Translated from the Argentinian Spanish by Gabriella Munoz

We have done well
We revealed to the world the selenites, so fragile they turn to dust with one blow
we portrayed the workers
proudly marching out from the factories
(before us, that place was reserved only for armies)
we saw cities grow upwards
and one of us, even
climbed a building to make the multitude laugh.
We were there too
when the giant monkey climbed the Empire State
and from there, punch-drunk in love, faced
the planes. Who else but us
could have dealt with those things?
Planes skyscrapers automobiles
Modern life
turned into a dance, or a circus show
We did that

(We’ve always liked skyscrapers
The Pirelli Tower in Milan, which Antonioni shows
At the beginning of La notte,
it only misses King Kong: it’s not necessary anymore. It’s already there, like a whirlpool,
like the two at the end of L’eclisse)

We also followed children
through the cities’ ruins
through the bombings
(no one better than children to move amidst the rubble)
we saw the ruins of Berlin
of Rome
but also of Koker
after the earthquake
(there, again, a tiny car
did the work that, before us, would be done by Eleonora Duse
or Sarah Bernhardt)
and we understood that sometimes, more than people talking
on a stage
it’s better to see them gaze. Stare in silence.
That was our talisman: show people staring,
showing what they looked at. The horizon
The rocky hills of Colorado and Utah
The smile of a girl at the beach
At sunrise (a smile
that says things Marcello doesn’t understand
because of the distance, or the sea clamour: there’s nothing to understand, Marcello
it’s just a smile
Just the girl
it’s la pura niña, la pura sonrisa, like they say in Chile)
we did that
a woman at the cinema cries watching Joan of Arc
another climbs the slope of a volcano erupting: our Saints
and our martyrs fall pierced by bullets
zigzagging the streets, all the way to the end of the road
death turns them into inebriated clowns
that fall, endless
like John Wayne in Liberty Valance, heartbroken
then, his dead is a box and a cactus. We’ll never see John Wayne dead
But Fonda,
Fonda dies in a cloud of dust
The apaches pass by and when they are gone he is already dead
(before that, he would apologise to his men
and Ward Bond has replied ‘save it for your grandchildren,’ which is a way of saying
‘fuck you’)
The Indians fall dead

One shot
while the horses keep on running
they fall dead, the Indians
and later, at the end of the day
somebody pays them for their deaths five dollars each

Fassbinder’s dead men have no blood
The fat lady in Strangers on a Train lets herself be strangled as if it were a game
samurai swords kill with one blow, one single line
as if it were a presidential sash or a football shirt
while Errol Flynn makes us watch two hours of bullshit
so that, at the end, we attend the miracle
of him, brandishing his sword
for ten minutes.
How many we have killed
and how beautifully!
We’ve been luckier in violence
than in love
Although the bride that wakes up
after her first night
in a barge
going down the impassive rivers, in the fog
between poplars that look like ghosts
it is – and here I speak for myself –
more exquisite than the anonymous cry
heard by Madame Bovary
when they found out that he has a lover.
And if our vision of love has been
somewhat naïve
it must be said we invented kissing
What was of the kiss before cinema?
Have you thought about it?
Not Fragonard not Botticelli
(not even Klimt)
have hit the bullseye, had understood
what to do with it
and us, just like that,
found there the mot de passe of physical love
the secret number
that any second-rate director was capable of achieving
(no need to be Klimt nor Botticelli)
and everyone understood
everyone would attend such an erotic pirouette
it was never necessary to show intercourse
(What for? Two intertwined mouths were enough
sometimes in the battle, sometimes sweetly
always like in an act of beautiful violence
I’ll tell you about my favourite
Cary Grant, the thief, has spent all night sitting at the table
of Grace Kelly
and her mother. They have drunk
the old woman is an American millionaire, who doesn’t stop celebrating Cary
like only an old American millionaire can afford
Grace, in turn, nothing
cold indifferent
miles away
doesn’t even see him
follows that game
Cary walks them
– first the mother –
to their bedrooms, in that same hotel. Walks next to Grace
the few metres that lead to her bedroom
and, there, Grace gives him a final kiss
an unexpected kiss, that seems to contain
all Erotica universalis
a kiss that seems to hold the desire
of all the lovers
of all the men and women in the world
and that she gives it on their behalf
like a priestess
or a Virgin)

All that we’ve done
since we broke into the scene, there were no princes
no more heroes, no more glory
only us
and even Hitler, to get attention, had
(perhaps unconsciously)
to look like Chaplin
and all the innocents he killed
in his gas chambers served no purpose
since in California, safe from their armies and bombs
the Jewish from Berlin, from Vienna, from Belarus
his enemies
had already build their homeland one homeland
where there was no jail
only the sheltering darkness and the light of the screen that shines
a homeland
to where Fritz Lang had fled when Goebbels wanted to catch him
giving him little less than the Wehrmacht
Who needs the Wehrmacht who needs  Goebbels?
who needs Thea Von Harbou
who needs all that shit
when you have  Lubitsch?

We’ve done enough, yes
(and it’s not because I’m trying to sound like Godard
that I permit myself this
enumeration. More, I would say,
In those poems he thinks of
the towers built by his elders
by generations of Stevensons for over a century
and he smiles content
even though he doesn’t build lighthouses
the lighthouses are there and him, somehow
is a part of that) Me too.
I caught the train without paying the ticket, like an enemy once told me. He was right.
But now, with or without a ticket
I’m on the train
and I like the landscape I see
through the window
the light illuminating the fields
the small towns spread all over
the outskirts the barnyards the abandoned houses
the empty buildings
the backside of things
and that whistle
that I heard in the distance when I was a child
that made me think of

Places afar, in the night
that whistle
Now it’s me, sometimes
a few nights a year
who makes it sound.

We’ve done enough, then.
Specially you: I barely
smoke cigars like Welles
and repeat a few tricks
to keep it up
but you, well:
Le donne I cavalier le Arme gli amori
Le cortesie l’audace imprese io canto
That’s what you did. What we did
the world gave us that task, for a while
at least
I believe we have accomplished. Congratulations,
mates. It’s so beautiful
to be next to you, to fight
for your side
entertaining the just
tricking the despots
and pulling the mask out of the phonies!
What a beautiful war, my brothers

We’ll be here
as long they let us.

About The Author

Mariano Llinás is an actor, screenwriter, producer and filmmaker living and working in Buenos Aires. He is part of El Pampero Cine.

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