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.
a new life begins
then I live
the week before
with no dignity.
In agitated, imaginary
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:
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.
The good thing about the sea is
when nobody drowns.
It happened yesterday but
I’ll tell it today
while they write
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.
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.
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?
I arrived before the message
at a bar crossing Atocha
A golden afternoon / an afternoon in flames
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,
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]
Luis Chaves (San José, 1969) writes poetry, prose, and chronicles. His work has been translated by German, French, English, and Slovene. He has received international recognition and the Premio Nacional de Poesía of Costa Rica in 2012. The Akademie Schloss Solitude of Stuttgart awarded him the Jean Jacques Rousseau grant in 2011. He was a resident at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm in 2015 and at the Institut d’Études Avancées of Nantes in 2017. His poems have appeared in publications including Poetry Magazine, PEN American Poetry Series, and The Guardian. His most recent works are the novel Salvapantallas [Screensaver] (Seix Barral, 2015), the comprehensive verse collection Falso documental [False documentary] (Seix Barral, 2016), and the chronicle/story Vamos a tocar el agua [We're going to play the water] (Los tres editores, 2017).
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).
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.
Table of Contents
- CHRONICLE: "The Town that Survived a Massacre to the Sound of Bagpipes" by Alberto Salcedo Ramos
- CHRONICLE: "Wikdi’s Journey" by Alberto Salcedo Ramos
- CHRONICLE: "Macondo in the Soul" by Alberto Salcedo Ramos
- INTERVIEW: Alberto Salcedo Ramos: Popular Culture, the Colombian Chronicle, and North American Journalism: A Conversation with Luvia Estrella Morales Rodríguez
- ESSAY: "On Latin American Speculative Fiction" by Alberto Chimal
- FICTION: "Acceptance Speech of Romualdo Sánchez Galarraga for the National Prize for Literature of the Integrated Pan-Caribbean Republic (Year 2098)" by Yoss
- FICTION: "Bonsai" by Martín Felipe Castagnet
- FICTION: "Jagged Rage" by Javier González Cárdenas
- FICTION: "The Eye" by Lilana Colanzi
- FICTION: "Doctor AN" by Edmundo Paz Soldán
- FICTION: "They Will Dream in the Garden" by Gabriela Damián Miravete
- ESSAY: "Ecuadorian Science Fiction in a Latin American Context" by Iván Rodrigo Mendizábal
- ESSAY: "A Brief Commentary on Latin American Graphic Narrative" by Radmila Stefkova
- ESSAY: "Life Through Graphics: Power Paola's Graphic Novels" by Iván Pérez Zayas
- ESSAY: "Verboiconic Literature in Argentina Nearing the Third Decade of the 21st Century" by Jorge Claudio Morhain
- ESSAY: "Tactics of Luchadoras: The 'Alma' [Soul] of Ciudad Juárez" by Esther Claudio
- INTERVIEW: Two Brazilian Graphic Novelists: Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon: A Conversation with Patrícia Lino
- INTERVIEW: Bernardo Fernández (Bef): "You can build a complete universe with just a sheet of paper and ink": A Conversation with Radmila Stefkova
- Lucas García París: “Outside of narrative, you don’t exist": A Conversation with Claudia Cavallín
- Mhoris eMm: "When queerness is normalized, something else will appear to destabilize it": A Conversation with Martin Ward
- Eduardo Halfon: Identity Under Construction: A Conversation with Aurelio Auseré Abarca and Luis Miguel Estrada Orozco
- ESSAY: "An Introduction to Yucatec Maya Literature" by Silvia Cristina Leirana Alcocer
- POETRY: "Memories" by Gerardo Can Pat
- POETRY: Four Poems by Briceida Cuevas Cob
- FICTION: From U k’a’ajsajil u ts’u’ noj k’áax / Recuerdos del corazón de la montaña by Ana Patricia Martínez Huchim
- FICTION: From T’ambilák men tunk’ulilo’ob / El llamado de los tunk’ules by Marisol Ceh Moo
- POETRY: Two Poems by Feliciano Sánchez Chan
- FICTION: From Lajump’eel maaya tzikbalo’ob / Diez relatos mayas by Miguel Ángel May May
- FICTION: From U yóok’otilo’ob áak’ab / Danzas de la noche by Isaac Esau Carrillo Can
- "Readings from the Diaspora: A Selection of Recent Venezuelan Poetry" by Néstor Mendoza
- Two Poems by Víctor Manuel Pinto
- Three Poems by Graciela Yáñez Vicentini
- Two Poems by Ania Varez
- Two Poems by Robert Rincón
- Two Poems by Cristina Gutiérrez Leal
- Two Poems by Adalber Salas Hernández
- Two Poems by Luis Eduardo Barraza
- "My Father's Black Motorcycle" by Jesús Montoya
- Two Poems by Valenthina Fuentes Meleán
- Caja de fractales by Luis Othoniel Rosa
- De viaje por Europa del Este by Gabriel García Márquez
- Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz
- Mala suerte de mi vida by Z. Ferro
- La invención de la novela contemporánea: tributo a Mario Vargas Llosa by Gladys Flores Heredia
- Extrañeza by Rodrigo Arriagada-Zubieta
- Estrategias de combate by E.S. Ortiz González
- Libro de conjuros by Emiliano Orlante
- Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention by Seth Michelson