Jorge Santiago Perednik: 'The Great Skidder' (from 'Shock of the Lenders')

Translation from Spanish by Molly Weigel

Three little birds up on a wire

were singing "tu amor, tu amor"

or maybe "tu est mort"

the one on the left holding some grass in its beak

the one in the middle saying this is the real wire

the one on the right asking what happens when the wire ends

I thought they were the three stooges

and also the holy trinity

the crackbrained father and son and the crackbrained ghost


in the nest the mother is the only absolute

therefore the son doesn't exist,

or the son is the only absolute

therefore the mother dissolves into

unreachable certainty

the bark, the mud, the twigs

dissolve beyond the temporal the storm

the poem incompletes itself

if death is feminine and life neutral, nothing is…?

Eve, the poem, had no mother; do I erase her?

either the nest is not a nest,

or I never saw the eyes of a mother,

I always shut the windows on this comedy of errors

I skid

I skid

I skid


nest unmessed

there's nobody in the place

the cars brake and look



the naked woman who draws attention


drives the penultimate word

gets distracted and lost


poetry is monologue

the negation of insertion

or poetry is the wire

the exigency of transit

or the monolagabble

an empty nest

a woman with

a man with no identity

whose movement

of identity

flags flutter by rote in the decorated wind

flap flap flap

whatever its colors be

they're the sure summer:

they wear as the last word

in the upper left corner

the molesting item

a sickle and a roulette wheel

the diabolical definition declaims

to skid is to escape the kid

to skip the id

the bourgeois delirium over the rotten apples of the great


the inferno is the contrary of the ferno and the ferno is

the dream of all flags with the eternity of


the desert is the negation of the sert and the sert is

this lumpen mammal that never manages to exist

outside of dreams and deliriums

when the evidence that there's no death dies

wham! the prison sentence to the instant is reborn

the handsome brother was wounded by my hand

the hand that I severed and that is now hers

politely I persevere: it's the world not us

that's landed belly up

could it be otherwise?

my son abandoned me to look at me

lying belly up

from far, far away

he abandoned me because he was scared

does that mean I abandoned him?

I read

why did I abandon him


why have you forsaken me, why have you forsaken me

I skid

I skid

I remember the anecdote:

why did you abandon me

I put a bandoneon on the bar

so as not to play it

an amulet

so as not to mull it

so mulish

I listened to the murmurs and shouted, no, no, no!

Saint Peter's question:

how do you tell it to a little pore

and to an even smaller one?

is there anything smaller than the smallest pore?

and I said there wasn't, no,

and smiling

I had to cover my mouth:

I had contracted doubt

I had negated infamous infinity



I drive back


answering the trinitary question:

I've been dead for quite a while

I leave


the three birds on a wire:

gone: they flew:

there is no eternity:

there's accident:

a prayer and an order:

if nothing comes to pass everything comes to pass


I said no, that had not, that


is to say, that no

and I said no, no, no

I said: no

I said: no



[NOTE. The Shock of the Lenders (Action Books, 2012), from which this poem is taken, is the first major attempt to bring Jorge Perednik’s poetry into English. Before his death in 2011 he was known to many of us as an active & powerful presence in Latin American & world poetry, both through his always surprising & eruptive poetry & through his direction of two key experimental journals, Xul and Deriva, both published from his writing base in Buenos Aires. My own chance to be with him came during a visit to South America in 2004, when he dazzled me both with his own poetry & with a translation of “Cokboy,” a poem of mine with features like pseudo-dialect & related word play that make it difficult to translate into most other languages. For the record, then, the following is the opening of Cokboy along with Jorge’s attempt at a transcreation of my partially yiddishized English into a similarly yiddishized Spanish:

saddlesore I came
a jew among
the indians
vot em I doink in dis strange place
mit deez pipple mit strange eyes
could be it's trouble
could be could be
(he says) a shadow
ariseth from his buckwheat
has tomahawk in hand
shadow of an axe inside his right eye
of a fountain pen inside his left … 

llegué lastimado por la montura
un judío entre los indios
quié hague yo en este lugar extrañe
mit este gente mit ojes extrañes
poide ser sea problema
poide ser poide ser
una sombra surge de su trigo sarraceno
tiene en la mano un tomahawk
en su ojo derecho la sombra de un hacha
en el izquierdo la de una pluma fuente … 

My admiration & pleasure in what he’s done here & elsewhere are as great as I can make them. (J.R.)]