Insolaciones en Miami Beach / Jacqueline Goldberg

Poet and critic Harry Almela discusses Jacqueline Goldberg's collection Insolaciones en Miami Beach (Caracas: Fondo Editorial Fundarte, 1995) in the essay "Un alegato a favor del desencanto":

"Insolaciones en Miami Beach marks a point of departure in her work. It is perhaps one of the most important collections of Venezuelan poetry of that decade, despite the overwhelming silence that accompanied its publication. Firstly, and from the point of view of the development of Goldberg's poetics, this book represents a deepening of a secular vision of family habits and of the banalization of bourgeois themes. Secondly, within this collection one can find, in all of its crudity, the routines and tastes of a middle class that was very prominent during the last two decades. This is a middle class fascinated by its ascent and by the access to consumer goods that mark and determine its members. These goods are usually characterized by poor taste and occasionally border on kitsch. At times, these poems remind us of Robert Altman's film, Three Women. In this book, there's also an amplification of Goldberg's poetic vocabulary which, from this point on, employs words that are often avoided by poets, whether because of their sound or because of what they signify. The use of everyday language that characterizes this generation of poets depends on this amplification of common words [...]."

The collection is made up of 24 untitled poems, from which I have selected the following eight for translation. Goldberg's book opens with an epigraph by Sam Shepard: "La gente de aquí / se ha convertido / en la gente / que finge ser."

1. "el balcón es un pedazo de Collins Avenue"
2. "las damas rubias"
3. "Mr. Jones cuida entradas y salidas"
4. "Isaac Baschevitz Singer"
5. "Benjamín sopló las siete velas"
6. "el tío Morris murió en Manhattan"
7. "mi abuela decía haber estado"
8. "calentar pizza a medianoche en microhondas"


Miami Beach Sunstrokes (selections)


the balcony is a chunk of Collins Avenue

a view
reduced to extremes
no one notices
during lunch

we watch its blend of bathing suits
we've got towels
tuna sandwiches
Diet Coke

we pause at the dry shot
of an airplane over the bay


the blonde ladies
shop at Bay Harbor

they choose silk scarves
they'll wear for less than two hours

the shoes are made from Italian leather
the hats brought over from dear England

the Victoria's Secret babydolls
aqua green fuscia black
cost as much
as popcorn tons


Mr. Jones guards entrances and exits

no other name will do
--for an English course protagonist
worthy of that role--

Mr. Jones is a guachman
ripit egein

Mr. Jones
and his shifts as a doorman
listens bearer of old corpses
maker of strokes and deals
artificial respirator

Mr. Jones-glassdoor

single entrance


Isaac Baschevitz Singer
spent winters
in the Surfside Tower

we'd see him at his window
two floors down
in checkered shorts and a T-shirt

a nurse
pushed his walker
on certain stretches of the beach

at the time, I couldn't have guessed
that the Nobel laureate chewed gum
and no longer wrote


Benjamín blew out the seven candles
on a shrivelled apple pie

he denied the necessity of gifts
he serenely accepted the meager party

but he still ended up crying

now I think about the dread
of a McDonald's birthday
of an unbearable and sloppy hug
from grandma
two aunts
three cousins
and five waiters


uncle Morris died in Manhattan
near the river and the bridges

he chose the casket himself
planned out his final migration

he settled everything
so we could sustain
our weeping as long as needed

weep for him
only a while

because he also insured
future family disputes

his only legacy left to the river and the bridges
hospital window vision

so near the river and the bridges


my grandmother said she had been
to the Moulin Rouge
and to the Copacabana

also to the Teatro Baralt
when Gardel unveiled
El día que me quieras

she recalled Miami's beaches
as languid pools
at the shores of a shore
without window grown hotels
without so many entrenched old people

she saw herself
inventing scenes
drinking beer
in honor of no one else


heating up pizza in a microwave at midnight
is a bad omen

boiling water in a bronze baby bottle
weighs the bitter moments

spying on the fat neighbor between shades
warms the ghosts

writing just because
for pure lies
churns the guts
draws smoke
kills the good plague

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