Three Poems

Peruvian poet José Watanabe.


Our Lioness

I know the sun comes and goes, restless, sniffing me 

            amongst the canefields.

I know it delays on the zenith anxiously looking at the valley.

        The sun was our lioness.

An image, even of humble verbal imagination as this one,

goes to the mind

      and asks her to condescend 

with the poet. It is the deal.

Not this time, this time I only ask your gaze immediate

                and literal:

Who, so svelte, leaps from the window to my dais

and lifts me by the nape with soft fauces

and takes me to the river

if not the sun? 

    The sun was our lioness.

A warm breath wraps me being here, in Lower Saxony,


it is the image creating its space in my sick body,

    it is the sun that sniffs me like a missing son,

there up north in my country,

    where she taught me to walk pushing me with her snout.


The Praying Mantis

My tired gaze drew away from the forest made azure by the sun

to the praying mantis that remained motionless 50 cm from

        my eyes.

I was lying on the warm rocks on the bank of the


and she stayed there, leaning, her hands contrite,

trusting excessively her imitation of a twig or dry stick.

I tried to catch her, to show her that an eye always finds us,

but she crumbled between my fingers like a fine and brittle shell.


A casual encyclopedia now tells me I have destroyed

an empty


The encyclopedia recounts without wonder that the story went like this:

the male, on his little stone, sings and sways, calling 


and the female has already appeared by his side,

perhaps much too willing

                 and able.

Long is the coitus of the mantis.

During the kiss

she slides a long tubular tongue down to his stomach

and from the tongue drips a caustic saliva, an acid, 

liquefying his organs

and the tissue of the farthest internal reaches, while she brings him joy,

and while she brings him joy the tongue absorbs him, scoops

the final drop of substance from the foot or the brain, and the male

continues this way from the supreme schizophrenia of copulation

                                        to the death.

And seeing him already a shell, she flies, her tongue again small.


Encyclopedias do not speculate. Neither does this one conjecture what last


remains forever fixed in the dead and open mouth

                                             of the male.

We should not deny the possibility of a word

         of gratitude.



The Winged Stone

The pelican, wounded, flew away from the sea

                 and came to die

on this short desert stone.

It searched,

for some days, for some dignity

in his final position:

it ended like the beautiful frozen movement

    of a dance.


Its flesh still in agony

began to be devoured by meticulous pests, and its bones

white and delicate

fell and scattered in the sand.


on the back of the stone one of its wings remained,

its rubbery tendons dried

and adhered

to the rock

    as if it were a body.


For several days

    the sea wind

uselessly whipped the wing, it whipped without understanding

that we can imagine a bird, the most beautiful,

    but not make it fly.


Translated by Arcadio Bolaños


(Editor's Note: Read "José Watanabe: From Everyday Reality to the World of Poetry," an essay by Arcadio Bolaños, in LALT No. 2 here.)


LALT Vol. 1 No. 2
Number 2

The second issue of Latin American Literature highlights the Caribbean and queer literature from across Latin America, featuring dossiers of revolutionary Chilean writer Pedro Lemebel and Mexican author Yuri Herrera as well as a special section on literary voices from Cuba.

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