We present this work in honor of the poet’s 350th birthday.
In all faith, we did our part: generated punctually, prepared adequately, ejected promptly, and swam in the approved manner in the appropriate direction; did all instinctive things well, even eagerly- an exemplary start. But then the barrier: unexpectedness unexpectedly. (They did not tell us this). To go back impossible, unnatural: so round; many times; we tired ourselves. Where were the promised homes, embedded in the soft wall? Or the anticipated achievement so momentous, fulfilling? So we died: what else was there to do? But in all faith, we did our part!
We present this work in honor of the 35th anniversary of the poet’s death.
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.
We present this work in honor of Western Australia Day.
They’d been warned on every farm that playing in the silos would lead to death. You sink in wheat. Slowly. And the more you struggle the worse it gets. ‘You’ll see a rat sail past your face, nimble on its turf, and then you’ll disappear.’ In there, hard work has no reward. So it became a kind of test to see how far they could sink without needing a rope to help them out. But in the midst of play rituals miss a beat—like both leaping in to resolve an argument as to who’d go first and forgetting to attach the rope. Up to the waist and afraid to move. That even a call for help would see the wheat trickle down. The painful consolidation of time. The grains in the hourglass grotesquely swollen. And that acrid chemical smell of treated wheat coaxing them into a near-dead sleep.
Come, spend a night in the country with me, my friend (you whom the stars above would gladly call their friend), for winter’s finally over. Listen to the chatter of the doves and swallows! We’ll lounge beneath the pomegranates, palm trees, apple trees, under every lovely, leafy thing, and walk among the vines, enjoy the splendid faces we will see, in a lofty palace built of noble stones. Resting solidly on thick foundations, its walls like towers fortified, set upon a flat place, plains all around it splendid to look at from within its courts. Chambers constructed, adorned with carvings, open-work and closed-work, paving of alabaster, paving of marble, gates so many that I can’t even count them! Chamber doors paneled with ivory like palace doors, reddened with panels of cedar, like the Temple. Wide windows over them, and within those windows, the sun and moon and stars! It has a dome, too, like Solomon’s palanquin, suspended like a jewel-room, turning, changing, pearl-colored; crystal and marble in day-time; but in the evening seeming just like the night sky, all set with stars. It cheers the heart of the poor and the weary; perishing, bitter men forget their want. I saw it once and I forgot my troubles, my heart took comfort from distress, my body seemed to fly for joy, as if on wings of eagles. There was a basin brimming, like Solomon’s basin, but not on the backs of bulls like his – lions stood around its edge with wells in their innards, and mouths gushing water; they made you think of whelps that roar for prey; for they had wells inside them, wells that emitted water in streams through their mouths like rivers. Then there were canals with does planted by them, does that were hollow, pouring water, sprinkling the plants planted in the garden-beds, casting pure water upon them, watering the myrtle-garden, treetops fresh and sprinkling, and everything was fragrant as spices, everything as if it were perfumed with myrrh. Birds were singing in the boughs, peering through the palm-fronds, and there were fresh and lovely blossoms – rose, narcissus, saffron – each one boasting that he was the best, (though we thought every one was beautiful). The narcissuses said, “We are so white we rule the sun and moon and stars!” The doves complained at such talk and said, “No, we are the princesses here! Just see our neck-rings, with which we charm the hearts of men, dearer far than pearls.” The bucks rose up against the girls and darkened their splendor with their own, boasting that they were the best of all, because they are like young rams. But when the sun rose over them, I cried out, “Halt! Do not cross the boundaries!”
I swim in that long river And rest on its bank. I climb that high hillcrest And cut the wild thorn. Alas! I journey afar, Alone I travel, in utter solitude. I look up at that temperate wind And shed tears like the rain.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.
There will be anger Followed by the deluge. We know we will be among the drowned. But we will take the devil with us down To the deepest of deeps: Our end will be his… But slowly… What will be said Of us when they look back on it all? What will be said Of us after the deluge, After the coming drowning, after the coming anger, What will be said of us poets and writers? Were we men in truth, Half-men Or mere shadows? Fear, Fear of the sword, Made of us something unspeakable — Except in the vulgar tongue.
What will be said? Will it be said we chose silence For fear of death? The letter has an edge like a sword, Can turn against its speaker.
What will be said? Will it be said that we chose to speak in symbols, Whispers, silent gestures, In all the arts of coded speech? We said it all — in vino veritas, But people Had other concerns: Their daily bread, A kilo of meat.
Maqrizi, You who always come after the deluge: A plague is a plague — It always comes on the tail of a famine. It snatched your daughter, and many other daughters As the wolf was standing guard.
I hereby solemnly swear, Maqrizi, Not to leave this world Without scandal. I ask no one for justice: True justice is not to be begged. Our judges are high priests, Our high priests are distant And all are traitors. Let someone else write poetry, I am writing the Chronicles of Maqrizi.
I drink, day And night I drink. Sinking… I sink into my depths. There I see him, In my heart a holy pearl, Unbreakable, Even if a giant mountain falls upon it. When I sober up, I float to the surface, lose my pearl. Was it lost? No. It was me who was lost— When I sobered up I floated to the surface. For sure the pearl is down there in the depths… No. It is between two thighs, trampled under feet Shod in military or civilian boots, Under the wheels of petro-dollar cars.
Usually I drink from two glasses… My comrade in the madhouse died. He used to share my drink And share my grief. We had no time for joy: He used to share my past anger, And present anger — and that to come. Usually I drink from two glasses, The second to toast him. But tonight I drink from one glass: It seems my friend, upon his death, Had given up drinking; Or maybe it was me who gave up. Then let me drink to giving up drinking Until the last of all the Noahs’ arks has left With all those who will be saved from the coming deluge.
I sink and sink And see in my glass Monkey fornicating with rat Or rat fornicating with wolf Or wolf with owl.
Maqrizi’s daughter is lost In the plague And the plague always comes on the tail of a famine, When prices are measured against a kilo of meat, Even the price of writers, novelists, poets, Artists and scientists, When the stuff of the dreams of the poor is meat; And fuul beans, Fruit for the masters.
I recall a poet’s saying: I shall sleep not to see My country being bought and sold.
Then drink from two glasses, Or, if you wish, drink from one. If my death cannot be driven away, Then let me engage with it With what I have at hand.
All folks who pretend to religion and grace, Allow there’s a HELL, but dispute of the place: But, if HELL may by logical rules be defined The place of the damned -I’ll tell you my mind. Wherever the damned do chiefly abound, Most certainly there is HELL to be found: Damned poets, damned critics, damned blockheads, damned knaves, Damned senators bribed, damned prostitute slaves; Damned lawyers and judges, damned lords and damned squires; Damned spies and informers, damned friends and damned liars; Damned villains, corrupted in every station; Damned time-serving priests all over the nation; And into the bargain I’ll readily give you Damned ignorant prelates, and counsellors privy. Then let us no longer by parsons be flammed, For we know by these marks the place of the damned: And HELL to be sure is at Paris or Rome. How happy for us that it is not at home!
We present this work in honor of the 90th anniversary of the poet’s death.
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.