Bandoneon of the Slum

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

Pascual Contursi
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.

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
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


We present this work in honor of Malvinas Day.

04-02 Cucurto
Washington Cucurto
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
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.

Pessimism of Understanding, Optimism of Attention

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 45th birthday.

01-28 Neuman
Andrés Neuman
b. 1977


My attention
steps down from its center
like an oil stain.

Contradictory hand:
while it feigns snatching
specific objects,
its fingers count digressions.
Is to touch to have faith?

I attend to that shoe
that almost frees itself
from a young woman’s heel,
to the deaf-mute debates
on the TV in the back,
to the impatient tics of the light
and, just every so often,
to the time I have left.


Translation by Arthur Malcolm Dixon

from Riddance

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 70th birthday.

10-09 Negroni
Maria Negroni
b. 1951


Am I that woman in the dance
raising inexperience like light
addressing herself like a feather
to her most elusive whereness?
Strange flower growing soft
out of the frame of language
trying on sandals and flinging
into writing unscathed by writing.

Winding the body’s lexicon
it hit me in the takeaway
shown my treasure in nothing
I wavered: submit or escape
it’s a question of what is lost
in the beat of a voluptuous skirt
what battle is evaded what dire
endearing enemy abandoned.

Strange as if lit from within
with the indicative expounding
from neckline to poem curve
I learned to conjugate affairs
but for what if the nitty-gritty
of nothing like eternity
consisted in leaving me naked
doubtlessly an odd privilege.

What if time were lawless?
Where do you keep what wasn’t?
They go on like this and that
you never know what kills you
and January sun and you just came
just like a breath and worked me
to confine my body’s surrounds
to the exacting beauty of lack.

And I who’d thought to interject
geography as flamboyant sun
retrace my past in slip-ups
sweet-talking myself tough
and even pin on you a trinket
clinched knees sissy feet
which you’ll interpret as expertise
but is just a pretense for hurt.

If together where the belly bends
if I contracted and opened for you
if something like a sky disclosed
to what encloses inside blue
if you drew me so disposed
if I existed where you lost me
if a spasm and other orphandoms
if imperfection is a gift.

Contrary to the clock hands
too long in two voices unreleased
you walk me through my legs
to tumult with no predicate
while I angle for the occasional
avails of female cunning
tattooing the flipside of language
digits an animal won’t give up.

Night is a house to wander
with Spanish moss poison
I mean, to look for looseness
beyond your foremost failure
maybe that was the attraction
out of all you gave me and got
how you tossed me into boleos
heart antsy the secret clear.


Translation by Michelle Gil-Montero


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

Oliverio Girondo
1891 – 1967


I play
I play pores
coves I play
on subjects of nerves
weavings that play upon me
tropical bowels I play
only only
heavy breathing
I play and moreplay
and nothing

Prefigures of absence
inconsistent tropes
what a you
what a what
what a flute
what loot
what hollows
what masks
what empty lonely reaches
what a yes what a no
what a yesno fate putting me out of tune
what reflexes reflect
what deeps
what wizard material
what keys
what nocturnal ingredients
what frozen shutters that do not open
what a nothing I play


Translation by Molly Weigel

Little Ode to Melancholy

We present this work in honor of the 25th anniversary of the poet’s death.

07-31 Molinari
Ricardo Molinari
1898 – 1996


Over the wide cold leaves of time you arrive, stained
by the fleeting sun of the rainy seasons on the plains.
You come lukewarm in color and shivering, and my heart
feels the bliss, holds it, from a word
unspoken, and the murmuring steps on the grass cover
the ennui, the glow,
of an essence withheld, drowned and remote.
You gather a robe around you—proper, singular—,
folding it around you
around you, curved to fit the bone.
How much of the soul, what depths of the soul you want
to enter you, to touch you lightly in passing! Yes:
even as air
enters the mouth, claustral and flaring.
You go with the ocean tides and the watery brilliance of
the slow, final skies, which go
veiled toward the south where the great red bustard flies
and nests, and the night
turns back and calls full of anguish under the flowering
nostalgic and scattered.


Translation by Inés Probert

Minimal Miniseries of Marksmanship

In honor of Argentine Independence Day, we present this work by one of Argentina’s finest contemporary poets.

07-09 Neuman
Andrés Neuman
b. 1977


This insect is the hero
of some resistance movement.
He wheels around
my enemy hand
and dodges every attempt
to interrupt his slight digressions.

As I’m not capable, I admire him instead.
Does admiration
combat this impotence
or confirm it?
Is my compassion the fruit
of missing the mark?

The insect leaves me
his autograph on the air
with the faint buzz of epigrams.