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.

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Kreso3

painting by Kreso Cavlovic

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review

A Different Theory of Everything: Janne Teller in Mérida

by Fer de la Cruz

Janne Tellerphoto by Mirza Herrera

As Janne Teller told and retold her story to various Yucatecan reporters, I kept thinking how cool she was. She talked about how modern slavery and other forms of abuse were derived from the average person´s misuse of the big or little power she or he may have, and how stories can be made to move forward from such everyday horrors. In Mérida, students and the elderly are powerless before the omnipotent bus driver who decides not to stop for them—or for me, in many instances—so that she or he can rush through the yellow light. Hence, I could relate to her message.

I had been asked to serve as interpreter so that the local media could interview her. Her book of short stories Todo (Seix Barral, 2014)—along with a pile of other brand new books from other authors—had been given to me the night before as a symbolic payment for my task, done with great pleasure for the friend who requested this of me. Exhausted as I was after the first day at this year´s Festival Internacional de la Lectura en Yucatán (FILEY), in which I was both a speaker and an exhibitor, I devoured the first two (and a half) stories before I was blessed with the gift of a good half-night´s sleep. Days after the book fair´s craze, as I finished Todo, I was happy to recommend it to friends.

The short stories contained in Todo are mostly narrated in the voices of various young, troubled characters. They remind me of García Márquez´ concept of solitude as a chronic incapacity for loving. Teller´s message is one of empathy within the todo found “al otro lado de la soledad” (p. 135). She aims to promote awareness and communication—a dangerous thing in the eyes of totalitarian wannabes and factual dictators alike. In her stories, a given opinion, situation, or political stand, is set in a certain context, only to reappear, later in the story, in a different context. This works beautifully as both a literary device and as a means of inviting the reader to simply reflect on human decisions and the motivations behind them.

The contrast between the glammed-up photo of Ms. Teller that tops her bio on the book and the real woman who presents more of a scholarly look (as someone who cares more about books than about fashion trends), just emphasized her previously-stated “coolness.” Jetlagged as she had to be, she would kindly ask to be left alone between interviews, which I respected, somehow pitying her for the burden of fame upon her shoulders. The presentation of Todo, the next day, was a hit, attended by three or four hundred people, if my calculations are correct. As I saw her signing her books for a long, long line of readers, I couldn´t help but pity her again—not, of course, without a little envy. A good kind of envy, if there is one.

I failed to read the notes in Diario de Yucatán, La Jornada, and other media, but was still moved by her reflections on the role that a ruthless Capitalism has played on multiplying misery around the world, and about the power that everyone holds to affect one´s own environment, for the better or for the worse. Her belief that Literature can open the minds of many in this regard is what motivated her to write, she said. I also failed to ask her how her name is pronounced, but that´s beside the point.

Before she became a writer, Janne Teller worked for the United Nations in Mozambique, Tanzania, Bangladesh, the Balkans, and other places where atrocities have been committed in recent years—as in my poor Mexico where she has only visited. Her depiction of some countries in her stories—Mexico included—is not exactly that which the Ministry of Tourism of those countries would chose to portray, but there is nada they can do about it other than to ban her books, as some have. What better honor can one have than a tyrant´s ban? Little do they know, this has made her books all the more popular.

New residents of any place are often victims of bullying by locals who find in them the perfect scapegoat, as it´s easy to target one´s fears, frustrations, and insecurities on those who speak “funny” or look foreign. Mérida has become an attractive destination for foreign and domestic immigrants. People from Cuba, Belize, and Guatemala and also from rural and urban Mexico have chosen to reside here. Yucatecans´ traditional, self-proclaimed hospitality is being put to the test. In Janne Teller´s stories, multiculturalism is seen by different characters as either a burden or a gift to a society. These characters may not find it easy to communicate with each other, but they are able to with the reader, who cannot help but empathize with the latter.

After all the suffering she has witnessed, my guess is that it is not Ms. Teller´s desire to be rich, or famous, or glamorous, or even cool, but to be read. I am happy that she is, and that many Yucatecans are enjoying her stories and reflecting on the beautiful, mystical concept of Todo: “a space of peace and harmony where fear does not exist.”

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

Fer de la Cruz, MA is a Yucatecan poet born in Monterrey, México, in 1971. He was a member of the founding faculty at the School of Creative Writing of the State Center of Fine Arts, in Mérida. He is the coordinator of the historic Mérida branch of Centro de Idiomas del Sureste. As an independent editor, writer, and cultural consultant ad honorem, he participated in cultural festivals, conferences and book fairs in France, Cuba, and the United States, as well as in various states of México. His poetic works appeared in La cuenta regresiva: Radiografía urbana mesozoica (chapbook, satire, El Drenaje, 2012), Aliteletras. De la A a la que quieras (book for children, Dante, 2011), Redentora la voz (book, Ayuntamiento de Mérida, 2010), and Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies (chapbook, JK Publishing, 2008), as well as in literary magazines and anthologies. As a translator of poetry, he has published Aquí/Here, by Jonathan Harringnton (JK Publishing, 2011) and Candidates for Sainthood and Other Sinners/Aprendices de santo y otros pecadores, by Don Cellini (Mayappla Press, 2013). He has received 2 national, 2 regional, and 1 state-wide poetry awards. 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. His full name is Luis Fernando de la Cruz Herrera, but don´t tell anyone.

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

Todo - cover

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Poetry

Unitedstatesians and other poems

by Fer de la Cruz

 

Unitedstatesians

 

They speak every language in the world in their cities

and they read all the literatures in their libraries.

Their visits to the moon don´t impress me much.

 

Their moonshine is out of this world,

sweet as the white corn they invented.

They harvest the best apples from their fields.

They have good wine and cheese, bourbon, and microbeer.

 

They have lawyers and doctors washing dishes

—those who don´t speak the language.

At home, dishwashers are illiterate.

 

They´re puritan as Muslims—many are Muslims, Buddhists, Catholic,

or even devout pagans—except for those who´re not.

 

They´re racist as everyone else,

but they´ll admit it. And many fight for equality,

collect signatures, change laws, and such…

 

True, they always have a war: some fight in it while others are against it.

Very unlike us, they trust their institutions.

I don´t picture them as subjects to a foreign monarch,

like Australians, Belizeans, or Canadians.

They value their own dynasties

but not more than backyard barbecue.

 

They have frybread, pita bread, tortillas, and samosas, falafels, empanadas…

They have all of us too—my uncles, aunts, and cousins who are American

and celebrate Thanksgiving, and hyphenate their names, which is also my name.

So I can´t say I don´t love them.

 

Now they´re aiming for Mars

which belongs to the universe and all.

Next, they´ll claim it as their own

like I´m claiming this piece of American Literature

as my own.

 

 

Trace of Mona Lisa

 

A smiley face next to the line I like.

This one came out with quite a smirk.

I read the line as I recall

the dwelling for my cat when I was, nine?

who redefines me

each time I feel his whiskers on my lap

as in a dream

or as your eyes tonight

or as this amber flame

containing the rejoicing of shooting stars.

 

O do I love this line!

which makes me wonder what my face looks like

this moment as I chant.

 

Heavenly Epic of Cats and Dogs

 

It´s raining cats and dogs.

The barking falls as thunder. The

cats´ eyes resemble lightning. And the

fights…

the cats flashing their paws as they

keep balance midair;

the dogs displaying their teeth

while spinning in the sky,

Chihuahuas and Great Danes

equally terrified.

 

Each battle is won by cats;

aerodynamic instinct makes them experts

on hitting solid ground.

 

But those poor dogs, o dear!

I hope there really is

a heaven for them all.

 

 

Absolute

 

Nothing is really happening.

That car did not go by

Nor did we hear the bell of the ice-cream vendor.

We don´t see façades in flowery colors.

Nobody is roasting beef

while listening to cumbia on the radio,

urgeing grackles to grack between the branches

that are not being shaken

by non-existing wind.

Even these tiny ants

are not making the ground move in the shade

that isn´t here. A-ah.

 

The only real thing is all around us,

among us, inside us,

before and after us,

if you´re a voice of faith.

 

The problem

is

to find it.

 

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

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, in print), “Sabotaje a la che y otros poemas de martitologio” (2012, Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán, announced) and in the chapbook “Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies” (JKPublishing, 2008). He has received two national, one 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.

Fer recently won 1st prize in the Premio Regional de Poesia Jose Diaz Bolio, 2011, sponsored by Patronato Pro Historia Peninsular, $10,000 pesos, his second time. The first was in 2003.

And 2nd place in the Premio Estatal de Literatura Infantil Elvia Rodriguez Cirerol, 2011, sponsored by Instituto de Cultura de Yucatan, $5,000 pesos.

 kristi54

photo by Kristi Harms

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Essay

The literary scene in Yucatan

by Fer de la Cruz

 

In the state of Yucatán, where decentralization is only a political slogan, literary things happen mostly in its capital city: Mérida. In a way, things are rocking among the chaos of UNESCO´s “City of Peace”: 2 schools of creative writing have been founded within the past 3 years: 1) Escuela de Creación Literaria (where I teach) of the State Institute of Fine Arts, in which Spanish and Mayan-speaking adults earn a 3-year degree in Creative Writing, and workshops are offered for children and teenagers. 2) Escuela de Escritores Leopoldo Peniche Vallado belongs to the State Institute of Culture (ICY), which is currently in the process of becoming a Ministry—so much for descentralización! Both schools are inconveniently located in the same building, across from the zoo. On the other hand, two universities, one public, one private, have been graduating Literature majors for a decade. And there´s a number of private workshops throughout town.

Back to the issue of centralism, the only living Yucatecan writers who have been truly influential (big names like Agustín Monsreal and Raúl Renán) have resided in Mexico City for decades. Also, Raúl Cáceres Carenzo resides in Toluca; Jorge Pech in Oaxaca; Reyna Echeverría in New York… Among those who reside within the state borders are those who are native Yucatecans (Francisco Lope Ávila, Roger Metri, Jorge Lara, José Díaz Cervera, Lourdes Cabrera, and Mayan writer Feliciano Sánchez Chan, to name some) and those born elsewhere who must be considered a part of the community of Yucatecan writers, such as Cuban-born Raúl Ferrera Balanquet and maestro Jonathan Harrington, who calls himself Orgullosamente yucagringo.

There are two main independent groups of writers: Centro Yucateco de Escritores, A.C. (CYEAC), which was created over 2 decades ago, has been hosting an on-going workshop, a magazine (Navegaciones Zur), an has its own publisher (Ediciones Zur). Also, five years ago or so, la Red Literaria del Sureste was created as an alternative. Some politically active writers from both groups hold public offices. There are also those with academic credentials in literature, such as Manuel Iris, Ph.D. candidate; Jafet Israel Lara, Ph.D. candidate; Cristina Leirana, M.A., and your humble Fer de la Cruz, M.A. The rest have never heard of Terry Eagleton.

There are lots of writers, it seems. The problem is, local bookstores show little interest in marketing their works. To publish a book, one may submit it to the editorial council of either ICY or Ayuntamiento de Mérida. If selected, the book will be published but not necessarily promoted. One may also try her/his luck in state or nation-wide literary contests for money and/or publication. Librerías Dante sponsored 2 contests for publication. The second batch of 10 authors from all three states of the Yucatan Peninsula is being published this year. Other than that, there is no such thing as agents or talent-hunters, and big name publishers appear only on display, especially for those who lack political connections.

So, how do local writers earn their daily bread? They pray: Some pray to God; some (with political connections) prey on smaller fish. Those who don´t hold a public office may have steady jobs in private institutions. There are those with two, three, or even four part-time teaching jobs, whose paychecks (in the case of public schools) may be delayed for periods of five months year after year. Some writers may be asked to present a book, write a prologue, or preside over a public event without pay. Some others are invited to jury in a literary contest, with pay—the honest ones are seldom called for the latter.

New generations of local writers are starting to emerge. Also, new generations of critics are earning degrees in literature. There is hope that these young professionals learn to separate art and politics and that the way things are may actually be challenged without losing one´s job.

Better laugh than cry in México´s “safest city.” Following the steps of maestro Agustín Monsreal, I have become a satirist who hopes not to have disappointed the readers with my view on things, since writing is my way of making the world a better place.

 

 

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photo by Dan Griffin


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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).

 

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Poetry, translation

Tulum and other poems

by Fer de la Cruz

Tulum

 

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:

“Freking-freeking-slooow!”

 

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.

 

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Bilingual, Poetry

Trespasser Shoes and other poems

by César Love

 

Trespasser Shoes

Shoes perfect for the fastest dance
Shoes so cool
Even jaywalkers swoon.
Shoes that scale barbed wire
Two taps and you’re invisible
To every cop and guard.
Shoes that violate the dress code
Shoes that never came in a box.
The shoes that skip over stairs
That short-circuit escalators
Three taps and you leap above
Foul lines, flag poles, border checkpoints.
Trespasser shoes
Polished with a darker shade of saint.
Hiding in your closet
Waiting to walk on water.

 

Trespasser Shoes

Versión al español: Fer de la Cruz

Idóneos zapatos para el baile más veloz,

tan chéveres

que incluso los peatones que cruzan carreteras acaban extasiados;

zapatos que trascienden las púas de los alambres:

dos golpes de tacón y te vuelves invisible

a los ojos de la migra y patrullas fronterizas;

zapatos desafiantes de códigos de ropa;
zapatos que no vienen en cajas de zapatos

y vuelan por encima de escaleras,

y que incluso provocan algún corto circuito

por la escalera eléctrica que esté sobrevolando:

tres golpes de tacón y ya trasciendes
interminables colas, astas de las banderas y retenes;

zapatos para entradas ilegales

boleados con oscura piel de santo

ocultos en tu clóset, en espera del momento

de caminar también sobre las aguas.

 

 

The Slowest Dance

 

What child is not enthralled by the pendulum’s easy swing?

The rolling advance and return of the Jupiter ball.

 

When the wine in autumn seeps dry, our eyes bind to the staff.

Will it topple at next rush? Should we align with the coup?

 

Lean forward from the lawn chair and dissect the noonday sky.

Will the fog brim to rain? Will it ever retreat to blue?

 

Migrate to wildflower meadows. Follow the Carnival.

Advance the tape to the rapture of a favorite song.

 

But return to the green of your birth and stroll sleeveless in rain.

Drink there and sing to a quiet song of the slowest dance.

 

 

Luminaries

 

I only know your letters, your voice

The pictures show more gloss than you

 

Trust me to see your face

Without make-up, without neon

 

I’ll take you to my hidden place

And trust you with the map

 

A cratered street with broken lamps

We’ll beam beneath each other’s rays

 

 

Wedding Presents

 

To the certain couple

In uncertain times

 

When the street noise whelms

Give them a ladder to the rooftop garden

 

When shrapnel falls

Give them a veil from the world we witness

 

When the sky blackens

Give them the stars, wishful, eternal

 

To the certain couple

In uncertain times

 

Give them a drum, sonorous and large

One rhythm that weds four hands

 

To the certain couple

In uncertain times

 

Give them our thank you

For their weather of hope cascading upon us

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César Love is a Latino poet influenced by the Asian masters. A resident of San Francisco’s Mission District and an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, he has worked as a reporter and taught creative writing to recipients of general assistance. His book While Bees Sleep will soon be published by CC. Marimbo Press. He first fell in love with Merida when he was eleven years old. He had the great pleasure of staying there for three weeks of April.

 

Art by Judith Shaw

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