Ray Gonzalez: Two Poems


Genital Emotion

I saw that phrase scrawled somewhere, maybe on a city wall or in a magazine ad, perhaps on a blackboard in a classroom where I teach. Genital Emotion. Is it saying genitals have feelings beyond the standard in-and-out? Does it refer to physical power and the kind of feelings the fucker puts into it? Perhaps genital emotion means sections of the body have feelings beyond what we know and this has nothing to do with sex, but simply refers to a sensitive, caring penis or a deeply insightful vagina. Even the idea of the body carrying its sexual organs in various states of being without relying on the old in-and-out, is an attractive concept that may have inspired someone to leave the words Genital Emotion hanging there. After all, I can’t find the exact place where I spotted the handwriting, though my mind keeps wandering to the image of a colorful sign, maybe a label on a pair of underwear, even the empty condom wrapper some joker left on the men’s bathroom floor by the classroom, the corridor leading to the urinals one of the coldest places in the old brick building.

Roberto Bolano and Fernando Pessoa Play Scrabble

Roberto Bolano puts the word “burn” on the letter board. Fernando Pessoa makes a face, then connects “renounce.” He uses all seven letters and adds an extra 50 points to his score. Bolano stares at the board, then spells “carp.” Pessoa adjusts his eyeglasses and places “portion.” Bolano is eighty points behind Pessoa and is upset. He is not used to losing at Scrabble and this is the first time he has played with Pessoa, who he has carried in his back pocket for years. Pessoa waits patiently for the young man’s next word, which is “tip.” “Tip?” Pessoa asks in a quiet voice. Bolano sits back in his chair, sweat starting to run down his forehead. “Yes, tip.” Pessoa removes his black hat to ask “What is the meaning of tip?” Bolano sits back, his long hair falling over his face. “You are asking for the meaning of tip?” “Yes,” Pessoa says. Bolano shuffles the remaining letters in the cardboard box.

“I don’t have a definition for the word tip,” he admits. “Tip of the world? Leave a tip for the poor waiter? The tip of your penis?” Bolano stops as Pessoa’s white hand sets “tiger” on the board. “Tiger?” Bolano asks. Pessoa nods, then looks over his shoulder as they hear a knock at the door. “It must be Borges,” Pessoa says. “He’s always late but loves to play.” Bolano opens the door, but there is no one there. He comes back to his chair. “Why did you think it was Borges?” Bolano asks. Pessoa shakes his head without saying a word.

Roberto Bolano and Fernando Pessoa play Scrabble for the first time in literary history, two writers with their blocks of letters and their competitive banter. Bolano’s best words are “mission,” “compost,” “insincere,” and “llama.” Pessoa wins the game by 168 points, words like “entertain,” “situation,” “dorsal” and “saturation” sending him to victory. Pessoa shakes hands with Bolano, who can’t sleep that night and stares at the dark walls of his room as he lies in bed. “The tip of the tiger,” he whispers to himself.

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