Poems for staying at home (Day 26)

Raising Roosters With Laying Hens


The theft of a rooster prompts today’s poem from the Venezuelan Igor Barreto; a lament for a creature who ‘sings like the Angel Gabriel’. The poem can be found, along with 155 others, in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.


Rooster thief

My flower-growing neighbour
has robbed me of a very precious fowl.
I refer to a tobacco-coloured rooster
which grazed in a chicken coop
at the end of the house’s back patio.
I didn’t make any complaint,
I simply didn’t dare.
Every daybreak I set out furtively
down the dirt road
that skirts our properties
and drawing close to his place
I once again heard my cockerel crow.
It is a bird that sings like the Angel Gabriel
scaring off night’s shadows,
with four well defined musical inflections.
This modest ritual
went on for three nights.
Three times I awaited the dawn
longing to hear him.
My sight and hearing
sharpened in such a fashion
during that last gesture
over ownership of a bird
that I felt
the debt had been settled.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)


Ladrón de gallos

Mi vecino floricultor
me ha robado un ave muy preciada.
Se trata de un gallo color tabaco
que pastaba en una jaula
al fondo del segundo patio de la casa.
No hice ningún reclamo,
simplemente no me atreví.
Cada madrugada caminé furtivo
por la carretera de tierra
que bordea nuestras casas
y acercándome a la suya
escuché de nuevo cantar mi gallo.
Es un ave que canta como el Ángel Gabriel
espantando las sombras,
con cuatro inflexiones musicales bien marcadas.
Este modesto ritual
se prolongó por tres noches.
Tres veces aguardé el amanecer
anhelando escucharlo.
Mi vista y mi oído
se aguzaron de tal manera
en aquel último gesto
de pertenencia sobre el ave,
que sentí
que la deuda estaba saldada.


Igor Barreto was born in Venezuela in 1952. He was resident in Romania for a number of years and studied Theory of Art at the University of Bucharest (1973-1979). Barreto has been translated into English, Italian and French. In 2008 he won a Guggenheim fellowship. He has also worked as Professor of Literature at both the Central and Metropolitan Universities of Venezuela. Barreto has published a dozen books of poetry with Sociedad de Amigos, Caracas, and his collected poems, El campo / El ascensor was published by Pre-textos in 2014.

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