Walking Around by Pablo Neruda

I was introduced to Neruda in college through his love poems. I wasn't impressed and I avoided him for a long time. But I was kinda haughty then and overly sensitive to emotion in poetry. I really was way too much into Eliot and all of the ruley rule rules of the New Critics. Here's something by Neruda. It's so immersively angsty and angry and I love how it reminds me of the haggard earnestness and deep hungry want in my worst depressions.

Walking Around

It so happens I'm tired of just being a man.
I go to a movie, drop in at the tailor's--it so happens--
feeling wizened and numbed, like a big, wooly swan,
awash on an ocean of clinkers and causes.

A whiff from a barbershop does it; I yell bloody murder.
All I ask is a little vacation from things: from boulders and woolens,
from gardens, institutional projects, merchandise,
eyeglasses, elevators--I'd rather not look at them.

It so happens I'm fed up--with my feet and my fingernails
and my hair and my shadow.
Being a man leaves me cold: that's how it is.

Still--it would be lovely
to wave a cut lily and panic a notary,
or finish a nun with a left to the ear.
It would be nice
just to walk down the street with a green switchblade handy,
whooping it up till I die of the shivers.

I won't live like this--like a root in a shadow,
wide-open and wondering, teeth chattering sleepily,
going down to the dripping entrails of the universe
absorbing things, talking things in, eating three squares a day.

I've had all I'll take from catastrophe.
I won't have it this way, muddling through like a root or a grave,
all alone underground, in a morgue of cadavers,
cold as a stiff, dying of misery.

That's why Monday flares up like an oil-slick,
when it sees me up close, with the face of a jailbird,
or squeaks like a broken-down wheel as it goes,
stepping hot-blooded into the night.

Something shoves me toward certain damp houses, into certain dark corners,
into hospitals, with bones flying out of the windows;
into shoe stores and shoemakers smelling of vinegar,
streets frightful as fissures laid open.

There, trussed to the doors of the houses I loathe
are the sulphurous birds, in a horror of tripes,
dental plates lost in a coffeepot,
that must surely have wept with the nightmare and shame of it all;
and everywhere, poisons, umbrellas, and belly buttons.

I stroll unabashed, in my eyes and my shoes
and my rage and oblivion.
I go on, crossing offices, retail orthopedics,
courtyards with laundry hung out on a wire;
the blouses and towels and the drawers newly washed,
slowly dribbling a slovenly tear.

Translation by Ben Belitt

Taken from this site, the first of the google search results.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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