Behind the head and the eyes
there is still a little meat.
If you had enough time
between each mouthful
you would count up the bones,
the scales you forgot to peel off.
You must eat, leave no leftovers.
Imagine the fish swam up to your plate
forgetting his home beneath the waves.
Imagine he left behind the sun,
he will never spawn again.
Nourish your flesh with new flesh.
The fish is fried.
It it doesn’t bleed, it’s not a sin.
The scaffolding elevates and suspends.
Your life depends on its efficacy,
on the balance of the cables
You submit yourself to the purpose of sustaining
the body of he who works in the heights.
I see your silhouette that shows itself
on the scaffold.
And the hand that adjusts to life
and depends only on the solid boards
that prevent the fall.
You are the tightrope walker;
who cleans the windows, who paints,
who lays the bricks.
You think you are the master of elevation
and the breeze of the pigeons.
God is pure height, you say, and you no longer fear him.
The guava rots
It doesn’t want to fall
from the branches, even though
its body feels
that the earth pulls at
that it calls on
the worms and the pulp.
(If someone bit into
they couldn’t tell the difference
between anyone’s softness.)
Its purpose is to be there,
tall and trusting,
to let itself be punctured by some beak,
to soften up before falling.
At both ends of the bridge
the petrified rivets
immobilize the ropes.
The passers-by waste no time
in detailing the changes that the years
have marked on the structure.
It is the same bridge: no greater force is needed
to name it again.
Founded fifty years ago,
by people who have probably already died,
it stays as useful as ever:
underneath, the same river without philosophy,
children who play at drowning,
two young men who touch each other, hidden
in the easy current to conceal their contact.
The passers-by go from side to side, as
natural as every day.
There is no wonder to point out
a new interpretation.
The sea took a bite out of
the cartography of my country.
It left unequal
borders on the land, it left
cities shaped like hats,
coasts sketched with nervous strokes and grooves.
The water of the coast is always
noble with the children,
it is a different sea,
with no violent waters.
The sun is just above,
and I hide it with my thumb.
I split it in two.
Now I have two suns to share.
The sun is harsh:
at this hour
sweat matters more than embraces.
Clear sky, the body face up,
all the sand stuck in the pants.
The waves rock ships
with flags I don’t recognize.
So many people who pass,
seeking more bronze on their skins,
a metallic color to cover the paleness
and make it less foreign.
I only have a simple, fearful gaze
for this landscape,
and the sensation of a glass that separates me,
a cloth, a mesh, I don’t know.
Our only country is this board,
rustic, to hold up the chest.
We must not abandon the hills
of childhood, scatter the center,
erase or annul it with our fingers,
found a territory with our nails.
I have bitten down enough on my nails
in an act of faith on my board.
Perhaps just to know I have fingers
similar to my father and his chest.
I don’t mean to distance myself from the center,
from our little region, from the hills.
I grew tired of treading the same hills,
loving them, hating them, handling them: my nails
go beyond the predictable center.
I don’t know, perhaps they seek another board
that celebrates, with new touch, the chest.
That is why I offer the sand in my fingers.
So there is no longer a limit to these fingers
or so death comes from far off to these hills.
This will make more pleasant the chest,
always docile to the touch and to the nails.
I discover it: although I cling on and my board
is placid, you always hide your center.
What I love and admire has its center
in another republic, in other fingers,
on a noble island, with a board,
rough, on which I write new hills:
they are a woman of humble hands and nails
that hold me firm against her chest.
I will return to the warmth of the chest,
maternal (to drink the milk of the center,
most beautiful); free, sober, without nails,
I will return to divide with my fingers.
Defeated, I will not leave the hills:
My inheritance, my country, will be this board.
He who steals the board will see my chest,
and greener hills will be born, the center
of my love; they will have fingers and other nails.
"Fish," "Scaffolding," "Decomposition," and "The Bridge" from Andamios [Scaffolding] (Editorial Equinoccio, Caracas, Venezuela, 2012)
"Cartography" and "Sestina" from Pasajero [Passenger] (Dcir Ediciones, Caracas, Venezuela, 2015)
Translated by Arthur Dixon
Néstor Mendoza (Mariara, Venezuela, 1985) is a poet, essayist, and cultural promotor. He earned his undergraduate degree in Education from the Universidad de Carabobo before pursuing postgraduate studies in Latin American Literature. He is a member of the editorial committee of the journal Poesía (U.C.) and the organizing committee of the International Book Fair of the Universidad de Carabobo (FILUC). He has published the books Andamios (Editorial Equinoccio, Caracas, 2012) and Pasajero (Dcir Ediciones, Caracas, 2015). In 2011, he received the IV Premio Nacional Universitario de Literatura "Alfredo Armas Alfonzo." His work has been included in Destinos portátiles, muestra de poesía venezolana reciente (Lima, Peru, 2015), and he is one of the young authors included in Nuevo país de las letras (Banesco, Venezuela, 2016). He is a permanent collaborator of the bilingual journal Latin American Literature Today (LALT), published from the University of Oklahoma. In the "Papel Literario" (El Nacional), he writes the column "Espacios en Blanco," which offers reviews of Venezuelan poetry. With his poem "Díptico del laberinto," he was a finalist for the I Premio Nacional de Poesía Joven Rafael Cadenas (2016). In Ediciones "Letra Muerta," he forms part of the editorial board and is responsible for the column "Correspondencias." His work has been translated to English and German.
and he has published two verse collections: Andamios (IV Premio Nacional Universitario de Literatura "Alfredo Armas Alfonzo," 2011) and Pasajero (2015). He is a coeditor of the anthology of Venezuelan poetry "Tiempos grotescos" (in Ritmo, a journal of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2016). He coordinates digital content and the reviews column of Editorial Letra Muerta.
Arthur Dixon works as a translator and as Managing Editor of Latin American Literature Today. His translation of Andrés Felipe Solano’s “The Nameless Saints” (WLT, Sept. 2014) was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize, and his most recent project is a book-length translation of Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza’s Cuidados intensivos (see WLT, Sept. 2016).
The seventh issue of Latin American Literature Today highlights indigenous voices with dossiers dedicated to three Wayuu writers from Colombia and Zapotec poetry and prose. We also pay homage to renowned Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo with a special dossier, as well as returning to the strange worlds of Latin American science fiction and opening a new space for Brazilian literature in Portuguese and English.
Table of Contents
- ESSAY: "Eugenio Montejo: An Introduction" by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza
- ESSAY: "Eugenio Montejo: A Living Presence Ten Years After His Passing" by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza
- ESSAY: "Eugenio Montejo and the Poetics of the Essay" by Miguel Gomes
- ESSAY: "The Joyous Excess of Eugenio Montejo’s Heteronymy" by Nicholas Roberts
- ESSAY: "So the Song Remains: Cosmic Orientation and Landscape in the Poetry of Eugenio Montejo" by Luis Enrique Belmonte
- POETRY: Five Poems by Eugenio Montejo
- ESSAY: "The White Workshop" by Eugenio Montejo
- POETRY: "Final sin fin" by Eugenio Montejo
- INTERVIEW: "A Choral Interview with Eugenio Montejo" by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza, Julio Bolívar, Edmundo Bracho, Marina Gasparini, and José Pulido
- ESSAY: "Three Wayuu Writers Bring Winds of Renewal from the Desert" by Ana María Ferreira
- ESSAY: "Estercilia Simanca: A Writer who Makes the Desert Blossom" by Ana María Ferreira
- ESSAY: "Vito Apüshana: from Woumain to Wallmapu and from there to Rockies" by Juan Guillermo Sánchez
- ESSAY: "Pulowi of Uuchimüin" by Estercilia Simanca
- FICTION: "I Never Heard the Birds Again" by Vicenta Siosi
- POETRY: Five Poems by Vito Apüshana
- "Andean Science Fiction: An Introduction" by Marcelo Novoa
- "Andean Science Fiction: If Everything Unites Us… Does Nothingness Separate Us?" by Marcelo Novoa
- "Andean Dystopias: When the Future Clashes with Desire" by Iván Rodrigo Mendizábal
- "Andean Science Fiction: Pitfalls and Possibilities" by Daniel Salvo
- Ya nadie llora por mí by Sergio Ramírez
- Huracán by Sofía Segovia
- Casa transparente by María Luque
- La casa devastada by Carlos Cociña
- The Hours by Juan Carlos Villavicencio
- El asesinato de Laura Olivo by Jorge Eduardo Benavides
- Los terneros by Rodrigo Blanco Calderón
- Baroni: A Journey by Sergio Chejfec
- Desalojo de la naturaleza by Juan Arabia
- Teoría y práctica de La Habana by Rubén Gallo