Juana Adcock – Manca

Poems by Juana Adcock, the Mexican-Scottish poet selected as one of the ‘New Voices from Europe’.

Posted by Luka Ostojic on 19 August 2016 Literary Europe Live, Literature Across Frontiers

 

Written by Juana Adcock.

Poems from the collection Manca

***


ONE-HANDED

Last Thursday I got up and decided to cut off my hand. I saw it all very clearly and when I see something very clearly I don’t dither even one second. The ultimate work of art or something like that, though I think I thought it would grow back, like hair does. I started with the left ring finger. Cut just below the knuckle, flexing the finger to see better where to cut. Like cutting up a chicken. Blood didn’t spurt out. The knife was serrated and didn’t have much of an edge, but it didn’t really need one. Then the middle finger. Then the pinky. A bit of bone was left sticking out of the flesh. Half the job done I changed my mind: I remembered that the fingers do not grow back, so I left on the thumb and index finger, in order to retain some of the hand’s functionality. A bandage to hide the wound. How long will it take to scar over? Interview with my father: now how are you going to work, to write? I almost always write in the notebook, or I can use voice recognition software. It occurs to me that if I learned to play the piano I’d be a lot better. With my feet. I could design some pedals…

Every day since then the knuckles left over drive me out of my wits. My bony hands. Meanwhile I work serving coffee in a café that has three storeys. I have to learn to organize myself properly according to my abilities, and remember things, and bring up the trays in the right order to avoid too much coming and going

 

PENNIES, OR HOW I SINGLE-HANDEDLY GOT US OUT OF THE CRISIS

When I arrived to the so-called united
kingdom reigned by automatons and charlatans my money
soon ran out. I found in the pantry
of the humble hostal that housed me a big jarfull
of brown penny conserve, organic and handmade in a farm in the north of France.
From that vital jelly I started stealing, a bit at a time,
to buy a pint of milk, any bread.
I rummaged too
through bins for dispersed spaghetti strands,
for peppers almost rotting.
Often in my last moments of hope
I found in a puddle a heavy pound coin
then I invested it all at once
an offering from the god of money to the god of cacao.
I stole the apples fallen to the pavement
I stole plastic rings from pound shops
I rose at dawn to slave at the till,
the coins that fell as I cashed up
stapling through my temples with their high-pitched
smell of gunshots in lands of other men stolen by other men.
It’s not mine, it’s not mine, it’s not mine, it’s not mine, it’s not yours, it’s not theirs,
/ it’s not ours.
How many times did I walk for hours for lacking
the last missing penny for my bus fare.
But one day I cracked it: I remembered the jar of conserve, always full, no matter
/ how much I stole.
What we needed was to plant pennies on the pavement
to gift ourselves a feeling of abundance—a penny a day
keeps your bad luck away. The sole
speculation magical intention
that transforms self-referencing money
into self-referencing money. The god of money is circular:
may it not stagnate, may it—meagre as milk—never run out
just like cows when they pour themselves out
or that clear
whisky first currency of Scotland
usige beatha first water of life
pissed out of a cow

 

BENEDICTION

I throw my mobile phone
into the toilet
flush
wait a while
call myself
leave myself voicemail
may it reach a disoriented crocodile
some nuclear seaweed
an unavoidable concrete wall:

may your head be blessed
by an X flown by four birds
may your feet be blessed
by the worms that will eat you
may your hands be blessed
by the azaleas you didn’t plant
may your navel be blessed
by the cells of your breath
may your mouth bless
it all, bless.

 

PAGA LA RENTA

Paga la renta, or do what it takes
do your own thing, encuentra tu own voice, tu place propio de tí
where you shall be rey, where you shall not stand
yourself, y necesitarás cafés and shops, salir y chiflarte,
cheer yourself up, y qué otra cosa podrías hacer, and how to afford this kind of luxury,
/ but to slave away, pero hey!
esto ya lo sabíamos de antemano
Y asi, con los bolsillos repletos de cachivaches
for we
are most artfully caged

 

 

New Voices from Europe

Juana Adcock has been selected as one of the New Voices from Europe, ten of the most interesting writers working in Europe today. The New Voices from Europe selection is part of the Literary Europe Live project which is co-ordinated by Literature Across Frontiers and co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, with support from Arts Council Wales.