Ricardo Blanco's Blog

Poems for staying at home (Day 38)

This great and terrible poem of witness is now ten years old. The poem has become a symbol of resistance to state and narco gang violence and has in turn brought death threats to its author, María Rivera. It offers testament to a pandemic of murders in Mexico, many of them the gratuitous and brutal killings of women. It is a poem that never loses its power.

Here is a video of the poet Clare E. Potter reading ‘The Dead’ in English.

 

For an interview with María Rivera by Dylan Brennan, in which she speaks of the origins of the poem, please click here.

A video of the poet reading ‘Los Muertos’ can be found here:

 

 

 

The Dead

Here they come
the decapitated,
the amputees,
the torn into pieces,
the women with their coccyx split apart,
those with their heads smashed in,
the little ones crying
inside dark walls
of minerals and sand.
Here they come
those who sleep in buildings
that house secret tombs:
they come with their eyes blindfolded,
their hands tied,
shot between their temples.
Here come those who were lost in Tamaupilas,
in-laws, neighbours,
the woman they gang raped before killing her,
the man who tried to stop it and received a bullet,
the woman they also raped, who escaped and told the story
comes walking down Broadway,
consoled by the wail of the ambulances,
the hospital doors,
light shining on the waters of the Hudson.
Here they come
the dead who set out from Usulután,
from La Paz
from La Unión,
from La Libertad,
from Sonsonate,
from San Salvador,
from San Juan Mixtepec,
from Cuscatlán,
from El Progreso,
from El Guante,
crying,
those who were given the goodbye at a karaoke party,
and were found shot in Tecate.
Here comes the one they forced to dig his brother’s grave,
the one they murdered after collecting a four thousand dollar ransom,
those who were kidnapped
with a woman they raped in front of her eight year old son
three times.
Where do they come from,
from what gangrene,
oh lymph,
the bloodthirsty,
the heartless,
the murdering
butchers?
Here they come,
the dead so alone, so mute, so much ours,
set beneath the enormous sky of Anáhuac,
they walk,
they drag themselves,
with their bowl of horror in their hands,
their terrifying tenderness.
They are called
the dead that they found in a ditch in Taxco,
the dead that they found in remote places of Chihuahua,
the dead that they found strewn across plots of crops,
the dead that they found shot in la Marquesa,
the dead that they found hanging from bridges,
the dead that they found without heads on common land,
the dead that they found at the side of the road,
the dead that they found in abandoned cars,
the dead that they found in San Fernando,
those without number they cut into pieces and have still not been found,
the legs, the arms, the heads, the femurs of the dead
dissolved in drums.
They are called
remains, corpses, the deceased,
they are called
the dead whose mothers do not tire of waiting,
the dead whose children do not tire of waiting,
the dead whose wives do not tire of waiting,
they imagine them in subways, among gringos.
They are called
baby clothes woven in the casket of the soul,
the little tee shirt of a three-month-old
the photo of a toothless smile,
they are called mamita,
papito,
they are called
little kicks
in the tummy
and the newborn’s cry,
they are called four children,
Petronia (2), Zacarías (3), Sabas (5), Glenda (6)
and a widow (a girl) who fell in love at primary school,
they are called wanting to dance at fiestas,
they are called blushing of hot cheeks and sweaty hands,
they are called boys,
they are called wanting
to build a house,
laying bricks,
giving food to my children,
they are called two dollars for cleaning beans,
houses, estates, offices,
they are called
crying of children on earth floors,
the light flying over the birds,
the flight of pigeons in the church,
they are called
kisses at the river’s edge,
they are called
Gelder (17)
Daniel (22)
Filmar (24)
Ismael (15)
Agustín (20)
José (16)
Jacinta (21)
Inés (28)
Francisco (53)
gagged
in the scrubland,
hands tied
in the gardens of ranches,
vanished
in the gardens of ‘safe’ houses,
in some forgotten wilderness,
disintegrating mutely
and in secret,
they are called
secrets of hitmen,
secrets of slaughter,
secrets of policemen,
they are called sobbing,
they are called mist,
they are called body,
they are called skin,
they are called warmth,
they are called kiss,
they are called hug,
they are called laughter,
they are called people,
they are called pleading,
they were called I,
they were called you,
they were called us,
they are called shame,
they are called sobbing.
Here they go
María,
Juana,
Petra,
Carolina,
13,
18,
25,
16,
breasts bitten,
hands tied,
their bodies burned to a crisp,
their bones polished by the sand of the desert.
They are called
the dead women that no one knows no one saw being killed,
they are called
women who go out alone to bars at night,
they are called
working women who leave their homes at dawn,
they are called
sisters,
daughters,
mothers,
aunts,
disappeared,
raped,
burnt,
chucked away,
they are called meat,
they are called meat.
Here,
without flowers,
without tombstones,
without an age,
without a name,
without sobbing,
they sleep in their cemetery:
its name is Temixco,
its name is Santa Ana,
its name is Mazatepec,
its name is Juárez,
its name is Puente de Ixtla,
its name is San Fernando,
its name is Tlaltizapán,
its name is Samalayuca,
its name is el Capulín,
its name is Reynosa,
its name is Nuevo Laredo,
its name is Guadalupe,
its name is Lomas de Poleo,
its name is Mexico.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

 

Los Muertos

Allá vienen
los descabezados,
los mancos,
los descuartizados,
a las que les partieron el coxis,
a los que les aplastaron la cabeza,
los pequeñitos llorando
entre paredes oscuras
de minerales y arena.
Allá vienen
los que duermen en edificios
de tumbas clandestinas:
vienen con los ojos vendados,
atadas las manos,
baleados entre las sienes.
Allí vienen los que se perdieron por Tamaulipas,
cuñados, yernos, vecinos,
la mujer que violaron entre todos antes de matarla,
el hombre que intentó evitarlo y recibió un balazo,
la que también violaron, escapó y lo contó viene
caminando por Broadway
se consuela con el llanto de las ambulancias,
las puertas de los hospitales,
la luz brillando en el agua del Hudson.
Allá vienen
los muertos que salieron de Usulután,
de La Paz,
de La Unión,
de La Libertad,
de Sonsonate,
de San Salvador,
de San Juan Mixtepec,
de Cuscatlán,
de El Progreso,
de El Guante,
llorando,
a los que despidieron en una fiesta con karaoke,
y los encontraron baleados en Tecate.
Allí viene al que obligaron a cavar la fosa para su hermano,
al que asesinaron luego de cobrar cuatro mil dólares,
los que estuvieron secuestrados
con una mujer que violaron frente a su hijo de ocho años
tres veces.
¿De dónde vienen,
de qué gangrena,
oh linfa,
los sanguinarios,
los desalmados,
los carniceros
asesinos?
Allá vienen
los muertos tan solitos, tan mudos, tan nuestros,
engarzados bajo el cielo enorme del Anáhuac,
caminan,
se arrastran,
con su cuenco de horror entre las manos,
su espeluznante ternura.
Se llaman
los muertos que encontraron en una fosa en Taxco,
los muertos que encontraron en parajes alejados de Chihuahua,
los muertos que encontraron esparcidos en parcelas de cultivo,
los muertos que encontraron tirados en la Marquesa,
los muertos que encontraron colgando de los puentes,
los muertos que encontraron sin cabeza en terrenos ejidales,
los muertos que encontraron a la orilla de la carretera,
los muertos que encontraron en coches abandonados,
los muertos que encontraron en San Fernando,
los sin número que destazaron y aún no encuentran,
las piernas, los brazos, las cabezas, los fémures de muertos
disueltos en tambos.
Se llaman
restos, cadáveres, occisos,
se llaman
los muertos a los que madres no se cansan de esperar
los muertos a los que hijos no se cansan de esperar,
los muertos a los que esposas no se cansan de esperar,
imaginan entre subways y gringos.
Se llaman
chambrita tejida en el cajón del alma,
camisetita de tres meses,
la foto de la sonrisa chimuela,
se llaman mamita,
papito,
se llaman
pataditas
en el  vientre
y el primer llanto,
se llaman cuatro hijos,
Petronia (2), Zacarías (3), Sabas (5), Glenda (6)
y una viuda (muchacha) que se enamoró cuando estudiaba la primaria,
se llaman ganas de bailar en las fiestas,
se llaman rubor de mejillas encendidas y manos sudorosas,
se llaman muchachos,
se llaman ganas
de construir una casa,
echar tabique,
darle de comer a mis hijos,
se llaman dos dólares por limpiar frijoles,
casas, haciendas, oficinas,
se llaman
llantos de niños en pisos de tierra,
la luz volando sobre los pájaros,
el vuelo de las palomas en la iglesia,
se llaman
besos a la orilla del río,
se llaman
Gelder (17)
Daniel (22)
Filmar (24)
Ismael (15)
Agustín (20)
José (16)
Jacinta (21)
Inés (28)
Francisco (53)
entre matorrales,
amordazados,
en jardines de ranchos
maniatados,
en jardines de casas de seguridad
desvanecidos,
en parajes olvidados,
desintegrándose muda,
calladamente,
se llaman
secretos de sicarios,
secretos de matanzas,
secretos de policías,
se llaman llanto,
se llaman neblina,
se llaman cuerpo,
se llaman piel,
se llaman tibieza,
se llaman beso,
se llaman abrazo,
se llaman risa,
se llaman personas,
se llaman súplicas,
se llamaban yo,
se llamaban tú,
se llamaban nosotros,
se llaman vergüenza,
se llaman llanto.
Allá van
María,
Juana,
Petra,
Carolina,
13,
18,
25,
16,
los pechos mordidos,
las manos atadas,
calcinados sus cuerpos,
sus huesos pulidos por la arena del desierto.
Se llaman
las muertas que nadie sabe nadie vio que mataran,
se llaman
las mujeres que salen de noche solas a los bares,
se llaman
mujeres que trabajan salen de sus casas en la madrugada,
se llaman
hermanas,
hijas,
madres,
tías,
desaparecidas,
violadas,
calcinadas,
aventadas,
se llaman carne,
se llaman carne.
Allá
sin flores,
sin losas,
sin edad,
sin nombre,
sin llanto,
duermen en su cementerio:
se llama Temixco,
se llama Santa Ana,
se llama Mazatepec,
se llama Juárez,
se llama Puente de Ixtla,
se llama San Fernando,
se llama Tlaltizapán,
se llama Samalayuca,
se llama el Capulín,
se llama Reynosa,
se llama Nuevo Laredo,
se llama Guadalupe,
se llama Lomas de Poleo,
se llama México.

 

María Rivera was born in Mexico City in June 1971. She is a poet and peace activist. She was awarded the Premio Nacional de Poesía Joven Elías Nandino in 2000 with her first book, Translación de dominio. In 2005 she received the Premio Nacional de Poesía Aguascalientes with the poetry collection Hay batallas (2005). She is an active member of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Artes in Mexico. This poem appears in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.

Poems for staying at home (Day 37)

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For some of us, life during lockdown has sometimes seemed like one continuous screen session, interacting virtually with people we barely know. How strange, then, to read Paula Piedra’s poem about coming home to a TV screen filled with familiar faces, after a day spent among strangers.

 

Sure, there’s an American Dream

I like pretending,
I go out without make-up,
hair in my face,
wearing whatever clothes
to walk down some street
and arrive at a building.

There I am remunerated for doing nothing
and talking with people I don’t know
despite recognising their voices.

The conversations are over quickly,
more skimmed over, mechanically,
while time passes.

Eager for something to happen
after the working day,
I return home
and there – finally! –
I find familiar faces
on the television.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

Sí hay sueño americano

Me gusta disimular,
voy sin maquillaje,
el pelo en la cara,
con cualquier ropa
para andar por alguna calle
y llegar a un edificio.

Allí soy retribuida por no hacer nada
y hablar con personas que no conozco
a pesar de reconocer sus voces.

Las conversaciones transcurren rápido,
mecánicas, más repasadas
mientras pasa el tiempo.

Con ansias de que suceda algo,
después de la jornada,
regreso a casa.
Encuentro ¡al fin!
caras conocidas en la televisión.

 

 

Paula Piedra was born in San José, Costa Rica in 1976. She studied interior design, and published her first book of poetry, Ejercicios Mentales, in 2003. In addition to her own poetry collections she has been included in a number of anthologies published in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina and Guatemala. She has written articles and columns for magazines in Costa Rica. She currently works as a curator of contemporary art projects.

Poems for staying at home (Day 36)

Ten tequilas

 

We know that feeling, of stepping out into the street in flames, and without ourselves. The peculiarity of drinking tequila or mescal in some darkened den, followed by that lurch into sunlight – or as here – into the night. Everything takes on a dizzying vibrancy, and one’s vision amidst the glare, fuzzy though not actually impaired, turns as much in upon oneself as outward, and both worlds are equally bewildering. Thanks to Mexico’s Julio Trujillo for the insight, and for the poem, which can be found in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.

 

Ten Tequilas

I went out into the street in flames
and without myself,
what was left were shreds of gazes:
the world was my eyes
and my eyes
me,
seeking and at the same time
willing to be found,
striding down there below,
gasp and echo,
a flow without direction that wants
to debouch.
What sea awaits the man who brims over?
But the instant doesn’t ask questions,
it advances and remains standing,
straightens up to full height,
hoists
its colours
that in this blue night
keep flying.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

Diez tequilas

A la calle salí en llamas y sin mí,
lo que restaba eran jirones de miradas:
el mundo era mis ojos
y mis ojos
yo,
buscando a la vez
dispuesto a ser hallado,
zancadas allá abajo,
resuello y resonancia,
caudal que va sin rumbo y que desea
desembocar.
¿Qué mar espera al hombre desbordado?,
pero el instante no pregunta,
avanza y se mantiene,
se yergue a toda altura,
iza
sus estandartes
que en esta noche azul
siguen ondeando.

 

Julio Trujillo was born in Mexico City in September 1969. He studied Hispanic language and literature at UNAM. He has been editor of the Revista Universidad de México and Lectura, director of the Revista Mexicana de Cultura and El Nacional, editorial coordinator of El Huevo, and chief editor of Letras Libres. He was awarded an INBA grant in 1993 and a FONCA grant in 1994 and 1996. He has been a member of the SNCA since 2004. He won the Premio de Poesía Punto de Partida in 1991 and the Premio Nacional de Poesía Joven Elías Nandino in 1994 for Una sangre. His latest book, Atajos y rodeos (Ediciones Cal y arena, 2015) is a hybrid collection of essays and reflective pieces.

Poems for staying at home (Day 35)

 

Beach poets

 

Let’s spare a thought for the beach poets, that ‘handful of geniuses’ who hang out on the sands, ‘making poetry with the waves’. Like the Dominican poet Frank Báez, perhaps, whose poetry does more than merely spread the sunshine of his native island. Frank, according to one critic, on the Poetry International archives, inhabits ‘the universe of the young man who wants to live a grand and buoyant life but cannot get his beloved Caribbean island out of his system. Again and again Báez returns to the quay, the pier, the waves . . ‘

 

The Beach Poets

Now I will take the opportunity of telling you the legend
of the beach poets.
A handful of geniuses who live on the beaches
making poetry with the waves:
writing odes, sonnets and elegies on the pages of the sea.
Beach poets do not need to go to university,
nor to work, nor belong
to the national federation of surfers.
It is enough for them to have an ear for the ocean.

The beach poets paddle and mount
their boards with a Spartan discipline,
ready to tame the tumult of wild and deafening waves.
When the weather forecast announces a hurricane
they are the first to arrive at the beaches.
Firemen and civil defence gendarmes with megaphones
beg them to leave.

At thirty, like the Romantic poets, they retire.
Some of them die by drowning.
Others are attacked by sharks and lose
their legs or arms.
Others become lawyers.
But believe it or not, their works endure.
And night and day, if you come close enough to the sea you can hear wave after wave reciting them.

 

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

Los Beach Poets

Ahora aprovecho para contarles la leyenda
de los beach poets.
Un puñado de genios que viven en las playas
haciendo poesía con las olas:
escribiendo odas, sonetos y elegías en las páginas del mar.
Los beach poets no necesitan ir a la universidad,
ni trabajar, ni pertenecer
a la federación nacional de surfistas.
Les basta con tener oído para el océano.

Los beach poets reman y se suben
en las tablas con disciplina espartana,
dispuestos a domar la manada de salvajes y estruendosas olas.
Cuando meteorología anuncia un huracán
son los primeros que llegan a las playas.
Los bomberos y la defensa civil con megáfonos
les ruegan que salgan.

A los treinta, al igual que los poetas románticos, se retiran.
Algunos mueren ahogados.

Otros son atacados por tiburones y pierden
sus piernas o sus brazos.
Otros se hacen abogados.
Pero créase o no sus obras perduran.
Y noche y día, si uno se acerca lo suficiente al mar
puede escuchar como este ola tras ola las recita.

 

 

Frank Báez, born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1978, is a poet, editor and writer. He has published four books of poetry, one book of short stories and three books of chronicles. His poetry collection Postales has been published in five countries and was awarded the Salome Ureña National Prize for Poetry in 2009. In 2014 a selection of his poetry was published in English, titled Last Night I Dreamt I was a DJ (Miami: Jai-Alai Books, 2014). His work is included in the anthology El canon abierto: última poesía en español (Madrid: Visor Libros, 2015), brings together many of the most relevant Spanish- language poets born after 1970. Báez also forms part of the multidisciplinary collective El Hombrecito, combining performance in music, literature and visual arts. Two of his poems appear in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America. In 2017 Báez was the only poet included on the Bogotá39 list of the best Latin-American writers under forty.

 

frank_baez_by_lidybel_martinezjpg_768x768

Frank Báez © Lidybel Martinez

Poems for staying at home (Day 34)

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“This is the time of the killers.” Today’s poem is in tribute to George Floyd, and in support of Black Lives Matter.

Palimpsest from Rimbaud

I am writing over words written
On the skin of other words.
I am an echo of other echoes. A trace of other traces.
I write crossing out voices
As if the paper were a transient slate.
I realize that at the bottom of this page
Torn away from his prison diary
The poet attached vertigo
Before proclaiming himself emperor of silence,
And despite this being heresy
I write over his voice.
I cross out his black A, his white E, his red I,
His blue O, his green U
And I stamp my symbols with impunity,
But he insists on setting a trap for me.
Over my precarious words
I don’t know why
An indelible motto persists:
“This is the time of the killers.”
Once again, all together now:
“This is the time of the killers.”

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

Palimpsesto desde Rimbaud

Escribo sobre palabras escritas
En la piel de otras palabras.
Soy eco de otros ecos. Trazo de otros trazos.
Escribo tachando voces
Como si el papel fuera una pizarra fugaz.
Advierto que al fondo de esta hoja
Arrancada a su diario de prisionero,
El poeta fijó vértigos
Antes de erigirse emperador del silencio,
Y aunque resulte herejía
Escribo encima de su voz.
Tachono su A negra, su E blanca, su I roja,
Su O azul, su U verde
Y estampo mi grafía, impunemente,
Pero él insiste en tenderme una celada.
No sé por qué persiste,
Sobre mis precarias palabras
Una divisa imborrable:
“He aquí el tiempo de los asesinos”.
A ver, repitan en coro:
“He aquí el tiempo de los asesinos”.

 

 

Born in Medellín in 1946, Juan Manuel Roca is one of the most respected figures in contemporary Colombian poetry and fiction. Also a well-known journalist and social commentator, he has a long association with the world- famous poetry festival in the city of his birth, set up in defiance of many years of war and civil strife in his country. He has received numerous awards; was a finalist for the Rómulo Gallegos Prize for the Novel (2004), winner of the Cuban Casa de América Prize in 2008 for his Antología personal, and of the Spanish prize, Casa de Ameríca de Poesía Americana in 2009, for his collection Biblia de Pobres.

 

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Poems for staying at home (Day 33)

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Bunnies and top hats, David Lynch and the dark reverberations of down the rabbit hole; all of this explored by the inimitable Pedro Serrano in this quarantine poem, first published in The Other Tiger.

 

The Rabbit and the Top Hat

As in Alice’s garden
the rabbit on the damp lawn
jumps, its curvature springy.
Gently it raises its ears in tandem,
sniffing the waves of dainty herbs
and between its little teeth goes the grass
of this gleaming border.
It’s not a motionless ear in the void,
but a rug in the middle of the green,
a knot or fleecy brown pompom
that comes pulsing forward.
Startled, it bunny-hops towards the thickets
and the high spikes of the scrub
green and flat like squat towers and turrets.
Through a few magic doors
it plunges between the agapanthus and iris
as though entering a universe crammed
inside David Lynch’s top hat.
I lose track of it within that magic world,
dense and dark,
though in a sudden gust
it passes again in front of me
as if it were a streamer
with no lament or leash,
swiftly,
and so it vanishes.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

El conejo y la chistera

Como en el jardín de Alicia
el conejo en el césped húmedo
salta y muelle su curvatura.
Suave alza las orejas de dos en dos,
husmeando en las olas de hierbas frágiles
y entre sus dientecillos va el pasto de este
confín luminoso.
No es una oreja quieta en la nada,
sino una alfombra en el centro de lo verde,
un nudo o borla marrón peluda
que avanza palpitando.
En sobresaltos se mece hacia los matorrales
y las altas agujas de la maleza
verdes y chatas como torres y almenas.
A través de unas puertas mágicas
se hunde entre los agapandos y lirios
como si entrara en un universo apretado,
adentro de la chistera de David Lynch.
Ya no lo sigo en ese mundo mágico
. denso y oscuro,
aunque en una ráfaga súbita
pasa de nuevo frente a mí
como si fuera una serpentina
sin arrepentimiento ni mordaza,
repentino,
y así desaparece.

 

Pedro Serrano, born in Montreal in 1957, is a poet and professor at UNAM in México DF. He was until recently Director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre in Canada. His translations include the anthology La generación del cordero (containing many of the most prominent British poets of the 1980s), Shakespeare’s King John and the poetry of Edward Hirsch. He recently published DefenßaS, a book on poetry and other wanderings. La construcción del poeta moderno, based on this doctoral thesis, is an extended essay on T.S. Eliot and Octavio Paz, and was published 1n 2012. He was for many years the editor of the online poetry monthly Periódico de Poesía. A book of his selected poems, Peatlands, translated by Anna Crowe, was published by Arc in 2014.

Poems for staying at home (Day 32)

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Today’s poem: a perfect study in stillness, by the Mexican poet Coral Bracho.

 

Goats

In the whiteness
and its nucleus of light
the goats stand stock-still. Gently the rock
holds them in its palm;
like a brushstroke
a butterfly.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

Cabras

En la blancura persisten
las cabras quietas
y su centro de luz. Suavemente la piedra
las sostiene en la palma;
como una pincelada
a una mariposa.

 

Coral Bracho, born in Mexico City in 1951, is a poet and translator whose work has been published in several languages. Her publications include the poetry collections El ser que va a morir (J. Mortiz, 1982), La voluntad del ámbar (Ediciones Era, 1998), Ese espacio, ese jardín (Era, 2003), Si ríe el emperador (Era, 2010) and Marfa, Texas (Era, 2015). She has been a Guggenheim fellow for poetry (N.Y.), and a SNCA fellow (México). She has received the National Poetry award (Aguascalientes, 1981), the Book of the Year award (Xavier Villaurrutia 2004) and the Jaime Sabines-Gatien Lapointe Prize (Quebec, 2011), among other awards. Her Selected Poems have been translated by Forrest Gander, and published by New Directions as Firefly Under the Tongue (2008). ‘Goats’ appears in The Other Tiger: recent Poetry from Latin America.

 

 

 

Poems for staying at home (Day 31)

2 bimblebees

 

As we find ourselves in June, two bumblebees, observed by the Mexican poet Pura López Colomé, hover over ‘rose coloured leaves / from a flower that is not a rose.’

 

And the Anthurium, Undaunted

Two bumblebees
extract the juice,
sweet and bitter,
at the centre
of these rose-coloured leaves
from a flower that is not a rose.
Gorged,
they knock against the windows
again and again,
certain of migrating,
their treasure within,
beyond the air,
unaware of the eclipse
of a free pathway,
unaware
of the magnet
of a mirage.
With honey blood
as their essence,
already part of a distinct
and rapturous
marrow.

 

 

Y el anturio, impávido

Dos abejorros
extraen el jugo,
dulce y amargo,
al centro
de las hojas color de rosa
de una flor que no es rosa.
Ahítos,
golpean los ventanales
vez tras vez,
seguros de emigrar,
con el tesoro adentro,
allende el aire,
ignorantes del eclipse
de un sendero libre,
ignorantes
del imán
de un espejismo.
Con la sangre miel
en las entrañas,
parte ya de una médula
extática.
Y distinta.

 

 

Pura López Colomé was born in Mexico City in 1952 and completed her BA and MBA in Mexican Literature at UNAM. She is the author of 11 books of poems, and a Collected: Poemas reunidos 1985-2012 (México DF: Conaculta, 2013). Her own work has been wide translated, while her translations of Seamus Heaney, with whom she maintained a long friendship, are highly-regarded in the Spanish speaking world. In 2011 she recorded a bilingual anthology of poetry on CD with Alastair Reid: Resonancia/Resonance: Poetry in Two Languages (Fondo de Cultura Económica). She has received many awards for her writing and translation, including the Premio Xavier Villaurrutia, the Premio Nacional de Traducción Literaria and the Premio Nacional Alfonso Reyes. She lives in Cuernavaca.

Poems for staying at home (Day 30)

IMG_0969

 

After the weekend, this cow rummages through the debris left by the visiting humans; the remains of campfires, plastic carrier bags, bottles and beer cans. We know, we’ve seen it. Poor cow.   Fabio Morábito reminds us of the sadness in her eyes.

 

Ajusco

Cow, how much sadness
in your eyes now
that it is Monday and the field
is more immense and lonely
and around you shimmer
dirty paper plates
and beer cans.

Slabs of exile
and calm accumulate
in your figure, cow.
You look around
you, then lower your head
to rummage in the trash
like an enormous dog.

The remains of campfires
resemble the marks your teeth made,
not those of the men
who, before leaving,
burned in them plastic cups
and bottles as a last
rite of cohesion.

The fog covers the hill
and encircles you like
the sea a promontory,
and everything is quiet when
your ample motherhood,
of a sudden, claims your calf
amid the mist.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

Ajusco

Vaca, cuánta tristeza
en tus ojos ahora
que es lunes y el campo
es más inmenso y solo
y en torno a ti pululan
platos de cartón sucios
y latas de cerveza.

Pedazos de destierro
y calma se amontonan
en tu figura, vaca.
Miras alrededor
de ti, luego te agachas
hurgando en la basura
como un enorme perro.

Los restos de fogatas
parecen dentelladas
tuyas, no de los hombres
que incineran en ellas
antes de irse, último
rito de cohesión, vasos
de plástico y botellas.

La niebla cubre el cerro
y te rodea como
el mar a un promontorio,
y todo calla cuando
tu amplia maternidad,
de pronto, reclama entre
la bruma a tu becerro.

 

 

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. Three of his poems appear in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.

 

Poems for staying at home (Day 29)

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Today Piedad Bonnett sings the praises of the oft-neglected sea cucumber. I once spent so long trying to find her house in Bogotá, in a taxi with Jorge Fondebrider and a clueless driver, that she thought we’d been abducted and was on the point of phoning the kidnap rescue services. This one’s for Clare Potter.

 

Lesson in Survival

There is nothing beautiful about the sea cucumber.
It is, in truth, an animal without grace,
like its name.
At the bottom of great oceans,
unmoving, soft, amorphous,
it remains
condemned to the sand,
set apart from the beauty that the sea displays
above its body.

It is known that
when the sea cucumber gets a whiff of death
in the predator that threatens it,
it expels
not only its intestines
but the entire cluster of its gut,
which serves as food for its enemy.

In a clean ritual
the sea cucumber flees from whatever threatens to harm it.

To survive, it stays empty.

Relieved of itself and free of others
it mutates its being.

And little by little
its innards
recompose.

And it returns to being, in salty lethargy,
an entity at peace that lives in its own way.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

Lección de supervivencia

Nada hay de bello en el pepino o carajo de mar.
Es, en verdad, un animal sin gracia,
como su nombre.
En el fondo de los grandes océanos,
inmóvil, blando, amorfo,
permanece
condenado a la arena,
y ajeno a la belleza que encima de su cuerpo
despliega el mar.

Se sabe que
cuando el pepino de mar huele la muerte
en el depredador que lo amenaza,
expele
no sólo su intestino
sino el racimo entero de sus vísceras,
que sirven de alimento en su enemigo.

Como un limpio ritual
huye el pepino de aquello que amenaza con dañarlo.

Para sobrevivir queda vacío.

Liviano ya de sí y libre de otros
muda de ser.

Y poco a poco
sus entrañas
se recomponen.

Y vuelve a ser, en letargo de sal,
una entidad en paz que vive a su manera.

 

 
Piedad Bonnett was born in Amalfi, Colombia in 1951. She is a poet and novelist, whose awards include the Casa de América Prize (2011) for her collection Explicaciones no pedidas and the Poetas del Mundo Latino Prize (2012). Her memoir, Lo que no tiene nombre (That which has no name), recording the life and suicide of her son, received extraordinary plaudits across Latin America and Spain on its publication in 2013. She lives in Bogotá. This and another of her poems appears in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.

Poems for staying at home (Day 28)

Aulicino

Jorge Aulicino in Valdivia, Chile, September 2013 (photo Richard Gwyn).

 

Now, listen: do not go roaming with the possum. Is that perfectly clear?

 

from A Somewhat Difficult Syntax

The possum represents those who craved
the Holy Word, but who, once they have received it,
do nothing with it. And they breed inside the ears.
The possum represents those who wanted Grace
and Grace was given to them, to no end.
Do not move if you find a possum
on the staircase or on a taxi seat.
Its thought will crawl towards well-trodden places,
because, assured of Grace and of the Word,
it never occurs to it to do anything but wander
where once there were cities that armies
crushed beneath their boots and filled with condoms.
Better for you to keep working on your worthiness
so that the white or celestial blue light falls on you,
when you get really distracted from your work of flaying,
weeding, bending, casting to the winds, storing or tossing.
Even though you walk barefoot on the rough wharves
of your own thought, you will have to be profoundly distracted
not to receive in vain the friendship of the kingdom,
not to go roaming with the possum.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

 

de Cierta dureza en la sintaxis

La comadreja representa a quienes estuvieron deseosos
de la palabra divina, pero que nada hacen con ella
cuando la han recibido. Y crían en las orejas.
La comadreja representa a quienes quisieron la gracia
y la gracia les fue dada, para nada.
No te muevas si encontrás a la comadreja
en la escalera o en el asiento de un taxi.
Reptará su pensamiento hacia lugares hollados,
porque, segura de la gracia y la palabra,
no se le ocurre qué hacer sino vagar
por donde hubo ciudades que los ejércitos
aplastaron con botas y llenaron de condones.
Más bien continúa construyendo el merecimiento
para que descienda la luz blanca o celeste sobre vos,
cuando realmente te distraigas en tu trabajo de desollar,
carpir, doblar, aventar, guardar o sacudir.
Aunque andes descalzo por los muelles ásperos
de tu propio pensamiento, habrás de distraerte profundamente
para no recibir en vano la amistad del reino,
para no deambular con la comadreja.

 

Jorge Aulicino, born in Buenos Aires in 1949, is a poet, journalist and translator. He has published a number of poetry collections, a large selection of which appear in Estación Finlandia: Poemas Reunidos (Buenos Aires: Bajolaluna, 2012). Aulicino has translated a number of Italian poets, including Cesare Pavese and Pier Paolo Pasolini; and in 2015 published his translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He worked for the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín for 28 years and from 2005 to 2012 was the editor of the newspaper’s weekly cultural magazine, . In 2015, he won the Argentine National Poetry Prize.

 

possum-in-a-bucket

Possum in a bucket, Nicaragua 2012.

 

Poems for staying at home (Day 27)

The fall

 

Today – because ‘it’s the only thing the universe knows how to do’ – a poem about falling, from Argentina’s Beatríz Vignoli. I love the particularity of these lines:  ‘If they tell you that I fell / don’t come / and teach me revisionist aerodynamics. / Don’t tell me of those who fell in victory . . .’

 

The Fall

If they tell you that I fell
it’s because I fell.
Vertically.
And with horizontal results.
In a right angle I am
only the sides.
I am ignorant of the monumental art of slanting
the hero’s ornamental torsion
that passes off his fall as a jump.
That loop of the martyr who, ascending,
casts off the role of victim
and soars above her own anguish
is not my specialty. Me, when I fall,
I fall.
There is no parabola
no air, no lift force.
A slip: I wait. I land on the floor
by the shortest route.
An avalanche, a stone,
a beam that has been dynamited.
There is no bodily guile in my descent.
It outlasts itself: the bottom
of the abyss is softer
for one who does not fly, only falls.
If they tell you that I fell
don’t come
and teach me revisionist aerodynamics.
Don’t tell me of those who fell in victory.
Don’t come and tell me
that you don’t believe it was an accident.
The only thing I believe in is the accident.
The only thing the universe knows how to do
is fall over for no reason,
is collapse, just because.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

La caída

Si te dicen que caí
es que caí.
Verticalmente.
Y con horizontales resultados.
Soy, del ángulo recto
solamente los lados.
Ignoro el arte monumental del sesgo,
esa torsión ornamental del héroe
que hace que su caer se luzca como un salto.
Ese rizo del mártir que, ascendiendo
se sale de la víctima
y su propio tormento sobrevuela
no es mi especialidad. Yo, cuando caigo,
caigo.
No hay parábola
ni aire, ni fuerza de sustentación.
Un resbalón: espero. Al suelo llego
por la ruta más breve.
Un alud, una piedra,
una viga a la que han dinamitado.
No hay astucias del cuerpo en mi descenso.
Se sobrevive: el fondo
del abismo es más blando
para quien no vuela, sólo cae.
Si te dicen que caí,
no vengas
a enseñarme aerodinámica revisionista.
No me cuentes de los que cayeron venciendo.
No vengas a decirme
que no crees que haya sido un accidente.
En lo único que creo es en el accidente.
Lo único que sabe hacer el universo
es derrumbarse sin ningún motivo,
es desmoronarse porque sí.

 

Beatriz Vignoli was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1965. She is a novelist, poet, journalist, translator and art critic. Five of her poems appear in The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.