Poetry by Victoria Cóccaro


It’s in the Future

Marcos is in the future
Waiting for us
Dani is in the future
Waiting for us
Or without waiting for us
There he remains
Music is in the future
Waiting for us
But it’s also in the past
Waiting for us
Likewise poetry
That always waits for us
In the future is
What my friend is telling me right now
Because we’ve talked about it so many times
In the future is my cat Future
Because he’s eternal
In reality
We are all eternal
Like tattoos
That last forever
In the future there’s the car
That’s coming for us tomorrow
26th of July, 60 degrees
Matu waits for us in the future
In the images he creates
All those things
That we were carrying
Wait for us together in the future
Headphones of the future
Cables of the future
Instruments of the future
Are the sounds of the future
That always wait for us in secret
Now I can write because of the sounds of the future
Because over the course of all those years
I heard the sounds of the future
That my friends make
And those who aren’t my friends
But who wait for me
I know that I’ll listen to the future
The next time we play
And if it’s not like that
Better not to play
Music is a language of the future
There it is
Waiting for us
In the future stars
Shine in the dark sky
Like the curve of the knife’s blade
Just sharpened on the table
Relaxes in the future
In a silver static
Celeste flies towards the future
In the birds that she paints
Agostina thinks of the future
As a science that reveals itself daily
In the future the gold
Of the electric tubes
Stirs up the air in front of them
All the translations of all the poems
Wait for us in the future
The future now settles slowly on me
Aldo in his ship
Writes in the future
Arturo is another
Here in the future
I met my friends in the future
So now we face one another in silence
In the future is
What we can read in the past
That’s to say
The present
That’s to say
The legible ruins of what we did
Of what happens and what emerges in
All the present that’s in the future


The Things That Govern Us

That we are the things that govern us. That those things can be many. The deception of a long lost bleached blonde friendship when neither was aware of what they were doing: get togethers in her house or in my house, waiting for the first trace of the day that all the same didn’t matter much, even though there was so much to do.

Youth versus fatigue, nonexistent fatigue in the face of the feeling that it wasn’t enough.

I’m writing now about a lost friendship that maybe never mattered much, I’m writing now about a loss and irrelevantly the wind brushes the wooden casing, the lacquer expands the joint with the window that also doesn’t know if its friendship with the plant, that’s been growing now for months just millimeters away, matters.

In the meantime a friend is writing about another friend going to an English city in a time long gone, where they would meet if the second friend would have also written the name of that English city today.

The indecision in the comfort of the quotidian, Cat at the foot or the head of the bed.

Another friend today took pleasure in the hatred that awakens in her the betrayal of the things that govern us. But she also took pleasure in the betrayal of her first calling with the awakening of another: scenes, people, representation, little dramas.

I hope Cat decides on the head because it governs me; it’s cold and its radiant warmth helps me evaporate into dreams. Cat grows day after day and every so often cries in the night in the hallway as if it weren’t her house. As though noises had unsettled her and she responds as if an exact and frenetic movement of her head would be able to stop the frequency of the sound wave that alters her. That alters us.

In the meantime, now that my friend is revising the text that he sent at nightfall, I think about it during the reading and continue the memory to bring myself to the encounter in that English city that once I name it is mine.

As the black ink advances on the page and through the hours of the night, I follow the movement of an Atlantic wave and arrive on the East Coast of the country to the North. At the moment it’s easier to descend dry from an airplane in the exact city where he is teaching a class in a university or speaking about the things he does, about the things that govern us, the things he does that nobody did before now or maybe nobody spoke about those things they did before him until now and so didn’t do them, and so he is the first and advances a foot like a lightweight conquistador, friendly, incisive. So he talks about the things that govern us and his listeners blink and his words govern them.

The rays of light, of the accelerating tube that drives everyone equally to the exit, the cats now line up at my feet in two adjacent rays contiguous to my grandmother’s scarf that I put on in part as decoration and in part for warmth. The rays of light appear to flicker but it’s only the effect of the hallway, the end of a tube and the beginning of the next with the dark break in the false roof of the airport. My head is the confused point of the infinite “i”s of the tubes of light. An airport shaped like an “i”.

I’m afraid of being a terrorist in the eyes of the officer at the counter for non-resident immigrants or non-immigrant tourists or travelers passing through with temporary visas; I’m afraid of being a terrorist because a couple of times just this month I looked for the word terrorist and now I have related spam. What’s more, I have in my backpack a book, El Talibán. For the officer’s question about my belongings at the counter for entrants I have the following answers: that it was a gift, that I bought it for a friend I’m going to visit who asked for it, that I have it for work, that I am going to translate it, that I don’t know what it says, that I don’t speak Spanish, that I don’t understand poetry, that someone left it in my backpack before I left, that it’s a surprise, that I wanted El caliban, no, El talismán, and the bookseller was confused, that I won it in a raffle. All are a little risky so I think that if I’m really going to bring the Taliban in my backpack, then maybe I’ll cover it with a page of a magazine or the New York Times to throw them off.

I’m thinking about all of this because once again it’s nighttime and I can’t sleep because of the noises in the house, my house that I don’t recognize at night. I’m also thinking that I’m capable of neither synthesis nor precision and so all night I’m going to be trying to describe the exact millisecond in which I’m writing now and in which my friend is editing his text and the fact that in that English city he’ll meet up with someone else, also a friend, that he is definitely calling on Skype that city where it’s already daytime, and if I continue like this it’s going to become nighttime there in the North and he’ll already have finished dinner and will surely have heard the snow on the other side of the window and he’ll think of me in the armchair of the living room he’s temporarily inhabiting. Governed a little by the snow and a bit by the enormous mountains that form the die-cut landscape in the background up there in the first world while the air of the living room that becomes his bedroom after dinner grows colder in the darkening of the American house, spacious and light, governed by the end of the day when it seems like things are shutting down but they actually continue moving. The ice freezes a bit more in the “icebox” (would the hosts say it like that in their Spanish?). The clothing stays damp in the closet, the just-washed hair gets the pillowcase wet, the heating pad warms the covers, autumn makes the fans of the air conditioners on the patio spin, eyes grow puffy again because of the sleep that doesn’t come, the air freezes a bit in the bedroom, the indecisive neighbors open and close the windows, up and down, and the failures of the hermetically-sealed home resonate.

One hour more of typing, one hour less of sleep because of the things that govern us. He thinks of the snow as the oil of a machine that works inside the mountains, that makes the things that govern us appear and disappear, he hears the snow and feels warm because it’s far away. The rooms are very big and the “wee” windows (would they say it like that in their Spanish?). The ratio would put the perspective in a line of distance: armchair-snow-mountain-machine.

To once again invoke an impression: next to the tent the continuity of a river that ran and ran, governed by its things that governed it. As for the snow, I’m remembering now that verse of Daniel’s that I translated as “the moon bright white over the cold bones.” Even though in reality it was altering the original syntax, it seems to me he’d like it, that the dance works. The only time I wrote about the moon I said that the moon blazed on the backs of our hands because the warm light fell beyond the ridge of the mountain range and what was cold was the dark of the night and not the white of the moon.

Piercing the window of the American living room, the refracted beam of light enters through the sheets of snow, the honeycomb pattern of snowflakes, a geometry over the pillow, coolers with delicate hexagons would break under the outstretched palm of the hand and the hand would be wearing an elastic netted glove: a virtual holographic mobile mesh that over wifi captures the exact movements and copies them onto a 3D image on the screen. There are two pairs of hands: one virtual, the other real, but in reality the two are both so real that they write the same thing on contiguous planes of material, one in the air and the other in plasma.

Once again I got up at whatever hour to sit with myself writing about what I can’t do—sleep—or what I do do—stay awake and write. Night replaces the day and the day blurs white on white outlines in degrees of clarity. The autumn brings cones of paper to the sky that is protected by that megaphone of cellophane or wax paper. In the north it’s already after breakfast, I don’t know if he is there, I didn’t sign on so that I would stay writing about what I can’t do or about what I can do, it’s all the same, the thing is that what to do and what not to do are the same things if they are the things that govern us. To write and to linger, to come in and to destroy the things that govern us to see if the day is made longer, the dream shorter, or if it at least comes when it should and the pale sun leaves on time.


Victoria Cóccaro

Victoria Cóccaro was born in Buenos Aires in 1984. She studied literature at the University of Buenos Aires as an undergraduate, and with a CONICET fellowship she is currently pursuing a doctorate there. She has published essays and academic articles, writing about the role of the body in contemporary Argentine and Brazilian poetry, and her books of poetry include El plan (Colección Chapita, 2009), Hotel (Gigante, 2013), and Eléctricos de sombra (Fadel & Fadel, 2016). With Rebekah Smith, she translated into English Pablo Katchadjian’s el cam del alch (the rou of alch) (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016). She currently teaches classes on literary theory and criticism at The University of the Arts in Buenos Aires, and also coordinates poetry and literary programming at La Sede, a cultural space in the Villa Crespo neighborhood.

Rebekah Smith

Rebekah Smith translates, teaches at LaGuardia Community College, and edits at Ugly Duckling Presse.

Eléctricos de sombra. Copyright (c) Victoria Cóccaro, 2016. English translation copyright (c) Rebekah Smith, 2017.