Wednesday, December 15, 2004

anthology of pistols

In perusing a memoir written by a recently deceased (and "very Greek," we are fond of saying) close family friend, I am reminded, for neither better nor worse, of that, well, Stalin-doting Pablo Neruda:
Mexico in those days was more gun-toting than gunfighter. There was a cult of the revolver, a fetishism of the .45 Colts were whipped out at the drop of a pin. PArliamentary candidates and newspapers would start their "depistolization" campaigns, but would quickly realize that it was easier to pull a Mexican's tooth than wrest his beloved gun from him.
Once a group of poets entertained me with an outing...

Well, during the ride, after a good many tequilas, one of the poets insisted that, as a special honor of a different kind, I should fire into the sky his beautiful pistol whose grip was decorated with silver and gold designs. The colleague nearest to him whipped out his own pistol and, carried away with enthusiasm, slapped aside the first man's weapon and invited me to do the shooting with his. Each of the other rhapsodists unsheathed his pistol on the instant, and a free-for-all ensued: they all raised their guns over my head, each insisting I choose his instead of one of the others. As the precarious panoply of pistols being waved in front of my nose or passed under my arms became more and more dangerous, it occured to me to take a huge, typical sombrero and gather all the firearms into it, asking the battalion of poets for their guns in the name of poetry and peace. Everyone obeyed and I was able to confiscate the weapons and keep them safe in my house for several days. I am the only poet, I believe, in whose honor an anthology of pistols has been put together. (Neruda, Memoirs, 156-7)

Ah, yes. And everyone is a poet. Are you sure it wasn't for a whole week, or maybe a month, Pablo?
Well it would seem I am still reading Neruda. I read some things slowly, meeting the book where I find it and not always where it is. But it is Neruda's fault for permitting, if not encouraging this, and I am not chastising fondly. In fact, I think it is bad writing. Of course some writers also get caught up in merely entertaining themselves...

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