The shadow tall and lean, inspired by a lighthouse, squints at the Merlion. My morning behavior skips breakfast just to tell my body to overcome the effects of the Merlion. People at the pet store are quitting their jobs only to watch the Merlion spurt water from its mouth like the tunnels of human love. The newly admitted patient who is seen from the open window waves at the Merlion. Clairvoyants finally predict a winner with the face of Singapura tattooed on the mythic scales of the Merlion. Lovers split, fully convinced about the Mertiger calling itself no more as the Merlion. Children down 10,000 bottles of Yakult so they can help the Merlion save this lion city and the sea overflowing with centillion neon. The televangelist reports about a new miracle and how it takes advantage of the daily shifts of the Merlion, spatial to temporal, particle to plexus. Accountants give celebrities free hugs, their palms are sweating, after taxing the civil case of the Merlion. But hold on there, youngster. What is the color of the Merlion? Does it speak a foreign language like Resilience? Does it roar, swim, walk aimlessly around the Central Business District? Will it quit water and start eating poetry? I know a place where it can go when it’s alone. Through its mouth, a tunnel: right where it starts it ends.
The Common is thrilled to welcome Sasha Stiles to our pages for the first time.
Table of Contents:
What does it mean to be human in a nearly posthuman era? How are the cornerstones of our universal condition—birth, breath, love, sex, faith, death—evolving in the context of biological and computational advances? How does it feel to be mostly flesh and blood in a world increasingly dominated by plastic and silicon, virtual presence and spectral signals? What dark corners of the future and of cyberspace can ancient wisdom illuminate? What does motherhood mean in a world of artificial wombs, lab-grown brains, self-replication, and the uncertain continuation of our species as we know it? Who are these robots, chatbots, androids, cyborgs and intelligences already walking and talking amongst us? Do our avatars make us, in some measure, immortal? TechnELEGY—the ongoing transmedia project and poetry collection from which these pieces are excerpted—is my attempt to grapple with these impossible questions.
A, E, I, O, U. The rhythmic concatenation of these five vowels is the tachycardic pulse of Mario’s poetry, and it cannot be imitated in English. Feeling for correlative patterns in the jangle of our consonant-frontal idiom is something like transcribing the pitch values of a Max Roach drum solo for honkeytonk piano. I do what I can with alliteration but even the relatively long decay of the M or the out-hissing S does not match the multi-textured overtones of a hard O spilling through the rails of its word-cage when struck, trailing a foam of soft E’s across the rubble.
Mario Santiago Papasquiaro: Two Poems in Translation