Poetry, translation

Two poems on bullfighting by Jack Little

Two poems on bullfighting by Jack Little
with Spanish versions by Fer de la Cruz
(in the context of bullfighting being banned in a growing number Mexican states)


A Lament for Ponciano Díaz
after Federico García Lorca

In the ganadería de Atenco
Ponciano Díaz´s father fought bulls
with a cloth in one hand and his child in the other.

In the evenings, his brother would sit on the other side of the room
the semi-darkness of the setting sun would leave half shadows:
the day´s sandy footprints, the dry spittle at the side of the old man´s mouth.

Tonight proclaims his fate is preordained
under the breath of a thousand secret voices:
some of us dwell in our passions more than others.

But before the stain of crimsons spines, and viscera between his sequins
the sunrise will be another part-renewal, grown boastful with swollen pride

the fight is in his veins.


Lamento por Ponciano Díaz
A la manera de Lorca

En la ganadería de Atenco sucedió:
el padre de Ponciano lidiaba con los toros,
capota en una mano, el niño en otra.

Por las tardes, su hermano se sentaba al lado opuesto en la misma habitación
en tanto la semi penumbra del sol al ponerse dejaba medias sombras:
las arenosas huellas de ese día, las comisuras tiesas de su padre
con un reseco rastro de saliva.

Esta noche proclama su destino
al aliento de mil voces secretas:
algunos habitamos las pasiones mejor que algunos otros.

Pero antes de que el traje de luces sea opacado por las manchas de víscera escarlata,
el sol, renovador de amaneceres, engreído de su orgullosa pompa

será uno con la lidia fluyendo por sus venas.


1st poem


Poem 2




 From Jack Little´s Elsewhere (20/20 EYEWEAR PAMPLET SERIES, 2015)


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jack Little is a British poet who has lived in Mexico City since 2010 where he works as a primary school teacher. He won the Titchfield Shakespeare Poetry Competition in 2013 and is the founding editor of The Ofi Press. His work has been widely published in the UK and in Mexico.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


painting by Kreso Cavlovic

Graphic novel, translation

Neighborhood Rumors

by Gabriel Canul

01-Oh, poor little girl. Her story was such a terribly sad case.

You will see….


 The father was, well, a washed-up madman. For this he had such a lugubrious fame…

… that the ignorant minds of this neighborhood all but blamed him.

I don’t want to sound presumptuous but a man of my lineage cannot allow space for this kind of nonsense.


 He was a pathetic alcoholic, that you see sir, had banished his wife from his side.

As if the mother would be worth only a little or even nothing. She abandoned her little daughter with that bastard of a father.


Ha, ha, ha. Even though swine did end up paying a heavy price…

They say that the daughter hardened and found a way to defend herself against her father.


Not of course that I would contribute to this superstitious verbal diarrhea of the riffraff. As you know sir, I do not spread irresponsible hot air, even a few days before any of this happened, I saw the wretch walking by with a very terrible wound on his left arm. My head played with the idea that it could have been a bite.


Even though now, I reason that this kid could not possibly concur with this idea, in size nor strength.

Some type of gangrene had gotten hold of this fellow because the wound had festered and hurt him like the devil. Of course, it has to be said that he wasn’t known to be especially neat and tidy.


Who would have said however that this nobody of a man would have such a terrible end?


They say that the little sweet girl, defenseless and all, could not escape the evilness of her father and remained nothing more than a pestilent stain beneath the bed.


It was inexplicable the manner in which they found this man’s bed.

A huge fit or rage had led the poor creature to undergo a mighty change.


 This must explain what happened.


They say that she was laughing

The smile on her face…

And her words…

I leave them behind, I have left them!


Surely they talked, the other remaining mortals, of her father.

And yes, all of this seems implausible, yet wait until you hear the tale that this leprous pleb has invented.

Only as a sign of my respect, well, all that it merits without taking into account its insignificance, I was able to attend the funeral parlor to see what remained of the heartless swine and this is how I was able to hear the end of the story.


They say that the little girl with the sweet appearance…

…hid within her the unknown capacity, like the circus freaks that can bend spoons with their eyes…

…or move crystal vases from one place to another with a certain gesture.

And with these cunning tricks she could escape the plague that was her father.

And with that which she had obtained, she conjured certain enigmatic powers.


 I am going to confess to you that there has been nights of insomnia when I have heard things…

Guttural noises and rhythmic moans which undoubtedly were made by the girl.


Finally, we hope that with the disappearance of that pariah and the absence of the unfortunate girl…

…this neighborhood has won something akin to peace, to say the least. And now I must leave because, how it is to wait…

… in a ruined old place like this one…

… which has been built with the most rotten and decayed materials and now…


I see the denigrating necessity of renovating my elegant bedroom.

It will be better to start work in good time…

Before the darkness…

invades all.


Now I must bid you farewell…

I hope to have the pleasure of another talk with you tomorrow.

A special thank you goes to both Axel Flores for entering the Spanish text into the images and to Jack Little for providing the translation. 

Born and raised in Mérida Yucatán, Mexico, Gabriel Canul Olivares is a natural artist. Painter, draftsman, and self-taught writer, his foray into comics was inevitable.

His love of comics began when he was very young.

His desire, was not only to read them, but to create them – which he does with “Comunidad de Dibujantes del Sureste”, a group of independent artists, where he is a drawing instructor, and one of the leaders.

Poetry, translation

First Dream (The Beginning) and other poems

by Feliciano Sánchez Chan

(translated from spanish to english by Jonathan Harrington)


First Dream (The Beginning)

I am the Sacred Ceiba Tree (the Kapok)
from which your children will dangle like fruit,
if you claim them
before their seeds ripen.


I am the vertebra that unites
the thirteen canopies of heaven
and the nine levels of the underworld
where the spirits travel.


I am the breasts of your daughter,
where the old man nurses,
his long gray hair spilling over
the four directions of the universe,
as he walks nude
through the heavens
by your tears.


You entrust to me
the lives of your children,
on my trunk you see
their footprints.
I am the Ceiba,
I am the Sacred One.


Yáax Wayak’ (U káajbal)Teen le kili’ich X-ya’ache’
tu’ux ku ch’uytal a paalal
wa ka bisiko’ob ta wiknal
ma’ayli’ k’anak
u yi’ijo’obo’o in Na’.Teen a baakel nupik
óoxlajun u yáalal ka’an
yéetel bolon u yáalal metnal
tu’ux ku xíimbal pixano’ob.

Teen u yiim a x-lóo’bayan aal
tu’ux ku chu’uch le nuxib
ku jayik u sakil u pool
tu kanti’itsil yóok’ol kaab,
yéetel ku xíimbal chaknuul
ta ka’anil tia’al ka’ a búukint
yéetel u ja’il a wicho’ob.

Ti’ teen a k’ubeetmaj
u kuxtal a paalal in Na’,
ti’ yaan u pe’echak’o’ob tin nak’e’,
teen X-ya’axche’,
teen Kili’ich X-ya’axche’.


Sueño Primero (El origen)Soy la Ceiba Sagrada
donde penden tus hijos
si los reclamas a ti
antes que sus granos sazonen.Soy la vértebra que une
las trece capas del cielo
y los nueve niveles del inframundo
donde transitan los espíritus.

Soy los senos de tu hija,
donde amamanta el anciano
que dispersa sus canas
en los cuatro rumbos del universo,
y camina desnudo
por tus cielos
para que lo arropes
con tus lágrimas.

A mí encomendaste
la vida de tus hijos,
en mi tronco se ven
la marca de sus pies.
Soy la Ceiba,
soy la Ceiba Sagrada.



Second Dream (The Word)

I am the conch
my voice born of the sea
that speaks through your children,


My singing travels throughout the world
opening new trails.
I have penetrated the labyrinths of caves
so that the old gods
write on my lips
the word that the dove
spills out over the world
on moonlit mornings.


I am the first voice that gathers together the echoes
planted yesterday along antique roads.
I am the ancient word that is only spoken
after midnight
if your son does not return from the jungle.


I am the conch of long past echoes
that you have recorded with your voice,
I am the conch.


Ka’a Wayak’ (T’aan)Teen le jub
siijil u t’aan ich k’áa’náab
kin t’aan tu yóo’lal a paalalo’
in Na’.In k’aaye’ ku jolch’aktik
u beel wíiniko’ob yóok’ol kaab.
Ts’o’ok in xíimbaltik u satunsat bejilo’ob áaktun
tia’al ka ts’íibta’ak tin chi’
tumeen in úuchben Yumtsilo’ob,
u nikte’il le t’aan
ku jayik sakpakal
yóok’ol kaab
tu ja’atskab k’iinilo’ob Ujo’.

Teen le yáax t’aan
molik le éets’nak’o’ob
ta pak’aj jo’olje
te’ej úuchben bejo’obo’,
teen le úuchben t’aan
chen ku ya’ala’al
wa ku máan chúumuk áak’ab
ma’ suunak a paal k’áaxo’o.

Teen le jub úuchben u éets’nak’
tu’ux a ts’íibtmaj a t’aano’
in Na’.
Teen le jubo’.


Sueño Segundo (La Palabra)Soy el caracol
con voz nacida del mar
que habla por tus hijos
Madre.Mi canto recorre el mundo
trazando caminos.
He penetrado en el laberinto de las grutas
para que los dioses antiguos
escriban en mis labios
la palabra que la torcaza
derrama en el mundo
en mañanas de lunas.
Soy la voz primera que recoge los ecos
que ayer sembraste en viejos caminos.
Soy la palabra antigua que sólo se dice
pasada la media noche
si tu hijo no retorna del monte.

Soy el caracol de ecos antiguos
que has grabado con tu voz,
Soy el caracol.



Third Dream (Life)

I have come from the underworld, Xibalba,
to visit
your shrine, Mother.
I am the anointed gust of wind
that springs from your womb
which lives and dies here
day by day
over the face of the earth.


You gave me, Mother,
the icon of a deer of royal lineage.
That is why I fly over your face
so I will not wound you
with my footsteps.
For an eye you gave me
a precious gem.


I am born of your womb of corn
from which you feed
my children.
The gust with which you overwhelm
my nostrils
flew away like a
nocturnal hummingbird.
In this way I am born and I die
every day.
I find myself linked
to your eternal shadow.
I am from corn, your child of corn,
corn is my flesh, corn you are Mother.




Yóoxp’éel Wayak’ (Kuxtal)Taaliken tak Xibalba
tia’al in xíimbat
a Ka’anche’il in Na’,
teen u yiik’al le kuxtal
yaan ta jobnelo’,
le ku síijil yéetel ku kíimil
sáansamal yóok’ol kaabo’.Juntúul Siipil Kéej
ta ts’áajten in jo’olintej
leti’ beetik xik’nal
kin beetik ta wóok’ol
tia’al ma’ in xek’ik a wich
yéetel in pe’echak’.
Jump’éel Ya’ax Tun
ta ts’áaj tin wich.

Sijnalen ta j-ixi’im jobnel
ba’ax yéetel ka tséentik
in paalal.
Le kuxtal ta wustaj
tu jool in ni’o’
J-áak’ab Ts’unu’unchaje’
ka’aj líik’ u xik’nal.
Beytuuno’, kin síijil
yéetel kin kíimil sáansamal,
tumeen taabalen
yéetel u piktunil a woochel.
j-ixi’imilen, a j-ixi’im paalen
ixi’im in bak’el, ixi’imilech in Na’

Sueño Tercero (La vida)He venido desde Xibalbá
a visitar
tu santuario Madre,
soy el soplo
ungido en tu vientre,
aquel que nace y muere
día con día
sobre la faz de la tierra.
Un venado de estirpe real
me diste por signo,
por eso vuelo
sobre tu rostro
para no herirte
con mis pisadas.
Por ojo me diste
una piedra preciosa.Soy nacido de tu vientre maíz
con el que alimentas
a mis hijos.
El soplo con que inundaste
mi nariz
erigió su vuelo
de Colibrí Nocturno.
Así nazco y muero
todos los días,
pues me hallo ligado
a tu eterna sombra.
Soy de maíz, tu hijo maíz,
maíz es mi carne, maíz eres Madre.




Fourth Dream (The Light)


I am the thunder that has come
with its light
of eternal profundities
to illuminate the Sak Be, the White Road
where your children travel, Mother.


I am the bolt that invented light
to announce to mankind
the fall
of your tears of corn,
the Sacred Grain that sustains my brothers and sisters.


Lord Fire
is my older brother.
Today I have come
with my four sisters:
the Rain from the East,
the Rain from the West,
the Rain from the North,
the Rain from the South.


I am, Mother,
the most willing of your sons,
I walk the world
without leaving footprints
only lives reflect my presence
from day to day
only my memories remain
and the hope
for what still needs to be done.
I am the Light, I am the Light,
I am the Light.




Kamp’éel Wayak’ (Sáasil)Teen le kíilbal taalen
yéetel u piktun
taamil in sáasil
tia’al in jop u sak bejil
tu’ux ku xíimbal a paalalo’
in Na’.Teen le kíilbal ta sutaj sáasilil
tia’al in k’a’ayt ti’ wíinik
u yéembal
u ixi’im ja’il a wicho’,
u sujuy i’ijil
a tséentik in láak’o’ob.

In Noj Suku’un
Yum K’áak’.
Bejla’e taalen
yéetel kantúul in kiiko’ob:
u Cháakil lak’in,
u Cháakil chik’in,
u Cháakil xaman
yéetel u Cháakil noojol.

Teen in Na’,
u jach péeka’anil a paalal,
ma’atech u chíikpajal
in pe’ech’ak’ yóok’ol kaab,
chen kuxtalo’ob
éets’nak’tik in chíikul,
ikil u máan k’iino’obe’
chen kin k’a’ajsa’al
yéetel bajun ba’al
u bin u ts’o’okbesa’al.
Teen sáasil, teen sáasil,
teen sáasil.


Sueño Cuarto (La Luz)Soy el trueno que ha venido
con su luz
de eternas profundidades
para alumbrar el Camino Blanco
por donde transitan tus hijos, Madre.Soy el relámpago que hiciste luz
para anunciar a los hombres
el descenso
de tus lágrimas-maíz,
Grano Sagrado con que sustentas a mis hermanos.

El Señor Fuego
es mi hermano Mayor.
Hoy he venido
con mis cuatro hermanas:
la Lluvia del oriente,
la Lluvia del poniente,
la Lluvia del norte
y la Lluvia del sur.
Soy Madre,
el más presto de tus hijos,
yo camino el mundo
sin dejar huellas,
sólo las vidas
reflejan mi presencia.
De un día a otro
sólo quedan mis recuerdos
y la esperanza
de lo que falta por hacer.
Soy la luz, soy la luz,
soy la luz.



Fifth Dream (The Spirit)


I have flown
so many times
I am a reflection of your own flight,
You taught me
to breathe life
into everything that lives
in this world.


I am the spirit of your son
that nurses
from the Mother Ceiba.


Beyond the clouds
I have traced a rainbow.


You have told me,
that accompanied by the hummingbird
I can lead to you
those who have lost their lives.


You intentionally made me ageless
so that I might be reborn day by day
with the Father Sun,
I am your spirit,
I am the spirit that gives off light
I am your gleaming spirit




Jo’op’éel Wayak’ (Pixan)Ts’o’ok in xik’nal
piktun u téenel
ch’uyukbalen ta xik’nal xan
in Na’.
Teech ta ka’ansen
in ts’áa u kuxtal
tuláakal ba’ax kuxa’an
wey yóok’ol kaabe’.Teen u pixan a waal
ch’uyukbal tu k’ab
ki’ichpan X-ya’axche’.
To tu paach le múuyalo’
Ts’o’ok in bonik jump’éel chéeli’.

Teche’ ta wa’alajtene’ in Na’
wa ku láak’intiken Ts’unu’une’
uchak in bisik ta wiknal
le máaxo’ob ku kíimilo’.

A wóolili’ ma’ ta ts’áaj in ja’abile’e
tia’al in síijil sáansamal
yéetel Yum K’iin,
teen a pixan,
teen le yaan in sáasilo’,
teen a sáask’ale’en pixan
in Na’.

Sueño Quinto (El espíritu)He volado
tantas veces
prendido en tu propio vuelo,
Tú me enseñaste
a soplarle vida
a todo lo vivo
en este mundo.Soy el espíritu de tu hijo
que amamanta
en la Madre Ceiba.

Más allá de las nubes
he trazado un arco iris.

Tú me has dicho,
que acompañado del Colibrí
puedo conducir a ti
a los que dejan de vivir.

A propósito no me diste edad
para renacer día a día
con el Padre Sol,
soy tu espíritu,
soy el espíritu que emana luz,
soy tu espíritu resplandeciente,



Sixth Dream (The Otherness)


I am the hummingbird
that sketches a rainbow in the sky
with the splendor of its flight.


I am your image embroidered
on the Rain,
child of your mirror
seven times transparent
where you do not find me
when you want to
and you see me
when you don’t want to find me.


I am the Sun of autumn
that hurts the eyes
of the white cloud—your daughter—
so that she will cry rain.


Drink, Mother, from my sap,
I will eat your precious grain
so that in me
your son will be engendered.
You will know tomorrow
that the road I choose
is only one step
so that the dream that I create
will bring us
to the place of origin
where you will be my flesh
and I will sustain you.




Wakp’éel Wayak’ (U yaanal)Teen le Ts’unu’un
bonik chéelo’ob te’ej ka’an
yéetel u léembal u xik’nalo’.Teen a woochel chuya’an
te’ej Cháako’,
u yaal a néenil
uktéen sáask’ale’en
tu’ux ma’atan a wiliken
wa a k’áat a wilen,
tu’ux ka wiliken
wa ma’ a k’áat a wileni’.

Teen u Yum K’iinil yáaxk’in
xek’ik u yich
sak nookoy -a x-ch’upul aal-
tia’al u yok’oltik ixi’im.

Uk’ in k’aab in Na’
tene’ bíin in jaant a wi’ij
tia’al u síijilten
a waal.
Teche’ bíin a wojéelt sáamal
le bej kin bisika’
chen u xíimbalil
tia’al k-ts’o’okbesik
le wayak’ kin kalaantika’,
yéetel ka’ u biso’on tu’ux
bíin in bak’eltech
yéetel bíin in tséentech.

Sueño Sexto (La otredad)Soy el colibrí
que traza arco iris en el cielo
con el resplandor de su vuelo.Soy tu imagen bordado
en la Lluvia,
hijo de tu espejo
siete veces transparente
donde no me hallas
cuando quieres mirarme,
y me miras
cuando no quieres hallarme.

Soy el Sol de otoño
que hiere los ojos
de la nube blanca –tu hija–
para que llore maíz.

Bebe Madre de mi sabia,
yo comeré tu grano precioso
para que en mí se engendre
tu hijo.
Tú sabrás mañana
que el camino que elijo
es sólo un paso
para que el sueño que prolijo
nos lleve
al sitio de origen
donde tú seas mi carne
y yo tu sustento.



Seventh Dream (The Other Dead)


There are already many, Mother,
already many.
They hang from my branches
at the point of spilling
beneath my shadows
like filth.


You never told me
that the dreams you cultivated
over so much limestone
would become today the suffering
over which I cry.


I am the Sacred Ceiba,
The other hands
plant in my entrails
a woman of the night,
a bad woman
who carries off men who cannot sleep.


In this way I know your sons
and those that suckle
abundant milk
from the breasts of your daughters,
they are not my dead,
I do not take them
Aj Puch, ni Ixtab,
other dead that I do not know
sang in my ears.
They are not my death, Mother,
They are not my death.




Ukp’éel Wayak’ (Yaanal kíimilo’ob)Ts’o’ok u máan p’iis in Na,
Ts’o’ok u máan p’iis.
Ch’úuyench’uuyo’ob tin k’ab,
ta’aytak u lúubsikeno’ob,
yéetel jayakbalo’ob tin wáanal
bey ba’al ku pe’ekekaabe’.Teche’ mix juntéen ta wa’alajten
wa le wayak’o’ob ta pak’aj
tu yóok’ol le seen cháaltuno’
bíin súutko’ob muk’yajil
tia’al ok’ol tin wóok’ol.

Teen X-ya’axche’, in Na’.
Bini’it k’abo’ob
tu pak’o’ob tin jobnel
juntúul x-áak’ab ko’olel,
juntúul x-káakbach
bisik le wíiniko’ob
ku máano’ob ich áak’abo’.

Tene’ in k’aj óol a paalal in Na’
ba’ale’ le ku seen chu’uchiko’ob
u k’aab yiim
a x-ch’upul aalo’,
ma’ in kimeno’obi’,
ma’ Aj Puch’, mix Ixtab
taasik u k’ubo’obi’.
Tu xikino’obe’
k’aaynaj jump’éel kíimil
ma’ in k’aj óoli’.
Ma’ in kimeno’obi’, in Na’.

Sueño Séptimo (Las otras muertes)Ya son tantas Madre,
ya son tantas.
De mis ramas cuelgan
a punto de derribarme,
bajo mi sombra están
como inmundicias.Tú nunca me dijiste
que los sueños que cultivaste
sobre tanta piedra caliza
serían hoy las penas
que sobre mí lloran.

Soy la Ceiba Sagrada,
Las otras manos
sembraron en mis entrañas
una mujer de noche,
una mujer mala
que se lleva a los trasnochados.

Aun así conozco a tus hijos
y estos que maman
leche abundante
en los pechos de tus hijas,
no son mis muertes,
no me las conduce
Aj Puch, ni Ixtab,
otras muertes que no conozco
cantaron en sus oídos,
no son mis muertes, Madre.
No son mis muertes.




Feliciano Sánchez Chan was born in the village of Xaya, Tekax, Yucatan, Mexico, in 1960. His work Retazos de Vida (Slices of life) won the Itzamna Prize for literature in the Mayan language. “Seven Dreams” are from his book Ukp’eel wayak / Siete Sueños. He works as a promoter of culture in the Department of Popular Culture of the state of Yucatan.


Jonathan Harrington has published translations from Mayan and Spanish in World Literature Today, Visions International, The Dirty Goat, and other magazines. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has published nine books in English, including novels, poetry, short stories, and essays. His translations of two poems by Maya poet Briceida Cuevas Cob appeared in the January 2010 issue of World Literature Today. Jonathan lives on the Hacienda San Antonio Xpakay in Yucatan, Mexico.


photo by Dan Griffin

Poetry, translation

La Doncella

by Nancy Ann Schaefer


It is known that the Incas who conquered the indigenous tribes of the Andes chose the sons and daughters of local rulers and particularly attractive children for sacrifice.

—Mark Henderson


She sleeps, this woman-child

fifteen growing seasons tall

clothed in finest fabric

intricate woven patterns

plaited belt, striped slippers

signal chosen status, perfect


La Doncella, sweet Doncella

without blemish, this woman-child

unaltered and unaged; falling past

round shoulders, hair the color

of coca seeds before fruity bloom,

carefully braided, perfect


Seated cross-legged, her moon

face tilts forward, chin

resting softly on still chest

like a hummingbird tucked

under its downy wing,

she sleeps the deep sleep

of youth, perfect


Year-long preparation

ceremonial food to fatten,

sumptuous charki, maize and chicha

then pilgrimage from capital Cuzco

arduous ascent up Llullaillaco

volcanic home of Incan gods

did she know that she was perfect?


Entombed as frozen sacrifice

timeless and unmoving

she sleeps the deep sleep

of death, this woman-child

this Andes maid at summit shrine

this gift to sky gods, perfect

She haunts my dreams, her spectral

voice tinkles like hand-bells

at high mass, hanging in rarefied air;

once cradled in the crook of loving

arms, beheld in birthing bed—exquisite

her mother knew that she was perfect


Did she join silent ancestors

keeping watch

insuring crops

from mountaintop altar

like an angel, perfect?




La doncella

Versión al español: Fer de la Cruz


Se sabe que los incas, conquistadores de las tribus de los Andes, elegían a los hijos e hijas de gobernantes locales —particularmente a niños atractivos— para su sacrificio.

—Mark Henderson

Esta mujer, eterna niña, duerme,

a sus quince estaciones de estatura,

de finísimas telas ataviada

—intricados motivos,

el cinturón trenzado, las sandalias a rayas—

en señal del estatus elegido: perfecto.


Doncella, dulce doncella

sin mancha, mujer niña,

intacta y sin edad, ayer caído

en curvatura de hombros y cabellos

de semilla de coca aún sin germinar,

acicalado en trenzas y perfecto.


Aun cruzada de piernas,

con su cara de luna hacia adelante,

barbilla que reposa sobre el pecho

—recuerda un picaflor acurrucado

en su propio plumaje de alborada—

duerme en sueño profundo

siempre joven, perfecta.


Tras la preparación, un año entero

—maíz ceremonial para la engorda,

suntuoso charqui, cántaros de chicha—,

tras el peregrinaje desde Cuzco,

tras el tortuoso ascenso al Llullaillaco

—hogar de dioses incas—,

¿se sabría perfecta?


En sacrificio helado sepultada

atemporal, inmóvil,

duerme el sueño profundo de la muerte

esta mujer, aun niña, esta doncella

de los Andes, altísimo santuario,

a los dioses del cielo, esta ofrenda perfecta.





Merodea mis sueños y su voz espectral,

como la campanilla de la misa,

pulula sobre el aire enrarecido.

Alguna vez habrá sido arrullada

en amorosos brazos y en su cuna exquisita

la habrán acariciado los ojos de su madre

quien la sabía perfecta.


¿Habrá podido unirse a la quietud de sus ancestros?

¿Seguirá vigilante

en pos de las cosechas

desde un altar de cúspide

como un ángel perfecto?




Nancy Ann Schaefer lives near the Mississippi river with her husband, dog and three cats. She was a finalist for the Max J. Molleston Award and her poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in a number of anthologies and journals, including Off Channel, The Rockford Review, Numinous, Outloud IV, Struggle, and Women’s Voices Journal. Her first chapbook, “In Search of Lode” (918studio) is due out in September. “La Doncella” (in English) first appeared in Off Channel (2011).


Poetry, translation

Tulum and other poems

by Fer de la Cruz



To write, I heard you need

to find an ideal spot.

A beach in the Caribbean

will invoke all the muses who´ll descend

from deepest and most joyous blue skies,

or they´ll appear by swimming and as nude

among the foam of turquoise,

so I heard.


Then you will grab your pen

and poetry will flow,

one verse per wave,

one word per grain of sand upon your skin,

a master metaphor for every leaf

of palm tree shaken by the breeze.


It doesn´t work for me.

Attempts shattered, scarred on rocks,

ideas blown asunder,

my thoughts snarled in sargazo weed.

The ocean nearly drowned me.

All these muses

don´t even look at me.

All I´m getting is sunburn

and sand scratching my crotch.


Another Scotch, garçon!

before I dissolve into prose.




Breakfast at Xpakay


To Jonathan Harrington


“Time for a healthy breakfast”, as they say,

starting with café, bacon, galletas,

the songs of birds by the hundreds—

one chachalaca yelling from a treetop:

“Keep-it-up, keep-it-up, keep-it-up!”

as the chorus replies:

“Cut-it-out, cut-it-out, cut-it-out!” *

The chuck-will´s-widow singing:



Of course the conversation about birds

is part of breakfast at Xpakay

with the smell of firewood

and chicken al carbón, Harrington style

as the breeze rakes the trees.


“And then we´re reading poetry?—You say—

at 9:30 in the morning?

That´s not normal. What´s wrong with you two poets?”

—You keep babbling and babbling

worst than a chachalaca

as you open your second can of beer.


* Dr. A. A. Allen´s description of the Plain Chcachalaca´s “chicken like crackle”, as quoted by Roger Terry Peterson and Edward L. Chalif in “Mexican Birds” (The Easton Press, 1984), found in Jonathan Harrington´s personal library at Hacienda Xpakay, any given morning in rural Yucatán, México.



They Might Think that I Am an Angel

English translation by Jonathan Harrington


God gave me an editing job.

Between dreams I would mark the errors,

all the way from a primordial Alpha

to an impending Omega still under construction.

I saw the universe in rough draft.

There was very little love in long paragraphs of human history.

The most serious errors were ones of conscience

but those were left uncorrected—

well, it was not my job.

Human acts, like it or not,

are indelible.


Today an angel revealed to me

that my check was not yet ready;

it had to be approved by Saint Peter,

who willed to Judas the accounts of heaven

and on the other hand, the pay would be eternal

when Creation is finally finished.

And in the meantime—how do I live?

How do I eat? With what do I pay rent or transportation?

Who will save me later from the Purgatory of the credit bureau?


Now I understand why they say we are made in the image of God.

On Earth, everything is the same. But I´m not lifting my red pen.

I throw into the fire all my corrections.

Let them solve their own problems.


I hope humanity will correct itself

if it believes in a Destiny poorly written in some dead language

with that beginning and end imposed from above,

in the endless spiral of time

where no one is in the least interested

if I am paid or not.




Creerán que soy un ángel


Le hice a Dios un trabajo de corrección de estilo.

Entre sueños señalé las erratas

del Alfa milenaria al ya cercano Omega aún en construcción.

Vi el Universo, hecho a la carrera.

Había muy poco amor en largos párrafos del devenir humano.

Los errores más graves eran los de conciencia

pero estos los dejé sin señalar

pues no era mi función; total

los actos, quiéralo o no, son indelebles.


Hoy me revela un ángel

que mi cheque no va a salir aún:

debe ser aprobado por San Pedro,

quien heredó de Judas las cuentas celestiales,

y que en cambio, mi paga será eterna

cuando haya concluido la Creación.

¿Y mientras de qué vivo,

qué como, con qué pago la renta y el transporte…?

¿Quién me redime luego del purgatorio de un buró de crédito?


Ahora entiendo por qué dicen que somos

a imagen y semejanza del Creador.

En la Tierra es igual. Pero ya no muevo un dedo.

Eché al fuego el trabajo corregido

y que vean cómo le hacen.


La Humanidad que se corrija sola

si cree en un Destino

malescrito en algún idioma muerto

con principio y final impuestos desde lo alto,

en la espiral eterna de los tiempos

en donde no interesa en lo más mínimo

si me pagan o no.




Fernando de la Cruz Herrera (Yucatán, México, 1971) holds an MA in Spanish from Ohio University and a BA in Philosophy. As an independent editor, writer, and cultural promoter, he has participated in cultural festivals, conferences, and book fairs in Mexico, Cuba, France, and the United States. His poems appeared in the books “Redentora la voz” (Ayuntamiento de Mérida, 2010), “Aliteletras. De la a a la que quieras” (Dante, 2011), “Sabotaje a la che y otros poemas de martirologio” (Secretaría de la Cultura y las Artes de Yucatán, in print) and in the chapbook “Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies” (JKPublishing, 2008). He has received two national, two regional, and one state-wide poetry awards in Mexico. His main passions are poetry (which he often finds in theatre, music, film…), language teaching made fun, and the constant discovery of the flavors, shapes, and depths of human life / delacrux@hotmail.com.


Poetry, translation

My Locked Father and other poems

by Boris Domagoj Biletić


(Moj zaključani otac)

I dropped a flower on my father’s trembling soul
He sleeps in the scents, in the colours of his homescape

Father, I am a town after the quake, a town that germinates
Father, I am the quake returning to the bowels of the land
Your home and distant mother’s, herself torn
From our embrace at her last wish

The stagnant water of the previous mourner awaited me
Cha-saying place of my childhood empty, Oliver,
No one to know me in the shallow hurry to the grave

But you, man, you are locked, closed, you went wordless
The other side of the mystery, the riddle, with no lies at last

And what can I do now – lament of the living
A wretched picture of your and her condition
Already stooped I take refuge in the hope that you’re at one
Safekeeping a tribe with no strength, with no Sign

From eternity my father takes the flower, takes the bunch
For himself, for her, for us still living, quivery, faded

From space glow continents, planets, galaxies
Of quenched cities that survivors build, nameless
Across the sea, across the world our sleepers live
Live beyond the ocean – while the word’s a raft, boat, ship

Below us sunk in the earthquake cities pulsing
Warm places the keys to which God himself has not.

(trad. Graham McMaster, “The Bridge”, Zagreb, 2004.) 




(Pusto Kvarnersko more)

The dust has settled on her eyelashes
The backdrop of my story veils a view of serenity
The whole bulk cargo of a ludicrous life
Adumbrations of my life scattered on the rocks

The ancient habitat rings with children’s voices
In defiant departure for the night, Like a vow to the sea,
Groans the void of setting day, groans the inside in the bodies
All the essential clashes in just a single time

This one here that we have while the salt,
And empty Kvarner Sea drips down flickering fingers, the Sea
Climbs in powder to the walls of the church girt
With whiteness like resting place of Mexican freedom fighters

Whom in the morning without a word will shoot an uncalled
Someone in a foreign land in alien tongue, Alien
In itself and empty and wipes the face with the last bullet
That which equates spaces and destinies

Wrapping all in the dust of oblivion, In the dust
And ash that remains on one, On my hair
Of her eyelashes turned to the colours of the night
Of Kvarner awakened with the flame that vanishes
Like our bodies in the dead-icy, waxen water

(trad. Graham McMaster, “The Bridge”, Zagreb, 2004.)



(Kurvinski svetokrug)

I awake when everything is way beyond repair
Smashed anguished disjointed so virile
The street does not drone when I pull out the ear plugs
Take off the black mask from the eyes, the gasmask too

Thus now the world is entered with an aura, sense of smell
The world of sirocco&bora of love habits obligations and politics
Theirs, that with a thoroughgoing silence and snigger
Treats me like small naive and useful little animal

Groping I patter the predictable geography
Of the flat that belongs to me like tight knickers, nines,
In which I preposterously parade, a few sizes
Fatter, and whorishly revel in the impotence of a downfall

A weakling by calling trade occupation and upbringing
I cultivate the junkheap below the midriff hypocritically despising
The polit-avant-garde of new prose new verse of the aggressive
But their media holy circle is at least defined

By jargon swearword soul-felt contempt for the reader
While he in knickers on the summer balcony over
No one’s garden that can hurl properly at anyone
Apart from self in cell phone and gleaming outlook express

A linguistic purist nicely in the evening evacuates
The hygienist too evacuates and wipes his own like someone else’s
Verse thought act and oversight and leaning on his elbows
Stopping up again all sensory orifices squats too long

Wordless (that alone can canonise the classical repentance)
Squats in the night in the short summer Adriatic like a polar night

(trad. Graham McMaster, “The Bridge”, Zagreb, 2004.)




Boris Domagoj Biletić was born in Pula on 22nd March, 1957. Having finished the Grammar School and the Teacher Training College in his home-town, he graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, where he received M.A. and doctor’s degree. Today he lives in Rovinj where heads the City Library of Matija Vlačić Ilirik (lat. Matthias Flacius Illyricus). Since the second half of the 1970s (more serious beginning in the Pula Literary Club, whose publication was soon banned, and in the journal Istarski borac / Ibor), his poetry, reviews, essays, studies and translations from Italian and German have appeared in the Croatian and foreign publications. His poetry has also been read in the Treći program Hrvatskog Radija / the Third Programme of the Croatian Radio – Poezija naglas. Together with the two painters, Zdravko Milić (Mala lirska kronika, 1989) and Bruno Mascarelli (Istarski rukopisi – Caligrafie istriane, 1998), a co-author of the two graphic-and-poetic maps. Included in a couple of the Croatian and foreign anthologies of the Croatian poetry, i.e. those prepared by Mirjana Strčić (Hrvatsko pjesništvo Istre 19. i 20. stoljeća – Istarska pjesmarica, Pula 1989), Ante Stamać – Ivo Sanader (U ovom strašnom času, Split, 1992; Zagreb, 1994), Łucja Danielewska (Żywe źradla, Warsaw / Poland, 1996), Josip Bratulić – Stjepan Damjanović – Vinko Brešić – Božidar Petrač… (Mila si nam ti jedina…, Zagreb, 1998), Božidar Petrač (Hrvatska uskrsna lirika: od Kranjčevića do danas, Zagreb, 2001), as well as in literary lexicons, surveys, etc… Mentioned in historical overviewsHrvatska književnost 19. i 20. stoljeća by Miroslav Šicel (Zagreb, 1997) and Povijest hrvatske književnosti by Dubravko Jelčić (Zagreb, 2004). Some poems or cycles translated into about fifteen languages. Also known as an editor of numerous publications, mostly in the field of fiction. Until 1990, a member of the editorial board of the cultural journal Istra (Pula), the edition Istra kroz stoljeća; an active member of the Čakavski sabor. Initiator and editor-in-chief of the Pula literary, cultural and social journal (since its beginning in 1996) – Nova Istra(www.eurozine.com ; http://www.gradpula.com/nova_istra ; http://www.dhk.hr ). Member of the Association of Croatian Writers (since 1988) and its management team (three terms of reference), the Croatian P.E.N. Centre (since 1993) and member-employee of the Central Croatian Cultural and Publishing Society / Matica hrvatska (since 1990). One of the founders of the Istrian branch of the Croatian Writers’ Association (whose first president he was from 1990 to 1993), the Croatian Cultural Society of Franjo Glavinić from Rovinj as well as one of the initiators of the Days of Šoljan / Šoljanovi dani held in Rovinj. In 1997, a guest-writer within the international Zagreb Slavic School. Established the international literary meeting “Pula Essay Days” (Pulski dani eseja) in 2003. Participated in a wide range of international and Croatian poetry festivals, as well as literary meetings. Holder of the following literary awards: Mlada Struga (Struga Evenings of Poetry, Macedonia, 1984; Zublja šutnje), Tin Ujević (1997; Radovi na nekropoli), the award given by the Austrian foundation “KulturKontakt” (2002; Bartuljska jabuka), Julije Benešić (2008; Pristrani čitatelj, I-II); Sv. Kvirin (2012.; for his poetry). Due to his literary and cultural activities, Boris Biletić was also given the Order of Danica Hrvatska with the Effigy of Marko Marulić (1996) and the Medal of the City of Rovinj (1997), as well.


Poetry, translation

Eleven Thousand Meters above the Great Plains and other poems

by Tomica Bajsić

Eleven Thousand Meters above the Great Plains

Excerpt from “Antarctic,” in Poems of Light and Shadow

On the airplane Miss Love sits next to the window so that she can watch
the clouds, white clouds, dense and soft like spun sugar
those foamy clouds that are good only for walking
in a sleeveless T-shirt. Late in the afternoon
(the hour when her hair receives that golden hue)
the sun tends to beat hard up there
at those heights.
There is a man sitting next to her
Suspiciously observing her hands
Full of scratches and bruises.

Miss Love sits on the plane with her knees pressed tightly against each other
clutching a macrobiotic dinner in her lap while the items
she purchased nestle under her legs. There is a teddy bear-shaped rucksack
on her back where she keeps her wedding dress and the urn
with the ashes of her late husband, the well known singer
whose name she forgot.

He’s been sitting there in that teddy-bear-shaped knapsack for quite some time now
Miss had burried a handful of his ashes
under the willow tree in her garden while she mixed the other two with clay
and made tiny saucers, and a handful of it was unfortunately
inadvertently blown away:

ending up in the ventilation system shaft.
As for the rest: Miss Love always carries it with herself on her journeys
keeping it close to her heart – like a talisman.


The Cunning Barber

I went for a haircut in Santa Teresa
To a barber to whom I’d not yet been
Before I sat in the chair
I said to him looking straight into his eyes:
I don’t want one of those modern hairstyles.
No way,
Said he in a hurt voice, I would never,
I cut hair in the good old way.

While he was cutting my hair it seemed fine —
I looked at myself in the mirror
And it seemed to me that I saw Simon
Turning a bend
Up in the rocky peaks,
Riding into death
(El Liberador)
Wrapped in a blanket, incited by fever.
He has dropped to forty five kilos
But still does not give up.
Behind him seven mules carrying the luggage
With seventy medals of honour,
Next to him ride colonel Wilson and a handful of loyal
Desperadoes, vagabonds and soldiers of fortune;
Above them the eternal snow of the Andes and yellow bells,
And down in the depths were fields in which
A man could drown.

But when I came out I saw that on
The barber shop’s front sign it said:
And really, looking at my reflection in the glass
I realised that the old mule had tricked me,
Which was most upsetting.


Tito Apocrypha

Tito gnaws a pig’s head in the attic
eyeing the street in fear that his parents might catch him
I don’t give a damn / he thinks / I’ll escape on my bicycle

Tito riding a tram in Vienna under cover
wearing his best grey suit thinking:
why should I be any worse than those students?

don’t marry her
marry me

Tito riding over Mt Romanija
followed by old Nazor stumbling through the snow
Vladimir Vladimir / thinks Tito benevolently

Tito waving at the rows of kids from his Mercedes
red bandannas are tied around their necks like nooses / the Sun
will once grow dark / ponders Tito philosophically

Tito is elegant even in death
here are the mourners listed alphabetically:

bears rhinos lions / chess players
cineastes / circus acrobats / clerks
corn seller at work station no 7
Cuban cigar industry / employees of the Institute for the History
of the Working Class Movement / the English Queen
Greenpeace activists / heads of the tenant’s councils
historic figures / hippies / honour students
Ilich Ramirez Sanchez a.k.a. “Carlos” / men with moustaches
officers from firemen’s clubs / opera singers
presidents of fishermen’s societies / pretty women
primary school teachers / punks / reserve policemen
retired warrant officers / Sai Baba
soccer players / tailors

Tito showed up again in a balloon above eastern Africa
pointing his binoculars at a herd of zebras
those devils with stripes / thinks Tito to himself / they are all the same

don’t marry her
marry me

Tito says NO to Stalin and Stalin
responds I don’t care anymore / who gives a fuck
do you know how to calculate?
I have twenty one thousand eight hundred and fifty six of them
ground into the leaves of the Katyn forest / I have three hundred thousand
secretly burried ones
I have ten million of those liquidated in liquidations
I have all of their IDs / the photographs of their children / the letters
filled with unwarranted optimism / their pencils / small change
I’ve got them all neatly placed on file

         from “The Consolation of Chaos” Anthology of contemporary Croatian poetry, 1995 – 2005; from “If We Crash into a Cloud, It Won’t Hurt,” Croatian Poetry 1989 – 2009., translated into English by Damir Šodan




TOMICA BAJSIĆ Born in1968. in Zagreb, Croatia. Poet, prose writer and translator. Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Croatia. Editor for translated poetry in Poezija / Poetry quarterly magazine, Croatia, and founder of Druga priča /Another Story publishing. Worked also in restoration, drawing and design. Board member of Croatian PEN Centre. Translated into many languages. Author of four poetry books and two books of prose. Translator and editor of four international poetry anthologies. Twice awarded with highest national awards for poetry. Published in numerous anthologies and literary journals at home and abroad.


photo by Kristi Harms

Poetry, translation

Silk Road and other poems

by Branko Čegec


Silk Road

i hope i’ll know how to resist, i told myself

early in the morning, still sleepy in my uncomfortable bed.

then i got up, jumped under the shower and started to wash

all kinds of dirt for the whole hour, hour and a half, maybe two.

then i went to meet you, light as a feather and perfumed:

behind us were nights without sleep and weeks of abstinence,

nightmarish cobwebs, sights in the mist: all those

unpleasant stories from our individual lives,

little dramas and happy musicals anchored in between

written in the strict form of text messages:

160 characters with spaces, with which you have to say everything

and not close off any of the possibilities

that once, conversing passionately, we managed to open.

now i stood in front of your door, wordless but sweet smelling,

completely unaware of the idea and the goal, toward which i headed,

confidently, boldly, as if it was my first time.





Free diving


yves sent me a text message:

for three days now some italian girl’s been watching me under water.

i watch her too, down there we’re naked and alone. on the surface

we don’t know each other.

i replied in our everyday slang:

be cool! stay well! after that, according to the next message,

he went under again, because “down there it’s calm and unbelievably beautiful.”

i understood his cry on that other, distant shore.

then i dived into marguerite yourcenar’s oriental stories:

made a trip to china, then kotor, dubrovnik, then i surfaced again

melancholically, even though that’s not in vogue anymore.

i saw several italian, four czech and seven plump hungarian girls.

i saw a sunshade twisting in the rhythm of the body,

i saw a pair of blue, tireless and bottomless eyes too:

i wanted to fight the desire for diving, but i couldn’t

look away, i couldn’t put my sunglasses on,

in general: i couldn’t move from my place in the sand,

in which, calmly and silently, i sank and sank.





The car


ivana says into my receiver: write that i’ve bought a car:

small silver citröen ax. it’s night, i’m speeding

from the airport back into town. mak went to vrsar,

humidity is at around eighty percent, the clouds are getting darker, the leaves

are shivering in the breeze that rose unexpectedly as if

wanting to allow us at least elementary breathing.

ivana is still taking lessons at the paklenica driving school and has a crazy

instructor who drives nuns all over brezovica and samobor,

once he drove them all the way to sarajevo. he has a habit of swearing piously

in his car with the rosary hanging from the rear-view mirror and

drinks only coca-cola at room temperature.

the citröen is ten years old, bought from our friend,

with a relatively rotten right fender and a screwed-up clutch:

that’s what you can tell at first sight. it’s still not raining,

the humidity’s not letting up, neither is the pressure of 1054 hectopascals

i’m checking my e-mail and write no replies because my headache

won’t let me write one meaningful sentence. ivana’s message from

yesterday, which I read only today, begs for understanding:

hey, have you told mak and mi}o that I’ve bought a car,

citröen ax, silver, diesel, it’s so sweet and small.





The landscapes of sexuality and mud


not even a dog could be found on the street:

planes bombarded suburbia, gardens were full of

creeping twitch and dandelion, the remnants of pedagogy,

from which you exited in a skirt that reached your ankles, with freshly waxed calves,

and uttered many sentences about oranges and vladivostok,

about grouper in wine and dust from lake balaton,

about bold push-ups and plateaus of pacific,

or some other ocean, cauliflower, sympathetic sisters and karlovacko beer.

god, what a mess! i repeated always the same sentence to myself, looking

at your knees and funny teeth in baroque arrangement.

rough and gentle at the same time, like in artist’s, philanthropist’s youth,

i descended the ravine of your body, with survival instinct.

man, there’s nothing in the streets.

humidity in the mouth, a raw texas planted in the shotgun’s barrel,

happiness, a sleepy shepherd’s voice over a symbolic paddock.





The Dobrovo inn


first a black and yellow verlauf with numbers appeared on our wrists.

then we drank jug wine and listened to a gipsy band.

their music was roma, their lyrics slovenian.

the stands offered wine and white zaseka on brown bread.

some guy stole our glass without any consideration and disappeared in the crowd.

a lady in a strict waitress’s attire cut us off with contempt:

that’s your problem!

we kept on singing irresistible dalmatian songs: mi}o, roman, kemo and i.

and our styrian friend mitja, who used every intermezzo to sound his refrain:

one pours me a drink, the other offers me food…

the first one’s a waitress, the second a cook…

and now a bosnian one! kemo cried and to everyone’s surprise

his linden’s blooming, everything’s just like last year…

ploughed through the night.

we slept for a couple of hours in a house for tourists and then went out hunting for breakfast.

when after sweeping the terrain, we finally saw an open gostilna,

the waitress in blue borosana sandals shrieked coldly:

nothing before 11! get in line!

it was 9:30 in the shadow of a plump chestnut tree.

four construction workers organized an ad hoc symposium on a difference between schpritzer

and gemischt.

without wine and water and soda, of course, because the gostilna was still closed.

then the lady showed some mercy, because of our good conduct and two tired refrains

and soon we rolled our prosciutto and roughly sliced cheese, carrot leaf,

stuffed olive and one wrinkled chili pepper as garnish.

suddenly silence:

gas! said roman.

gas! said mi}o.

gas, fuck it! said kemo.

gas, really gas, fuck! i added with my nose stuffed from allergy.

sweetish smell cut through the superiorly clean slovenian air.

excuse us, ma’am, we smell gas! our four voices sang.

the woman almost choked from laughter.

have no fear, fellas, we’re just fumigating wasps in the pantry.

at 11:07 the workers in overalls got their goulash and polenta.

three schpritzers and a gemischt.

kemo had a shot of brandy.

mi}o mineral water.

the landscape was tuscan.

the air drilled our lungs.

the monotonous rhythm of a ball of wool unwounded a perfect day.




Translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović




Branko Čegec, poet, essayist and critic, born on June 22, 1957, in Kraljev Vrh. He earned a degree in Yugoslav Studies and Comparative Literature from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb. He was a literature section editor at magazines Polet and Pitanja. From 1985 to 1989 he was the editor in chief of Quorum magazine, from 1989 to 1990 he was the editor in chief of the culture magazine Oko, and from 1990 to 1993 he was an editor for the publishing house Mladost. Čegec founded his own publishing house Meandar in 1992. In 1998 he initiated the foundation of Croatian Independent Publishers Society, economic interest association of small and medium-size presses. In 1999 he was elected president of the Board of Goranovo proljeće, the most important poetry event in Croatia. In 2002 he founded Centar za knjigu (Croatian Book Center) and in 2003 he started the book magazine Tema.

Published works:

-Eros-Europa-Arafat / Eros-Europe-Arafat, poetry (1980),

-Zapadno-istočni spol / West-Eastern Sex, poetry (1983),

-Presvlačenje avangarde / Re-dressing the Avant-garde, essays and critiques (1983),

-Melankolični ljetopis / A Melancholic Chronicle, poetry (1988),

-Ekrani praznine / Screens of Emptiness, poetry (1992, 2003),

-Fantom slobode / The Phantom of Freedom, essays, critiques and articles (1994),

-Strast razlike, tamni zvuk praznine; Hrvatsko pjesništvo osamdesetih i devedesetih / Passion of Difference, Dark Sound of Emptiness, Croatian poetry of the 1980s and 1990s, co-authored with Miroslav Mićanović (1995),

-Nitko ne govori hrvatski, Personne ne parle croate / No one speaks Croatian, bilingual Croatian-French edition, together with Miroslav Mićanović and Ivica Prtenjača, selected and translated by V. Mikšić and B. Radić (2002),

Sintaksa mesečine / Moonlight Syntax, selected poetry, trandlated by J. Hudolin, Ljubljana, (2004),

-Tamno mjesto / A Dark Place, poetry (2005),

-Tri krokodila / Three crocodiles, with Miroslav Mićanović and Senko Karuza (2005),

-Nurkanje na zdiv – Ronjenje na dah – Breat-Hold Diving,selected poems, translated by I. Isakovski, M. Suško and B. Gregorić, Skopje (2010),

-Zapisi iz pustog jezika / Writings from the Waste Language, prose poetry (2011),

-Pokret otpora / Resistance Movement, articles (2011),

-Pun mjesec u Istanbulu / Full Moon in Istanbul, poetry (2012),

-Lune pleine à Istanbul, poetry, translated by M. Kramer and V. Mikšić, Saint-Julien-Molin-Molette (2012)

Shopping terapia, selected poetry, translated by K. Chmel, Bratislava (2012).


photo by Angela M Campbell


informative, Poetry, translation

Rum, Poetry and Cigars: A week in Cuba

by Jonathan Harrington

The moment we touched down I saw the sign—and it was a good one—Jose Martí International Airport. It was the first time I had ever arrived at an airport named for a poet and I was arriving in Havana, Cuba from my home in Yucatán, México as a guest of the 16th International Poetry Festival. The Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba had invited me to present my book, Aquí/Here, a bilingual collection of poems. I was traveling with the Yucatecan poet,  my friend and translator, Fernando de la Cruz, who was also invited to present two of his books: Redentora la voz (Redeeming Voice, 2010) and his book for children, Aliteletras, 2012) an untranslatable word invented by de la Cruz meaning roughly Alliterating Letters).

For the next seven days we swam in an ocean of poetry with over 300 poets from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Korea, Costa Rica, the United States, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Angola, Puerto Rico, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Cuba.

While most of the poets stayed in Havana, Fernando de la Cruz and I were invited by Juan Ramón de la Portilla to go to Pinar del Río (a city two hours west of Havana) where Juan Ramón is the provincial president of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba.  Our hosts from the writers’ union graciously chauffeured us around the beautiful tobacco-growing region of Pinar del Río in a 1970´s Russian-made LADA automobile that had seen better days but was well-maintained.



We read our poetry in cultural centers, rum factories, cigar factories, schools, and sometimes informally on the streets and cafes to anyone who would listen—and many people did want to listen.

The Trinidad cigar factory was one of the highlights of the trip for me.   I was familiar with the Cuban custom of literature readings in cigar factories.  I had once toured a Cuban cigar factory in Tampa, Florida where photos on the walls showed workers rolling cigars while a lecturer stood at the front of the factory on an elevated podium reading aloud from Cervantes, Unamuno, Quevedo and other classic authors of Spanish literature.  I could never have imagined I would one day have the honor of reading my own poetry in a cigar factory in Cuba.

In Pinar del Río, we read our poetry while the workers sat at their desks rolling and cutting cigars beneath posters of Fidel and Che smoking the classic Cuban puros.  After each poem the workers applauded by banging their cutting tools on their desks, hardly looking up from their concentrated rolling.  Most of the workers were women and I was reminded of the opera, Carmen, where the beautiful Carmen works in a cigar factory in Sevilla.  There were many Carmens at the Trinidad cigar factory.



Our host, the foreman of the factory, also read an original poem to the workers.  I smiled, thinking how unlikely that the foreman of an auto plant in Detroit would share his most intimate thoughts and feelings with his subordinates.

Following, are a few of my translations of some of the poets I met in Cuba.


Winston Morales Chavarro (Columbia)

From Antologia
translated by Jonathan Harrington


As if situated in a vague and remote space
death comes
to take us by the arm.

One can think that she is our shadow or our dream,
or perhaps a big sister
who left home a long time ago,
but surprises everyone like the arrival of an unexpected wave
or the crying of a prodigal child.

In the drunkenness of night
with its song of a crow,
with its golden halos shooting fire,
wakes us in a dream or in lethargy.
It lances us toward the absolute calm of darkness.

Then we understand
that it has always been near
that its presence is like the murmuring of a river
bordering the edge of our delta.
But at the hour of the abyss
the hour of the deadly concert
—when the Fanzah* bird sings its requiem in the backyard
or ancient bells ring,
death is not as unusual
as it is thought to be
like the impenetrable shade
that suddenly bursts into flame
and the terrifying night
in a labyrinth of perfume
where anemones begin to blossom
in the distant yard on the other side.

*see tales of Calila and Dimna (1251)


Edmundo Retana (Costa Rica)

From Passenger of the Rain
translated by Jonathan Harrington   

Where are your questions?

What wind
has carried you away?

Tell me
from your distant mouth.



Fernando de la Cruz (Mexico)

translated by Jonathan Harrington

Noam Chomsky retires from MIT
and decides to spend some time in Mérida.
He buys a modest mansion in Santa Ana
with its little swimming pool and air conditioning.
He moves his book collection to shelves installed on all the walls
and fills a cabinet with all the books he has written.

He reads in the mornings, and spends each night
in La Casa de Todos with his friend, Lorenzo;
the afternoons in Amaro with Olga and Father Lugo,
always with the notes of his latest reflections
for his conferences, articles and books.

But he is a natural-born teacher
and he soon longs to give classes once again.
He goes to (that other) MIT (Instituto Tecnologico de Mérida),
UTM and UADY to begin.
At UADY they offer him 60 pesos an hour like someone without a degree.
Of course, without pay for the summer.
UTM almost has him arrested for stepping on the grass.
At TEC they offer him a few hours teaching English.
Chomsky leaves laughing in a sweat.

And later, at the private universities, just to help pass the time
Patria, Mayab.   Marista notes that he’s Jewish and…Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
He goes to UMSA and they offer him 30 pesos an hour
to teach a class in Advanced Scholasticism
and one in public speaking.

So he gives classes in his home, on Sundays, completely gratis
to activists, artists, and adjunct professors
who may or may not be in the union.

Today he began a workshop on nonviolence
and autographed my copy, three times reread, of


Alberto Peraza Ceballos (Cuba)

Eternal Shock

From Máscaras Interiores
translated by Jonathan Harrington

Every day is an eternal shock
from the time I lost my eyes and skin;
I am left with a bitter smile
that I loan to my friends
when I cross streets
yet I feel I’m the one in debt.
A thirst persists in my chest;
an unknown emptiness.
It is strange to look at the sun
pouring its wickedness on my face
and the sky always complaining of my defects.


Aurora Martinez (Cuba)

The Moon on the Guitar

From A Contapiel

With a little bit of moon on the guitar
and the wind at my side
I make the hours ring.
October brings nostalgia
and all is well with reality:
this pine grove
and this river
that remembers so much
of this life.

Following is one of my own poems that seemed to strike a chord in Cuba.

Jonathan Harrington (Mexico)


From Aqui/Here   

All night sprockets have fallen from the sky.
The clouds have unzipped
dropping spokes all over the world.
Chains, inner tubes, handlebars and kickstands,
oh when will this godforsaken rain of bicycles cease?
Twisted frames
are lying all over backyards and baseball diamonds.
Bicycles hang
in the trees
like weird fruits.
They clutter the sidewalks,
fall into swimming pools;
they smash and clatter on the roof of my house
crushing the azaleas
in the flower boxes out front.
Oh I’m sick of it—
days and days and days on end
bicycles, bicycles, bicycles.


At the end of the week we headed back to Havana in a Packard Clipper (The Clipper was produced by Packard Motor Car Company between 1941 and 1947) that had been outfitted with a new engine.   The taxi driver rounded up customers for Havana and we headed out of Pinar del Río.  The highway between Pinar and Havana is spotlessly clean, well maintained, with neatly clipped hedges of hibiscus in the middle and pines and royal palms on the shoulders.  I was grateful for the fine maintenance of the highway because the driver took off at a speed that left me (and others in the cab) shaking with fear.   The pines and palms raced past as we sped toward the airport.  I might add that just outside the airport we were pulled over by the police and (thank god) given a ticket.  Cuba is not a lawless country.

A week of poetry, music, theater, and friendship ended with a send-off (if in spirit only) from the most famous of all Cuban poets—Jose Martí—at Jose Martí International Airport where we said farewell to Cuba for the short flight home to Yucatán, México.



Jonathan Harrington lives in an 18th century hacienda that he restored himself in rural Yucatan, Mexico where he writes and translates poetry.  He is a weekly featured reader at Café Poesía in Mérida.  He is a reader for the University of Arkansas Press’ Miller Williams Poetry Prize.  He was an invited guest to read his poetry at the International Poetry Festival in Havana, Cuba in 2012.  A graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his poems have appeared in Poetry East, The Texas Review, Main Street Rag, Green River Review, Kentucky Poetry Review, South Florida Poetry Review, English Journal, Epitaph, Slant, Black Bear Review, and many other publications.  He has published three chapbooks:Handcuffed to the Jukebox, Aquí/Here and Yesterday, A Long Time Ago.   His translations from the Spanish and Mayan have appeared in World Literature Today, Visions International, The Dirty Goat, and elsewhere. In addition to poetry, he has edited an anthology of short stories: New Visions: Fiction by Florida Writers, authored a collection of essays, Tropical Son: Essays on the Nature of Florida, and has published five novels: The Death of Cousin Rose, The Second Sorrowful Mystery, A Great Day for Dying, Saint Valentine’s Diamond and Death on the Southwest Chief.

Fiction, translation

Two and a half blocks

by Carlos Bortoni

translated by Toshiya Kamei


One morning he found a hole.

Every day he strolled around the building where he lived. Wandering aimlessly, he never repeated the previous day’s route. He walked for the sake of it whenever he liked. When he got tired, he went home to his apartment. After breakfast, he sat in the living room to watch TV and fell asleep without fail. When he woke up, he had something to eat and watched TV again to lull himself to sleep. If for some reason he woke up in the middle of the night, he would go to his room and lie down on the bed, taking up only one side, even though he now slept alone. Every day he followed the same routine – it made no difference whether it was Sunday or Thursday, Tuesday or Friday.

The hole was exactly two and a half blocks from his building. Going to the right, he reached the manhole cover, broken at one corner, which left the grille exposed. Your foot can get caught in there, he thought.

Interrupting his stroll, he turned around right away and went back to his apartment. After looking for a plastic bag in vain, he ended up calling his daughter. Where do you keep grocery bags? he asked as soon as she picked up the phone. After his retirement, she did his shopping for him, and after all, she took care of what needed to be done in his apartment. She would tell him, in a tone that sounded like a complaint, his retirement had affected him more than her mother’s death. And he would answer that her mother never made herself indispensable. This bothered her greatly. And when he didn’t make her cry, he made her storm out of the apartment, leaving things halfway and slamming the door shut. Where do you keep grocery bags? he asked again. Papá? You don’t throw them away, do you? he insisted. Papá, what do you need? I’ll buy it and bring it with me this afternoon. After your grandchildren’s English class, she answered. No, Victoria. No. I just want a plastic bag. Maybe two, he added. What do you need, Pápa? I’ll bring it. For God’s sake, Victoria, you’re just like your mother. If I miss her someday, I’ll just need to call you and forget that she’s been dead for fifteen years. Look under the sink. Under the sink? he repeated, annoyed that he hadn’t thought of it before. But instead of an answer he heard a busy signal.

He took out a plastic bag, undid the triangle his daughter made when she put it away, and blew some air into the bag to make sure it had no holes. After doing the same with another bag, he left his apartment.

Before reaching the hole, he placed one bag inside the other to reinforce it. In a garden he picked up a few large lumps of dirt and a couple of stones and put them in the bags. When he stood again before the broken manhole cover, he took out the stones and placed them in the hole, holding them with rods that had been exposed. He threw dirt over them and then stepped on it to flatten the ground and cover the hole completely. A temporary fix, he thought. But I’m not the one who should be doing this.

The following morning, he decided to break the habit of not walking the same walk two days in a row, suspecting his plaster dirt had not survived overnight. He grabbed plastic bags and went out to look for the hole. On his way there he filled the bags with dirt and stones, and when he reached the manhole, he filled the hole. He stuffed the empty bags into his pants pocket and resumed his stroll. On his way back, he stopped at the café on the first floor of his building. He went inside, asked for café americano and a chocolate muffin, and sat down to read the newspaper a waiter handed him. When he finished skimming the classified ads, he left there and went up to his apartment.

Every day he did the same – it didn’t matter if it was Monday, Wednesday, or Saturday. He left the building, filled his bags in the garden, and covered the hole, always complaining he had to do it – if you don’t do it, nobody else will. And he always stopped at the café before going home.

Some mornings his plaster contained more dirt than stones. Other mornings he needed many small stones because he couldn’t find large ones. And at other times he had to walk back to the garden to get more stones and dirt after he threw all of them into the hole. But he never missed the date with the manhole cover until he found it fixed, or rather, replaced by a new one. During the first hours of the morning, a team of workers from the Department of Public Works had replaced the broken cover. The clean cement and the new logo on it showed the age difference between the new cover and the rest of the sidewalk. Damn sons of bitches, he mumbled, holding his bags in his clenched fist. He went to another garden, emptied the bags, shoved them into his pocket, and kept walking.

At the end of the block he turned left, shaking his head and mumbling nonsense, and then made a right turn two streets away. At the corner he found a city utility truck and three men working on the sidewalk, cleaning sewers. Without a doubt, those three had replaced the manhole cover. He walked up to them and said, fucking assholes. You old son of a bitch. What’s your problem? answered one of them, looking up without stopping his work. Your mother’s a whore, he said and left without checking to see if they had heard him.

He turned right at the corner and then took the second turning on the left. He walked on the new manhole cover and went back to his building. Passing in front of the door of the café, he went up to his apartment. After a breakfast of fruit, he sat in front of the TV, turned it on, and soon fell asleep.




Carlos Bortoni was born in Mexico City in 1979 and still lives there today. He studied history at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia. His books include El imperio soy yo (2007) and Perro viejo y cansado(2007). English translations of his fiction have appeared in The 22 Magazine and Johnny America.


Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas. His translations include Liliana Blum’s The Curse of Eve and Other Stories (2008), Naoko Awa’s The Fox’s Window and Other Stories(2010), Espido Freire’s Irlanda (2011), and Selfa Chew’s Silent Herons (2012).


photo by Angela M Campbell