I have used it in Don Nadie, first in English:

      Don Nadie,
      my lookalike, my twin,
      stares back at me
      from the shop window
      and I gaze into his eyes

      and then translated into Spanish, but with a couple of twists:

      gimiendo gemelo, hipócrito rector

      gimiendo / wailing or whining
      gemelo / twin, usually of the same sex, twin brother in this case

      hipócrito / a hypocrite (an easy one!)
      rector / instead of lector; lecteur / lector would be reader, but rector is the co-rector, the one who corrects and tells us what to do. I think of it as my conscience …

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah! Writers are always re-purposing material and putting their own spin on it, it’s great especially when you do it well.
        And thank you so much for revealing some of your thought processes for the symbolism that showed up 🙂 I don’t think I would have come to see all of these one my own, and I know the struggle of not wanting to reveal to much!

        Liked by 2 people

      • The conceal / reveal conundrum has been with us for a long time. One of my problems is working with three languages (English, French, Spanish) and sometimes four (Latin, as in the Empress of Ireland). When a phrase is so apt in one, how can I not use it? I find Pound and Eliot, among others, difficult precisely because they do insert other languages. Maybe being in NAFTA helps (English, French, Spanish). Thank you for the comment: great feedback.

        Liked by 2 people

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