Eight Poems

Costa Rican poet Luis Chaves. Photo: Alina Muños Knudsen.

Decade

We have to start
the decade over again,
the line got twisted.


In another order of things

The rats ate
the birds’ food.

You force me to say, once again,
“I told you so.”

As soon as the sun rises
we have to think of
the three daily meals.

Every Monday
a new life begins
then I live
the week before
with no dignity.

In agitated, imaginary
discussions
the year passed us by.

I told you so.

Memory and/or the stars
are aged light.
They barely light up
that place where one
calls to her own
from the door
and an afternoon ends
and the plate never gets cold.

Not necessarily in that order:
The rats
The food
The birds


I come in peace

A good day tempted to iron my jeans. A good day tempted to cut them at the knee. Isabella says, “the printers hate us.” I tell her, Isabella, what a nice aphorism or whatever. I think ill of the people who can spend hours in a pool without wetting their heads. Like you. Like me.

The light separates us and the sound of breathing underwater. Or under the heart. Or the printers. Ah, the word I was looking for earlier was “apothegm.”

I came in peace, then I changed my mind.


Marine

The good thing about the sea is
when nobody drowns.

It happened yesterday but
I’ll tell it today
while they write
a name
on the sand
with a stick that came
floating among bags
and leaves and pipes.
They write today
what I told yesterday
monotony has a draft
we call waves.

They’re the ones
that tickle your feet
and then go away.

They’re the ones that erase
your feet or whatever they reach.
What the sea touches
belongs to the sea.


Rear-View

We lowly ones can’t see what’s coming
but I’m an expert in what was left behind:

a forest fire
and that metal that doesn’t stick to magnets.


Thinking of you on a day like today

So early and unemployed.
I started unraveling:
the harpoon of pulse, the view
and the memory.

But I don’t want to mend things,
let’s not pretend: what you liked most
about the telephone
was hanging up.


Analgesia 

Katafenac is my copilot,
although the mercury says otherwise.

We wanted to be a simple song,
but we couldn’t.

If everything is music and math,
what does this belong to?


Message

I arrived before the message
at a bar crossing Atocha
or Alexanderplatz.

A golden afternoon / an afternoon in flames
passing time,
my memory full of parts
of other puzzles.

The body here, the mind there:

when a coral entered the kitchen
and we emptied the fishtank to trap it

the years of still clouds,
outside gravity

the colored wax
on the birthday candle

and all that creaked
but with good sense
like the contrary of evil.

Time was passing and I ate
your fortune cookie,
I was saying that
today it’s your turn
to give mama her morphine.

Translated by Arthur Dixon

From the unpublished verse collection Fuera de la gravedad [Outside gravity]

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LALT No. 6
Number 6

LALT No. 6 goes from the gripping true stories of literary journalism to the strange worlds of fantastic short stories and graphic literature. We highlight chronicles by Colombian journalist Alberto Salcedo Ramos, speculative fiction in a dossier curated by Mexican writer Alberto Chimal, and Yucatec Maya poetry and prose in our ongoing Indigenous Literature series. 

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