Poems for staying at home (Day 3)

Atira CUR looking down


Today’s poem for staying at home is ‘Time of Crisis’, by the Mexican poet Fabio Morábito. Morabito’s poetry, infused with a wry and occasionally coruscating humour, is especially suited to the weird times we live in. This translation, along with the Spanish original, can be found in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.

If your device allows you access to Instagram, you can listen to Idoia Elola reading the poem in Spanish and English by following the link below:



Time of Crisis

This building
has hollow bricks,
you get to know everything
about the others,
learn to distinguish
the voices and the couplings.
Some learn to pretend
that they are happy,
others that they are deep.
At times a kiss
from the upper floors
gets lost in the lower
you have to go down and fetch it:
“My kiss please,
if you would be so kind.”
“I kept it wrapped in a newspaper.”
A building has
its golden age,
the years and fatigue
wear it thin,
so that it resembles
the life that passes by.
The architecture loses weight
and habit gains ground,
propriety gains ground.
The hierarchy of the walls
the roof, the floor, everything
turns concave,
this is when the young people flee,
travel the world.
They want to live
in virgin buildings,
they want a roof for a roof
and walls for walls,
they don’t want
another kind of space.
This building doesn’t satisfy
it is in its time of crisis,
to knock it down you’d have
to knock it down right now,
later it’s going to be difficult.

Translated by Richard Gwyn


Época de Crisis

Este edificio tiene
los ladrillos huecos,
se llega a saber todo
de los otros,
se aprende a distinguir
las voces y los coitos.
Unos aprenden a fingir
que son felices,
otros que son profundos.
A veces algún beso
de los pisos altos
se pierde en los departamentos
hay que bajar a recogerlo:
“Mi beso, por favor,
si es tan amable.”
“Se lo guardé en papel periódico.”
Un edificio tiene
su época de oro,
los años y el desgaste
lo adelgazan,
le dan un parecido
con la vida que transcurre.
La arquitectura pierde peso
y gana la costumbre,
gana el decoro.
La jerarquía de las paredes
se disuelve,
el techo, el piso, todo
se hace cóncavo,
es cuando huyen los jóvenes,
le dan vuelta al mundo.
Quieren vivir en edificios
quieren por techo el techo
y por paredes las paredes,
no quieren otra índole
de espacio.
Este edificio no contenta
a nadie,
está en su época de crisis,
de derrumbarlo habría
que derrumbarlo ahora,
después va a ser difícil.


From De lunes todo el año, 1992


Fabio Morábito was born in Alexandria in 1955 and has lived in Mexico City since the age of fifteen. His award-winning poetry, short stories and essays have established him as one of Mexico’s best-known writers over the past 25 years. He is also a translator from Italian. Much of his work has appeared in translation, to growing international acclaim.

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