What is Leopoldo Maria Panero looking at? by Túa Blesa, 2003

What is Leopoldo María Panero looking at?

Túa Blesa about the video Merienda de Negros, Saragossa University

Elba Martínez’s excellent, perspicacious and disturbing work invites us to consider what this poet’s eyes are looking at, and the only answer maybe to see what his poems say. What do we find in his poetry? Horror: that of life – that of madman cursed by heaven; a life brought to a stop, not by an optical illusion but by a penetrating gaze, in a snapshot of destruction. This is bespoken in the continuous blur of the face, drifting in search of a sheet – the page? – reflecting it, and so the ideology of individuality is precipitated into a crisis that would seem to be final. This can also be read into the voice, which, again and again, is like creaking of trapezes, again and again, like a death rattle unable, even for pity’s sake, to end, for the moment of death becomes in his eyes a ritornello with no end in sight for the day in which the song is to stop. Poetry: a scratched disc. A gaze that has turned into repetition. This is right.

“Tell me if my gaze destroys what it sees”, says one poem.  Panero’s eyes, as the poet believes, have the power to kill with their very gaze. Visible evidence of seeing. His first victims, liquidated repeatedly, are words, spoken in a vacuum, decomposed in a whisper, in the horror of a syllable, of perpetually reduced to “ah”, “oh”. If what poetry, the excrescence of poets, feeds on is words, we should speak of cannibalism, or rather – as Elba Martínez well knows – self  – cannibalism. This is why the poet can write “Oh perfect excrement of myself / terror of being me”, for this is the terror of seeing one devouring oneself, a task continually until the process becomes no more than a still photo. The music to all this, typing on a machine.

Where Leopoldo María Panero casts his gaze he casts words, which are nothing, or death, or the name of what has no name, a murmur  that would like t o speak its own nothingness or death, something which, though present, does not arrive yet, the invisible moment of disappearance. And then the poetry is spoken, made of the “I saw” of the John of Revelation, “I offer you in my hand / willows I have not seen”, and Elba Martínez records these scenes, multiple and the same, the image of atrocity. Darkness in darkness.  Any light? Yes, black light: “I do not know what light is”.

Leopoldo María Panero looks, and that means he looks at me, he looks at you, and his eyes tell me and tell you “the end”. That gaze has been seen by Elba Martínez; she has looked into Panero’s eyes, and what she has seen she shows to us. It is the evidence of empty space. The blind spot of a gaze. “And the light is not ours…”