From Impure Acts


Italian poet Ángelo Néstore. Photo: Martín de Arriba.


Like rearranging the furniture of one’s home,
searching for some peace,
that’s how I prepare to burn the bridges
that uphold everything I knew as manly.
I was an arsonist with my heart, I stoked the flames,
I illuminated the path for you,
sat down to wait, but you didn’t come.
And as the enormous building burned
only I was able to see the light
in the uncertain future of its ashes.

I’ve honored my father until he became my intimate enemy
and as a boy I always sat where I was supposed to,
with my legs together, not toward either side.
Now I’m the father who sets the table for two,
although you’re not here,
who every day scrubs your clean, unused plates. 

And like the arsonist who prepares to burn the bridges,
searching for some peace,
I rearrange the furniture of my home once more.


Pelicans Die of Hunger from Blindness

To the fisherwoman, Muriel

Pelicans die of hunger from blindness.
They plunge their beaks into the water at such speeds
to feed their chicks
that their eyes become damaged until they wind up blind and die.

In a supermarket,
a woman pushes her shopping cart with difficulty,
stops before the fish counter,
adjusts her progressive lenses.

I sense her yearning for life
when she tells the fishmonger
half a kilo of sea bass for the girls
and I see in her the speed of a bird that spreads its wings,
(its eyes bleeding) 
and tucks away in her bag a sea bass.

A pelican with progressive lenses,
a woman with a fish between her teeth–
they’re all the mothers I’m not and who watch me,
coming to sotto voce conclusions,
staring with a certain unease
at the misshapen dryness of my sterile mouth.


Song for a Daughter

My daughter who is not my daughter lives in the suburbs as I do,
her body still searching for the fall.

My daughter doesn’t have time because she has hunger,
she plays at building castles with the leftover bones from dinner
and when she’s bored she counts the spaces between her ribs.

My daughter who is not my daughter has a daughter inside
who pleads in shouts for another name,
who pleads in shouts that she be afraid
of the sounds that batter midnight.

My daughter who is not my daughter doesn’t know the cold of the tombs
or whether the sheets tangle in the middle of the night,
she only searches for a father in the geography of the deserts.

Translated by Lawrence Schimel

From Impure Acts, forthcoming from Indolent Books in 2019. Originally published as Actos impuros (2017).


Latin American Literature Today No. 10
Number 10

In our tenth issue, we question the values of literature and journalism in the post-truth age through the words of Mexican writer Juan Villoro and we explore new territories of digital literature in a dossier curated by Scott Weintraub. We also feature memories of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre told through graphic narrative, new perspectives on the translation of Shakespeare into Spanish with an essay from Braulio Fernández Biggs, and Wayuu literature from the Venezuelan side of the border than runs through their ancestral lands.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Juan Villoro

Dossier: Digital Literature


Indigenous Literature




Translation Previews and New Releases


On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Graphic Narrative

Nota Bene