Winter 2000–2001

Marilyn Monroe y yo

The first English translation

Fernando Sampietro

Josep Renau, Hollywood Moloch, 1965.

An excerpt of this translation appeared in the first issue of Cabinet.

To read an essay by co-translator Jesse Lerner that accompanied the printed excerpt of “Marilyn Monroe y yo,” go here.

To all the
clochards of the world
and also for those who believe
they know more than I do.

In the future there will be no more private property!
I see Marilyn Monroe,
she is on sale, she is on a poster,
I buy it without thinking twice about it.

One night I dreamt that she and I were
sitting on the sand on a calm beach
by the calm sea, illuminated by artificial light,
in a bright blue swimsuit she smiled.

When I awake Marilyn is no longer in the bed,
nor in the house, I look through the window,
Marilyn Monroe is outside, I run out to see her.
How fun it is when we throw the bathing suits
onto the ground and go in to swim naked!
To embrace and kiss the naked Marilyn Monroe in
the water is something unimaginable.
While we dry ourselves in the sun
lying on the sands I recite two poems to her:
“Sensation” by Arthur Rimbaud
and “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan,
she smiles again.

Our house is white,
we built it some time ago,
it’s by the sea,
our house is all alone
out there in the middle,
we also built a pier
because we built a sailboat
that is fast when it’s windy.
We are in the sailboat,
the departure is slow
until water starts to spray us,
we compete with no one
when it’s windy,
and when it’s not
we spend the time drinking champagne
and also jumping
into the water to swim,
in the cold water
now I swim underneath without touching her,
when I come out she laughs,
it also makes me laugh what
I did without realizing,
in the sailboat we sunbathe more intensely
due to the reflection of the sun on the water,
we become more natural,
we cannot see the shore,
a shark passes close by,
we open the seventh bottle,
we want to drink till we die,
we want to drink till we die
and we are already drunk,
the return is rapid,
the arrival slow,
now we see the decoration
of our white house
that we’ve never decorated,
we only have one painting,
a painting by Picasso
from the “doves” series,
this painting soothes us.

We met Pablo Picasso,
“when painting, one must get sparks out of ice”
this was his painting, this is his painting,
this will be his painting.

We also met Duchamp, his name was Marcel,
he was called Marcel Duchamp, he died on
October the second nineteen sixty eight,
he died in his sleep, he had worked that day.
To understand all
Marcel Duchamp’s work
one must have thought
beforehand in the air.

Marilyn Monroe and I,
she is a woman,
I am a man,
Marilyn Monroe and I.

The air is pure
when it is totally pure,
we breathe pure air,
sometimes we smoke a cigar.

When we play pool
we have more fun than when
we don’t play pool,
that’s why we play pool.

Surviving is what’s important,
surviving to be able to live
in this chaotic world,
we change our ideology,
What does it matter if you’re an anarchist?
What does it matter if you’re a communist?
What does it matter if you’re a fascist?
What does it matter if you’re a nihilist?,
that’s our ideology,
to adapt to reality.
To adapt to the surroundings
as chameleons do.

To think in the air,
to think in the air.
What is the air?
The air is strange.

The desert is hot,
the Rolling Stones are playing, we begin to suck ice,
we cannot see them, we can only hear them,
Marilyn Monroe climbs up naked onto my shoulders,
like that she can see them,
she claps and quickly climbs down from my shoulder,
when we kiss it’s as if we were still sucking ice,
in the desert in the daytime in the sun it was cooler.

To be a good anarchist is a great responsibility.
One strange day we arrived, Marilyn Monroe and I,
like the birds that fly south in winter to
a meeting of anarchists. I didn’t know
that anarchists met on strange days.
We talked about the mess the world is in,
we left at dawn. The following year we didn’t return,
neither the year after, we never went back.

Tobacco kills us
if we smoke more than
we can take,
we like tobacco.

Mankind has
created itself,
we understand what we understand
because we created it,
what we don’t understand
we know that
we won’t understand and that
future generations will understand it.

We don’t know why
we were in a magnificent
international meeting of communists,
we felt as if we were international anti-communists,
we who at that time
were international communists,
that’s what always happens to us
when this happens to us.

We don’t know why
we were in a magnificent
international meeting of fascists,
we felt as if we were international anti-fascists,
we who at that time
were international fascists,
that’s what always happens to us
when this happens to us.

One of the greatest
pyramids in Chichen Itza and in the whole world
is the observatory pyramid,
going up the narrow staircase behind her,
I couldn’t resist the temptation of sliding my
hand between her legs, she didn’t stop,
we reached the top as if we hadn’t gone up,
the landscape is dull, the sky covers everything,
there are no stars to be seen,
time went by without our realizing
until the sky was covered with stars,
the moon appeared and we returned quickly by motorcycle.

We don’t really know how we got to a meeting,
a meeting of nihilists,
only the couple of us were there,
and at that moment we realized we were nihilists.

We didn’t go to Moscow,
neither did we go to Peking,
we will go when we win more
money by gambling.

Mankind has created itself,
therefore we create ourselves,
we’ve created our past and also our present,
we will also create our future.

Santa Claus doesn’t exist, but to some children
he brings toy guns with which they
afterwards go Bang! Bang!
Some boys and girls are told by their parents to not tell
lies and are made to believe in Santa Claus.
To some good girls,
Santa Claus brings what they ask for,
they generally ask for toys and sometimes dolls.

Without wanting to we arrived at a meeting of pacifists,
first we told them that what was important was to take
an almost non-existent decision: “Peace for all men,
and also for all women.” Then we didn’t say anything
and they didn’t talk either, we arrived as we left,
we left as we had arrived, thinking about peace,
wishing only for peace, though this means
war with ourselves.

We began to study mathematics,
by not applying them we ended up
writing poems on papers
that we will make into airplanes
and throw from the top of the house.
Yesterday our psychoanalyst arrived,
he asked us how little airplanes were made,
we told him we didn’t know and he never came back.

Marilyn went to a meeting of feminist women,
to tell them that meetings are useless
to liberate women,
that they should stop having meetings,
because each woman is
able to liberate herself without
the help of others,
and so liberated them from having meetings.

San Cristobal Las Casas,
is another place in Mexico
where they keep up native traditions
while drinking Coca-Cola.
We went up a hill near this folkloric town,
only the wind in the trees could be heard,
we got there because we must always be somewhere,
we don’t infringe on the landscape,
one can be here,
we forgot the others,
we remembered the Martians that don’t exist,
without our realizing a
couple of natives go by,
he is carrying a machete,
she doesn’t see us,
when we went down the hill
we didn’t remember that
we had seen them from up close,
we didn’t remember until
we remembered them.

The best thing about Montreal is walking without an umbrella
in the pouring rain
and eating Greek yogurt
in a Greek restaurant.

Up to now Russian Migs are still flying
over Cuba,
we also saw jets of commercial airlines.
Fidel Castro is a Castrist.
The Migs flew over the peaceful beach,
to sunbathe without knowing the Migs are going to pass is ...
but it’s more attractive to sunbathe knowing
the Migs will pass.

To walk along the Havana sea wall is
as interesting as walking along the one in Veracruz,
it’s said that danger
is everywhere.

The weather in Las Vegas
is also hot,
but inside the casinos it isn’t hot,
we win money no sweat.

We travel by Concorde
from Mexico City to Paris
from Paris to Mexico City
merely to say we traveled by Concorde.

On Wednesdays we study French,
to learn French
one must know how to learn,
know how to learn French.

We only have a motorcycle and it has no speed gauge,
we know we are going fast
when the noise is behind us or when
we forget everything.

All our friends
take us up to reality,
all the cops
bring us down to reality.

We saw man land on the
moon on the television, it wasn’t a repetition,
we saw the first step, then we saw him jump,
it made us laugh a lot, it was a great achievement.

We like marijuana,
we don’t know why it’s illegal to smoke it,
we would like to be accepted
as the couple that laughs about nothing from time to time.

We already know who
painted the animals of
the Altamira Caves,
someone who had nothing better to do.

Andy Warhol came to our house one Sunday,
he brought along his Polaroid camera,
he took a few pictures of us,
we served him a whisky without ice but cold,
as he knows he likes,
we drank purified water,
we brought out the papers where we had written the poems,
he kept one
or we gave it to him,
he wanted to make an airplane
and we told him how,
he is going to launch it from the top of the Empire State Building,
he told us that he won’t
forget us,
we had a lot of fun with his newly taken photos,
he left without saying good-bye.

Mankind has created itself,
and obviously also all that surrounds it,
from all the visible
to all the invisible.

Another surprise was when
Farah Fawcett visited us,
we were also surprised when Bo Derek arrived,
the first thing we did
was laugh about nothing,
we drank orange juice
sitting in the living room.
First Farah says:
“You are a poet,”
I don’t know what to answer,
Bo says the same:
“You are a poet,”
Marilyn says the same:
“You are a poet,”
I don’t know what to answer,
after a pause
Marilyn calmly tells them
“He’s very shy,”
after a long silence I calmly tell them:
“I like the women,”
the three say to me
at the same time as if they were a chorus:
“I like the shys,”
we start to play
the game of the bottle that spins and
the one the bottle point at has to
take off something.
How we laughed!
The last item was Bo’s earring,
then we all went out
to the beach to play
with the waves while
I film them with
the Super-8 camera,
they also film me,
we take turns with the camera,
we agreed to meet again when the
film was developed to look at it.

For us playing marbles
is great fun,
it’s much more fun than
not doing anything.

Luis Buñuel knocked on the door one night,
we didn’t know if we were
in the house
only he found out.

Scientists pose
problems they can solve
and they are solved by
those who are good scientists.

I like her a lot, she threw the pieces onto
the table before putting them on the board,
we were almost even, I don’t recall who won,
what I do remember is that we weren’t sleepy and we got
into bed naked, a sheet covered us,
we read The Stranger by Camus all in one go,
an absurd feeling about life surrounded us,
looking out the window silence is complete.

We don’t want to have kids, there is a baby boom,
we could have kids in a country where
there is no baby boom,
but it’s all the same, we don’t want kids.

Everything is well done, I think that even I,
because I am a genius they think I’m crazy,
I play with Art,
Art plays with me.

Some days in the mornings we don’t know what
to do when we are traveling and when we aren’t traveling either,
but we always do something,
especially when we do something.

Don Quixote was crazy at the beginning of the book,
he ended up saner than the sane Sancho Panza
at the end of the book,
this book is good.

At the end of the long inside staircase
one level below the base of the pyramid of
the Temple of Inscriptions,
this is in Palenque,
there is the most spectacular burial crypt in
pre-Hispanic America in colors,
outside the pyramid
we ate some mushrooms,
we felt like angels,
we felt we were flying,
a man was sweeping the steps of the pyramid
when we were leaving and we had gone.

We went to the Aztec Stadium, there is nobody now,
this is a Monday, it’s in the morning,
we don’t feel alone, the people are outside,
we forget the people,
we each sit in a cold seat,
I ask without wanting:
“Do you like it?,”
she gives me a kiss.

It is not necessary to keep
traditions because
traditions keep themselves
as happens with everything.

Life is uncertain.
You don’t get any further because you run a lot.
We leave the house, walk in the woods,
we wander along but in a straight line,
we don’t know if we are going to remember the
way back home,
we walk for kilometers and kilometers
before reaching a group of apple trees,
we quickly ate the closest apple there was,
so I said up in the air:
“What fun this is,”
before trying to kiss each other,
afterwards we didn’t try either,
but did so as if
we were floating
our lips met momentarily,
until she asked me:
“How do you feel?”
I didn’t tell her:
“I feel very happy,”
but said to her:
“Like a rolling stone,”
I immediately asked:
“How do you feel?”
she didn’t say:
“I’m so glad,”
but said:
“Like a rolling stone,”
we kissed again
and we also embraced,
I don’t know what she thought
but she clearly said:
“Make love with me,”
I didn’t know what to think,
I saw she was more beautiful that usual,
for an instant I thought she was a virgin
and she believed I was a saint,
this instead of separating us brought us closer together,
I saw she was hallucinating, I was also hallucinating,
while hallucinating one can think, drunk one can think too,
we weren’t drunk and we’re not used to being drunk
when we aren’t drunk, if anything tipsy
or better said as I already said floating,
our senses raced,
I hadn’t noticed,
we were naked again,
a butterfly perched on my left shoulder,
this makes us smile, the butterfly leaves,
this also makes us smile,
we are making love,
it seems as if the world has stopped,
we believe it stopped,
that day we returned happy
both of us on a
night of full moon.
C’est la vie.

We go up to a roof,
I paint a painting,
Marilyn Monroe looks at me,
we come down off the roof.

This is on a Monday,
it’s in the morning,
Marilyn is happy in Chapultepec Park,
I am also happy,
we are in a boat,
sometimes she rows,
other times I do,
she’s wearing a white dress,
she’s not wearing a bra,
she’s not wearing panties,
we are both uncombed,
I’m dressed in jeans with no slip,
no T-shirt nor socks,
Marilyn isn’t jealous,
I’m not jealous either,
especially when we’re together.

We thought about ecology,
we wanted to light a fire
but we thought about it
until we thought about
something else to think about
and we thought that it’s
impossible not to think
for any length of time.

We hadn’t thought about it
since someone farted,
a million years ago,
the air of the world began to be polluted.

To each his own life,
that’s how the world is,
whether you worry or not,
that was also how the world was and how it will be.

What are our lives like?
We go up the stairs
upwards and go down
the stairs downwards.

What are our lives like?
We go down the stairs
downwards and go up
the stairs upwards.

To wonder what would happen if
some day we were
Marilyn Monroe and I
alone in the world,
is the same as
wondering what would happen if one day we were
Marilyn Monroe and I
alone in the world.

When our life-force is finished
we must improvise something,
we decide to play with pea-shooters with straws and candies.
What a fright when she hit me in the eye!
My anger was not small
neither was it large,
on the contrary,
my joy wasn’t small,
neither was it big,
in very few words I was almost one-eyed,
she tries to caress me,
but I tell her not to,
it’s still nighttime
when we realize
that it’s daytime,
she puts on the record of “Carmina Burana” by Karl Orff
to forget the incident,
this music distracts us,
suddenly we don’t remember what
we must forget,
we remember again,
just before the music finishes we forget
the incident forever.

We have few good records
and we don’t have any bad ones,
we don’t have bad records
and we have a few good ones.

We were lent a small airplane,
we couldn’t think of
anything better than flying
under the Monument to the Revolution.

We are still that type of people
that when we hear the
sound of an airplane
we look up to see it.

We went up the stairs right to the top of
the Monument to the Independence,
and to think that
the gilded Angel fell in a slight tremor.

The Beatles visited us,
they wanted to dance with Marilyn,
Marilyn only danced with me,
the Beatles watched us.

The Monument to Cuauhtemoc
impresses us so much that
once when we went by
we didn’t want to look at it.

One night we rode
on the motorcycle in the Zocalo,
we went round it
because it was all lit up.

She has a pair
of pink
shoelaces and a
big and ugly
pastel blue hat
and these match
my black beret
and white shoelaces.

Whenever we can we
bathe in the shower,
we enjoy water
splashing us a lot.

We don’t believe in God,
both of us are atheists,
Marilyn is the worst,
I’m the worst.

Going up to the church,
this is in Cholula,
she uncaps a beer,
it’s as cool as the tobacco of my cigarette,
I throw the bottle as far as I can,
we don’t look extraordinary, the sky is clear,
there’s nobody else, the church is empty,
we come running down like kids.

No God created us,
we created the Gods,
mankind has created all its Gods
in search of an absurd refuge.

Now we are standing
where there used to be
the building of the Madrid School,
I remember and say to her:
“Here is where I studied junior high and at the end
of the first month of classes I failed literature,”
Marilyn didn’t understand me, she doesn’t speak Spanish,
I try to tell her in English but can’t,
I think to myself:
“I’m failing again, it must be this place,”
I tug at her to leave,
she wants to stay longer,
without thinking I say:
“This is empty now,”
she obviously doesn’t understand me,
without looking at me she says:
“I like to study,”
I look at her and say:
“To study is good,”
the English from the Madrid School I learned
was of some use to me,
she tugs at me to leave
and we leave because
we want to leave.

We understood classical music
after hearing rock and roll,
“Get off my cloud” by the Rolling Stones
impressed us as much as
the unique “Ninth Symphony” by Ludwig Van Beethoven,
one mustn’t confuse one type of music with another,
every single piece has
its time to be listened to or not.

We feel persecution mania
especially when we are being pursued,
luckily we have not been pursued
not even for being famous.

If the reporters
asked us if we wanted to
live this life again,
our answer would be no.

Earthquakes frighten us
even if there are no tragedies,
earthquakes make us happy
when there are no tragedies.

Peace doesn’t exist
even among the dead,
spirits don’t exist
but how they frighten us.

To the pyramids of
Teotihuacan she didn’t want to go,
Marilyn told me she’d already seen them
on a postcard.

Mick Jagger is Mick Jagger and he says that he
“is a serious man,”
we also think that
he is a serious man.

We prefer playing dominoes
than thinking about the past of mankind,
we prefer playing dominoes
than thinking about the future of mankind.

Without knowing where we were going
we reached Puerto Escondido,
we don’t want to go back until
there is also a nudist beach in this place.

We both play poker
as poker should be played,
we play poker placing bets,
by placing bets one can win.

We arrived right now,
the palm trees are still,
it smells of warm tropics,
we go through the village without seeing the people
because there are no people,
the fluorescent walls seem
to have an internal light,
the palm trees are still,
a cow walks by
and remains standing in the middle of the road,
we stop to watch it
and continue our way,
the palm trees move,
now it smells of sea,
we reach the beach,
the horizon is still.
We are under a palapa,
we drink Coca-Cola through straws,
we eat tangerines and peanuts,
calmly with sunglasses we look at the horizon,
the ash of our cigarettes falls slowly onto the sand,
I daren’t kiss her right now,
she is expecting another answer,
she grabs her Coca-Cola without letting the pressure out
shakes it and releases the pressure,
without realizing it I kiss her on the neck,
she lifts the bottle and throws it into the sea,
I laugh like Orson Welles in a film,
Marilyn Monroe is angry
because I kissed her then,
I go for a walk,
I walk till I don’t recognize
where I am,
the palm trees are still,
I go in for a swim,
the waves push me out,
the palm trees move,
I take off my swimsuit and dry off in the breeze,
to step in the sands of this beach gives satisfaction,
the crabs come out before
the sun sets,
they leave the sand on
the beach full of little holes,
their color blends in
with the color of
the sand and they
are almost invisible,
the sun becomes
larger to the eye when it is low
and it turns orange,
I find a fallen coconut
and I don’t touch it,
the waves are big
when they aren’t small
and the breeze gets to
where I’m standing,
it’s wonderful to be standing
on the sands of
this beach and think
that I am standing on
this planet called Earth
which is simply revolving
on its own axis
and traveling round the Sun which
itself is moving
in this mysterious Universe,
it is now I think
that I am in the
Universe and the Universe
is in my thoughts,
when Marilyn Monroe arrives
she arrives and doesn’t speak
and without realizing it she gives me a kiss
before returning arm in arm
we forget our swimsuits on the sand.

We don’t believe in God,
we are both atheists,
Marilyn is the best,
I am the best.

Now we are in Xochimilco,
the name in flowers on the barge is Marilyn,
and it is so because that is her name,
Xochimilco is lovely!

We were also in Spain,
Spain is a country.
We have a suitcase which has gone all
around the world and doesn’t remember a thing.

We want to go to Africa,
on Thursdays we play ping-pong,
we want to go to Venice,
at night we have bread and cold milk for supper.

Marilyn Monroe and I
don’t want to get married,
many people get married,
if we had got married,
when they had shouted
Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!
it would have been the first time we kissed,
we only thought of getting married
for one sole reason:
for a lot of rice to be
thrown at our heads.

Each has
created himself
and herself,
as he or she is.

We take some private lessons together,
she teaches me English,
I teach her Spanish,
like this we learn more easily.

The film
Marilyn likes the most
is undoubtedly “The Misfits,”
she told me.

“Last Tango in Paris,”
Marilyn also saw,
I also saw it,
it’s an exceptional film.

If we look at each other naked,
naked before a
mirror the two of us together,
we can’t laugh.

We are used to reading newspapers,
the red criminal section of
yellow tabloids makes us
black with anger.

Christopher Columbus discovered America,
Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico,
Hidalgo made Mexico independent,
I was born in Mexico.

Mexico is in America, America is on
Earth and Earth is in the Solar System and in the Universe,
and the Universe is unknown; if it has a limit,
we don’t know where it is.

There are dictators who haven’t killed
anyone in all
their life but in whose name
many people have died.

Salvador Dali doesn’t want
to be in this book,
but we want
him to be here.

We are still that type of people
who when we hear the
sound of an airplane,
we look up to see it.

We don’t have pets,
we have a little elephant
as free as ourselves,
we bought it a she-elephant.

Water is H2O,
when we look at the sea we don’t think about that.
Fire has light,
I don’t know why.

Karl Marx was a Marxist,
Lenin studied Marx,
Mao was a Chinese,
Che Guevara lived.

It’s strange that Marilyn
was also a little girl,
it’s strange that I
was also a little boy.

Jesus Christ became famous.
Miracles don’t exist,
that’s why they surprise us
and some people believe in what doesn’t exist.

Atom bombs exist,
we would also like to die
from an atom bomb raid,
atom bombs exist.

An idea moves us:
we don’t know what we’re looking for.
We want to go to Mars,
the Soviet Union and the United States send
us to Venus,
this planet is alright but it is very hot,
enthused we break contact with
Earth and go to Mars,
we arrived during the day, in Martian daytime,
we are the first to step on Mars,
the only thing we knew how to do was to make
love in another gravity and jump like crazy
and see new landscapes, we didn’t bring anything back,
we didn’t leave anything on that uninhabitable planet
for he or she who wishes
to experience strong emotions, we return to Earth,
we fall into the cold snow of the North Pole,
we knew we were expected.
We confirm what we knew:
Martians don’t exist.

This had to end like this,
it’s a good ending,
this doesn’t end like this,
but it doesn’t matter.

We don’t know if we went or we dreamt it,
we reached a planet in another galaxy,
inhabited by alien beings,
alien beings similar to those on Earth,
they have created themselves like mankind has,
because they are mankind,
we are their past,
they don’t know our planet,
they are our future,
on this planet there is no private property
neither are there flies, they died of natural death,
here cars fly and there are bicycles,
there is no pollution, it seems they only
know how to make it disappear, or better said not appear,
animals are free,
all the inhabitants of this planet are free,
there is free love,
there are no politicians, there is ideology,
there are no governments, there is peace,
there are no sicknesses, there is death
there are no religions, neither is there the word of God,
God doesn’t exist here either,
in fact there is almost
everything that exists on our planet,
in fact there isn’t
all the garbage that exists on our planet,
it’s all a question of imagining the
future of mankind.

It is then I think,
we are all here,
in this open-air restaurant in this world in another galaxy,
eating and drinking to
preserve our precious existence,
and there is nothing, no reason to exist,
I felt like screaming:
“Let it start raining,”
and it began to rain, the rain wets us,
they had never been wet by rain,
a long moment of joy,
a couple approaches,
he says simply:
“This planet is sad because there are no crazy men,”
and she says:
“Neither are there crazy women,”
I answer calmly:
“On our planet there are crazy men and women,
and they are locked up though they don’t do any harm,”
then Marilyn says:
“And it’s also sad,”
she looks at us surprised, he remains
staring a moment with his eyebrows raised,
then we tell him in chorus before leaving:
“that’s why we’re here,”
the rain has stopped,
the future is uncertain
visiting other worlds in other galaxies.

She bursts out laughing.
That laugh sounds strange
in the dark room.
We remain silent for a moment.
Night has fallen,
I barely make out the pale mark of her face.
Her black dress blends in with the shadow
which invades the room.
I take the cup where there is still a little
tea and bring it to my lips.
The tea is cold.
I feel like smoking,
but daren’t.
I have the painful impression
that we don’t
have anything to say to each other.
Still the day before yesterday
I could think of so many questions:
where she had been,
what she had done,
whom she had met.
It interested me only to the extent in which
Marilyn had given herself
with all her soul.
I was no longer curious:
all the countries and
all the cities where she had been
and all the men
who have courted her and whom
maybe she has loved,
don’t matter,
deep down all that is indifferent to her:
sparkles of sun on the surface of a dark and cold sea.
She is before me,
I can’t recall when we last met
and now we don’t have anything to say to each other.
For the first time I feel lonely and Marilyn
is lonely like me
and there is no solution because there is no problem.

Translated by Jesse Lerner and Isabelle Marmasse
Special thanks to Carlos Sampietro, Rubén Ortiz Torres, and Rita González

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