Evolving game

Manuel Fihman                                                                               in Spanish  



                                                                   …on change dans la vie, on évolue,

                                                                   et comme l’exocet pourchassé par le congre

                                                                   se sent pousser des ailes, Olympie s’adapte.

                                                                   -Eric Chevillard





The offspring move                 mandible jointed   it moves up and down like clouds

                                                sometimes do   and from side to side as all clouds do

                                                at night   it allows transparent and dense saliva to flow

                                                upon drying   it has the appearance of milk sand   an ink


some mornings   the offspring is in the garden   they play   their bodies transform

breastplates open   out of holiness   flesh becomes sectioned   thorax upon thorax

the bony orbits expand and become disconnected   its eyes are uncovered


(hybridization is a childish game)


they are Lemuriformes   bear the appearance of ghost and monkey in the morning

in fact   that is the moment when the breastplate sheds its flesh and flowers

the entire bony plain vibrates in homage to ruffled lemurs and howling monkeys

later   each tentacle segments and takes on the hardness of something dry and alive




The offspring move                 the tongue dances inside while the breath does its thing

                                                that is how they learn   about ghosts   the ancestral line

                                                they are Arthropods   Passeriformes   Quelonii

                                                the ones who cry over their open chests


                                                (centipede   hummingbird   tortoise   the bisected one

                                                sometimes the vulgar is oddly   strangely elegant)


this is the most ancient cellular agglomeration   a lovely conspiracy of genes

two rivers flow from the garden as a helix   if one believes in that kind of thing

one for her   one for him   both for the great lizard   if you believe


the fiction that is the architectural acid fills the invisible cathedrals

each organ a gospel   the most beautiful   the least useful

the vestige of a voyage   (no destination or progress on this trip   only movement)


to catch bubbles in their gossamer helms   they want to become sea spiders

in order to eat fold-rich frogs and salamanders they want to be giant waterbugs

(the game includes the use of little sticks as stilettos   trembling beneath the lip

and since it is a game   no one can see the hand which holds it   it is an organ)




The offspring move                 their entire body articulated into a thousand sections

                                                one for each ancestor   ghost people   ape people

                                                one for each ancestor   flora people   spider people


the offspring is in the garden building a babel with a sweet nucleus

it is fond of mules   fond of alloys   fond of games


it chews on leaves to be poisoned by latex and to move the unhinged bodies

each tentacle clutches a leaf   each section swells   rebellious


it chews cane and sand and powdered milk to make their grand white night ink

to decorate lips   teeth   tongues   uvulas   to become bleached


that is why it moves   at play   lets the wind blow up its skirt   lets scatter

its seeds   colonizers   shoals   collections of ascending cells


the game has no impunity   but there is amnesty

                      no justice      but there is mercy


and at night   the offspring shuts its mouth   to silence the game’s aches

each swollen section releases the fever   each bone contains the growing pain

what is rigid becomes soft   flaccid   sets along with the evening sun


the game has wisdom   but camouflaged   subterranean

               has hierarchies   but free of obligations   pliant




The clouds move                     extinguish certain sounds   their excesses   they limit

                                                the repercussions of certain words with their tongues

                                                they chase the players with their extinguished eyes

                                                the false gaze of the monkey ghost   its pale eyes


                                                (to say pale is to take a shortcut   it means yellow and green                                                 and pale   means ashen and white as clouds

                                                as a certain horse   as a thousand diseases

                                                and a thousand feathered and scaled and floral lineages)


the clouds move along the vista   are transformed into tentacles   sections

they become pieces and gather   as if someone had sprinkled quicksilver in ditches

small ones   ditches to play at river and stars   hoping for hardening


the feathered lineages go in and out of the clouds   the river’s roar frightening them

they lose   lose feathers   the ape lineages collect them   the floral lineages eat them

just like the stiletto game   they eat them in play to feel the other   to ape

the floral lineages’ mimicries are close   are called   in play   pistils

(as an example we say pistil and not petal)


the game has winners and losers

when playing against the clouds   the birds lose

when playing against the apes   everyone loses




The lineages move                   become and lose flesh   bloom and die in the garden

                                                everything is written down in night ink on the targets

                                                thus the stilettos and roots know where to aim


(mutation is child’s play)


another morning   and they are unique Pelecaniformes   feathered whale heads

look like pelicans and storks and whales in the morning   various structures open


the ditches and channels in that beautiful imaginary head fill with spermaceti

the game is learning to see with it   to see without pale eyes and with sea wax

the game is learning to swim in air   to move guided by quicksilver of the sea


now they lose feathers   not out of fright but out of modesty   so as not to brag

so as not to boast about their prey by painting their faces with blood   like apes


the game rewards modesty   though it does not punish hypocrisy

the game believes in evens   but also odds


there is no progress   merely movement


everything mimics the orchid and its counterpart

everything mimics the bond between link and link

everything is broken and strung in this line




The line moves                        like a needle passing through reptile tongues

                                                like a ring breaking mammal septa

                                                made from frozen mercury until hardened

                                                or alloyed with the pale ape’s pale silver


the movement in this case could be the tremor appropriate to a state of fear

otherwise   it is the movement from living to dead   from organic to inorganic


this exists   even that which never was and never will be in the garden exists

even fire exists   if one believes in such things   fires other

than the synaptic or the red hue of certain bloods   certain feathers and pistils


(mimicry is child’s play)


eels are pertinent




The categories become contrivances            they harden just like the thoraxes

                                                                     the fixing of ideas on the lobe

                                                                     a finger moving over warm clay


if one believes in such things   clay is a genetic principle   the opposite and reflection

the aggregation of silicates   the decomposition of the organic towards the inorganic

that giant centipede moves through the brush towards the nest   eats the tiny bird

it is eaten by a chameleon   that chameleon devours a tiny waterbug

it is eaten by a civet   that civet eats a small gibbon   and falls

into a trap   everything is recorded in the flesh   even its random movements


the game is swollen with breath

it is an old fruit on the tree

it forces them to think about the smell of the world




The offspring move                 in rafts of vegetation   small accidents

                                                no difference between floral people and ape people

                                                no difference between bat people and feathered people

                                                biological dispersion   magnificent vestiges

                                                expelled from the garden to the garden   if one


do not touch the water   or the sharks   crabs   anemones   algae win

do not touch the light   or the cats   canines   raptors   lizards win

do not touch night   nor underground   nor mountain   nor plain   nor ice   nor volcano


thus is the game played   daily   in the garden



Translated by the author



Manuel Fihman is a Venezuelan poet and translator. His work has been published in Venezuela, Spain, Mexico and the United States. He is the author of Caballos hebreos (Caracas: Eclepsidra, 2012).