Elías Veiga- Robinson Astur

feb5

Last Tuesday
The men from the council
Put out
Three waste containers
Next to the church.
It’s about time
Now there’s hardly anyone left
In the village:
Four pensioners
With an old cow
And four chickens.
All the young men
Work away
In construction
Or on the roads.
Now and again they’ll bring back a girl
And they always say:
“this is so lovely”
And “what a lovely village”
But end up going back where they came from.
Last week,
Eight days ago today,
Marcial died from the Xuaca house.
Seventy years old.
Thirty underground.  Miner.
In the morning
When I went to throw out the rubbish
I saw his clothes in some bags
Inside one of the recently-installed containers.
Is this what is left of a man when he dies?
Is this the trace we leave?
Shadows of memory
And a rank greasy smell of sadness
And solitude.
I picked this book up because I was attracted by the title Robinson Astur (Universos: Mieres, 2008).  In Spain generally there is a tendency to put your regional identity forward strongly: in León the market will be MercaLeon, in Bilbao the buses are Bilbobus and here the shopping centre is ParqueAstur.  The Astures were the pre-Roman indigenous people about whom little is known besides the pejorative things the Romans had to say about them.  They did not have a literary culture and seemed to have a tribal culture like the Highland Scots, living by hunting and raiding cattle.  Veiga is making Robinson Crusoe into an Astur.

So the title is an ironic joke.  I like irony in blogs and satire but it is dangerous in serious writing.  The collection does a good job of keeping itself this side of outright dark humour as you can see in this poem.  When I read it to myself I enjoyed it, but when I read it out loud to Carmen to see whether she would give it the thumbs up for the blog it became something else: the last three lines were like a slap in the face; it acquired a new intensity.  The mention of the miner Marcial made me think of the Roman poet Martial.  He was born in Calatayud and  said he was descended from Celts and Iberians and also had a good way with a sharp ending.

Here is another poem called The Transformation:

¡Ai!

 I’ve made myself a scuzz-ball
With bad breath
And unshaven face,
One of those vegetables who spend the day
Lounging on the sofa,
Dozing off
With the TV going
And a belly full of beer.

Damn the day I left you for no reason,
No reason other than that you loved me too much:
My life is now a topsy turvey house,
A rudderless boat, with no pattern,
In hopeless misery.
I who could run five thousand metres
In less than twenty minutes,
I who whistled in the shower in the mornings,
I who changed the sheets

Every week..
What happened to me, Gregor Samsa?
What animal or monster
Have I been changed into now?

About Jason Preater

Working on Projects
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6 Responses to Elías Veiga- Robinson Astur

  1. pierrmorgan says:

    These are both wonderful. And the art you’ve placed next to them match well. I understand what you mean by “slap in the face” though the question/comment of the last three lines doesn’t feel abrupt to me. Maybe inevitable? And I still like where it leads. Makes me think. “The Transformation” made me laugh out loud. Though bittersweet? Both poems are honest.

    Like

  2. julespaige says:

    Thank you for your visit, It lead me to read this post. It is chilling to think of what any person will leave as a legacy. Perhaps, and that is a big maybe artists and writers are lucky in that they do leave something tangible. Though the volumes of tomes may sit and gather dust and great arts may be stored and boxed in attics…perhaps, maybe someday they will be found and treasured.

    I enjoyed both pieces. Sometimes we get to be more involved with the choices of our lives.

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  3. Yes, and I love finding an old bookshop and seeing what there is to find. Elias Veiga is a very well-read poet who wears his learning lightly. I am impressed by his lightness of touch.

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  4. julespaige says:

    I am not exactly sure where to direct you, but somewhere in your settings at WP I believe you have an option to allow notifications of your replies when others comment on one of your posts. I did not get a notice of this reply, but I do get notifications (between the New Post and your name up there in the top right) when other WordPress site holders reply to comments that I have left on their sites. Just thought you’d like to know.

    Like

  5. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll look into that.

    Like

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