Yesterday, As You Were Reading

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 140th birthday.

Vicenta Castro Cambón
Argentine
1882 – 1928

 

“Are you feeling cold?” you asked me.
I couldn’t deny that I was:
you’d detected it in my countenance
and possibly even my voice.

You were also feeling cold.
I could tell, though not by your face;
it’s as if your soul were kept on display
to mine in a crystal vase.
“Close the door!” you commanded.
I thought: what we ought to close
instead is that book of yours…
That book was the source of the cold.

Translation by Susan McLean

Ashes

We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Alejandra Pizarnik
Argentine
1936 – 1972

 

The night splintered into stars
watching me dazzled
the air hurls hate
its face embellished with music.

We will go soon

Secret dream
ancestor of my smile
the world is emaciated
and there is a lock but no keys
and there is terror but not tears.

What will I do with myself?

Because to You I owe what I am

But I have no tomorrow

Because to You I…

The night suffers.

Translation by Frank Graziano and Maria Rosa Fort

Etherial Material

We present this work in honor of Argentine Independence Day.

Mirta Rosenberg
Argentine
1951 – 2019

 

My children are by far my greatest revolution.

Twice I orbited complete
like a gravid planet
around the sun. I wrote new names
in the celestial script, with disquiet,
alarm, sedition.

I toasted them with other women,
with whisky and with beer,
in the planet where we women drink a toast
to things that grow, and despite them.

Happy and ill-fated, I made of my revolution
a conquest, and an open wound
of those times when I orbited complete.

I keep it fresh to let enter me
a certain unrecognisable family air
that now my children exhale
as naturally as can be.

 

Translation by Julie Wark

I Cannot Complain

In honor of Argentina’s National Flag Day, we present this work by one of the most cutting-edge Argentine poets.

06-20 Urondo
Francisco Urondo
Argentine
1930 – 1976

 

I am left with only a few friends and those here
are usually far and I am left
an aftertaste I keep within close reach
as if a firearm. I will use it for noble things:
for defeating the enemy—God
willing—, for speaking modestly
about threatening possibilities.

I hope bitterness won’t intercept
forgiveness, that distant wind
of affections I am trying to describe: I hope the rigor of this
will not convert into the thick glass
of the dead, though I am curious to know the things
they’ll have to say of me, after my death:
to know which were your versions of love,
of those tangential meetings,
because my friends tend to be signals
of my life, by tragic luck, giving me all
that isn’t here. Prematurely, with one foot
on each lip of the crevice that opens
before me, at the feet of glory, I salute you all,
hold my nose and let the abyss surround me.

 

Translation by Julia Leverone

Immortality

We present this work in honor of the 35th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-07 Costantini
Humberto Costantini
Argentine
1924 – 1987

It simply happens I have become immortal.
The city buses respect me,
they bow before me,
like lap dogs they lick my shoes.

It simply happens I am no longer dying.
There’s no angina worth anything,
no typhus, cornice, war, or cannon,
cancer, knife, or flood,
no Junín fever, no vigilantes.
I’m on the other side,
Simply, I’m on the other side,
from this side,
fully immortal.

I move among Olympus, gods, ambrosias,
I laugh, or sneeze, or tell a joke
And time expands, expands like a crazy foam.
How marvelous existing
like this, immortal
celebrating birth every five minutes,
being a million birds,
an atrocious leavening.
What a scandal, caramba!
this swarm of life, this plague called by my
name, excessive, increasing,
fully immortal.

I used to suffer, sure, from flus, fears,
budgets,
Idiot bosses, indigestion,
homesickness, solitude,
bad luck…
But that was a century ago,
twenty centuries,
when I was mortal.
When I was
so mortal, so stupid and so mortal,
that I didn’t even love you,
you have to understand.

Lighthouse in the Night

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 130th birthday.

Alfonsina Storni
Argentine
1892 – 1938

 

The sky a black sphere,
the sea a black disk.

The lighthouse opens
its solar fan on the coast.

Spinning endlessly at night,
whom is it searching for

when the mortal heart
looks for me in the chest?

Look at the black rock
where it is nailed down.

A crow digs endlessly
but no longer bleeds.

Bandoneon of the Slum

We present this work in honor of the 90th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Pascual Contursi
Argentine
1888 – 1932

 

Bandoneon of the slum,
old deflated bellow
I found you like a baby
that a mother abandoned,
at the door of a convent
without plaster on the walls,
under the light of a little lamp
that at night it illuminated you.

Bandoneon,
because you see that I am sad
and I can no longer sing,
you know
that I carry in the soul
branded a pain.

I took you to my room,
I cuddled you against my cold chest,
I was also left abandoned
in my digs.
You have wanted to console me
with your rasping voice
and your painful note
increased my illusion.

 

Translation by Alberto Paz

Crestfallen My Burning Soul

We present this work in honor of National Missing Children’s Day.

05-25 Gelman
Juan Gelman
Argentine
1930 – 2014

 

crestfallen my burning soul
dips a finger in your name / scrawls
your name on the night’s walls /
it’s no use / it bleeds dangerously /

soul to soul it looks at you / becomes a child /
opens its breast to take you in /
protect you / reunite you / undie you /
your little shoe stepping on the

world’s suffering softening it /
trampled brightness / undone water
this way you speak / crackle / burn / and love /
you give me your nevers just like a child

Wonderlessland

We present this work in honor of Malvinas Day.

04-02 Cucurto
Washington Cucurto
Argentine
b. 1973

This morning I woke up saddened.
This land can’t give any Wonder.
Is it impossible for this Insanityland to grow
a little bit (a little green corner) of Wonder?
This land is sadder than a woman asking for sugar.
This morning I woke up downright depressed.
And I have 35 reasons.
Someone has to be guilty of planting
the bombs around this Wonderlessland.
Without poetry readers these bombs are invisible,
they don’t make noise, don’t cause panic.
These are perfect bombs that kill soundlessly.
These are the modern bombs that man invented,
they kill like falling leaves.
But leaves in the forest, they aren’t, falling
are bombs. In the cities, every day,
every hour, and people think that it’s winter arriving.
Why would they plant so many bombs in this Wonderlessland
and in so many countries like this one, Wonderless.
Is it that they are filled with wonder seeing
how their bombs explode over our houses, on the heads
of our children, onto our beds and tables; our chairs become matches.
And what will happen to the people of this Land
who don’t react? The people of this land are living in the bombs’
ruins and don’t react and don’t even try
to wake up sad, at the very least, like I do,
this January morning.
You go out onto the street and no one hears the bombs,
they don’t see the mutilated children wrapped in the aura
of their own pain, I don’t know if no one sees
them or hears them or if they don’t want to see
or listen. These are the modern bombs that humanity
has invented, bombs against hearing, against listening.
Bombs that destroy everything with the greatest
possible sensibility and diplomacy.
Peaceful bombs that burn, mutilate, uproot the tree trunks
and turn the butterflies from Patagonia’s Eden of dreams
into wild monsters.
They invented their silent pacifist
bombs that day after day they shoot at us with their
missile launchers and no one hears, or sees, or feels anything.
This is Insanityland, no Wonder
no green, no red kiss, no flow
of children across a field, this
is the land of total destruction,
of catastrophe approaching all that is possible.
I go into the street and scream:
Hey, you! Hey, you! Hey you, Dominicanne!
But no one hears or sees or feels anything,
I go through the streets and the bars and all
the hang outs showing people a mutilated
child and they don’t see him, they don’t see him.
Don’t you see this child who I have by the hand?
I say to some friendly beer drinkers
at a downtown bar.
Where? Where? they say, and keep drinking.
The world is a beerzy lane.
I prefer to think that nobody hears anything
because the noise from bombings across the land
doesn’t let them think.

Ballad of the Butterfly

02-28 Walsh
María Elena Walsh
Argentine
1930 – 2011

A butterfly once bestowed her passion
Upon a sailor – in her fashion
Flitting about the hotel gate
Waiting, ecstatic, to follow her mate
Upon his white cap to alight
Then onto his white ship,
at dizzying height
She flew to the vessel’s
high-reaching stack
At her first glimpse of ocean
quite taken aback.
On him she lavished all the rapture
Her brief day’s span of life
could capture
Singing: O lovely Sailor!
O Sailor, my love
Our happiness lights
the heavens above
In the afternoon as the sun sank low
From the sailor’s eyes
sad tears did flow
So to distract him from his sorrow
She danced in the air without
thought of the morrow.
From the white masts
she drifted away
As a mighty gust interrupted
her play.
Into the gray sea she fell and drowned
The stalwart sailor heard not a sound
But all unaware a salty tear
Rolled down his cheek,
though he felt no fear,
Marking the end of the love so true
Of the butterfly and the lad in blue.