Fragments from Vision of the Children of Evil
enclosed harmonies open cupolas
Ravings launched toward the future.
Outside I hear the rain, inside I feel the rain. My clay body dissolves.
My death is the only truth I possess, my life the only lie.
This frightening reliquary of pain: the deluded memory.
The years of fat cattle are the fever’s mirages.
Write when possible. Write when impossible. Love silence.
Kill the bird. Keep the song.
The Holy Spirit to Mary: I’ll make you conceive but you’ll remain a virgin so I won’t be jealous of myself.
Where will madness drive me if not to the heart of men?
The god of antimatter fears falling into the hell of matter.
From heaven, Herod has cried out to you: Virgin, Virgin, strangle your son. Rule only in the plains of Hell.
All mothers kill their sons with the knives of their nipples.
Attention, roses of future springs: I’m taking the sun.
Silence. The dead are listening to you.
Listen, dawn. Listen, I’m dying.
Who seeks death? My memory.
Lord feel the beating of my whip. Lord feel my heart.
Listen, it’s simple. It was thrown on me. I was dust, I am time.
I have descended to my soul. I have seen myself, crucified.
I want to be eternal as if I were never born.
I’m sick and life is her name.
What is the body if not a nocturnal dawn?
Lord, Lord, I’m disguised as a virgin. Conceive in me a creator. Over the horizon the Cross awaits the last dawn.
As blasphemy grows I feel myself pray.
Tiger, rough grille before the terrible shadow.
Roar, sacrifice, for the forests have died and you no longer exist.
Over the board, the wind of a flattened tree is released.
Just as mothers like flowers, I sow shrieks in the seas.
Madness of Don Quixote, I invite you to my table. Let us break bread, speak of broken lances.
Don’t greet me by doffing your hat—your freed forehead might run away.
Face in profile, fleeing bone.
Every horse carries the shadow of a desperate jockey.
Honeysuckle, your son has grown.
Am I a verb that makes sense or just a senseless verb?
Hell: that rib we’re missing.
I draw suns because I can’t see the day.
I fear dreams, I fear insomnia. I fear insomniac dreams, dreaming insomnia.
I don’t see—I eat radiance.
Cain, where is the boy you once were?
Write celestial poetry with demonic words or better yet speak of Hell with the high purity of a god. Or hang yourself—make both poetries!
Houses have doors so that children can enter and the dead can leave.
The corpse is a child that doesn’t play.
The madman is a child that plays while wounded.
The child is a child that childs.
The tiger has no other god than his teeth.
Salvation, bastard daughter of the abyss.
Translated by Lucina Schell
Originally published in Visión de los hijos del mal. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1967
English edition published by co•im•press, 2018
Miguel Ángel Bustos (1932-1976) was a major poet of the Argentine Generation of 1960, an illustrator, and a literary critic. During his lifetime, he published Cuatro Murales [Four murals] (1957), Corazón de piel afuera [Heart of outside skin] (1959), Fragmentos fantásticos [Fantastic fragments] (1965), Visión de los hijos del mal [Vision of the children of evil] (1967), winner of the second Buenos Aires Municipal Prize for Poetry, and El Himalaya o la moral de los pájaros [The Himalayas or the morals of birds] (1970). His poetry was included in many contemporaneous anthologies of the Generation of 1960, and in 1998 Alberto Szpunberg published the anthology of his poetry Despedida de los ángeles [The angels' farewell]. Bustos studied painting with Juan Battle Planas in the 1960s and had a solo exhibition of his artworks in 1970, with a catalog written by Aldo Pellegrini. In 2014, Miguel Ángel Bustos and Emiliano Bustos had a joint exhibition of their paintings and drawings at the Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires. During the 1970s, Bustos worked primarily as a literary critic for Siete Días, Panorama, La Opinión, and El Cronista Comercial, and his collected prose was published in 2007. His collected poetry was published in 2008, the first time it had appeared in print in more than thirty years. On May 30, 1976, Bustos was arrested by military police and for decades remained “disappeared,” his work censored. In 2014, Bustos’s remains were identified by forensic anthropologists. It is now known that he was executed by firing squad on June 20, 1976.
Lucina Schell works in international rights for the University of Chicago Press and is founding editor of Reading in Translation. She is a member of the Third Coast Translators Collective, and translates poetry from the Spanish. Recent translations include So That Something Remains Lit by Daiana Henderson (Cardboard House Press DRONE Chapbook Series, 2018) and Vision of the Children of Evil by Miguel Ángel Bustos (co•im•press, 2018).
In our twelfth issue, we pay homage to two giants of Latin American letters: Ida Vitale of Uruguay, winner of the 2018 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, and Julio Ramón Ribeyro of Peru, whose work we celebrate on the ninetieth anniversary of his birth. We also feature poetry, interviews, and stories that range from the Caribbean to the Andes and from Central American to Brazil, exclusive book previews and reflections from translators, and a special section dedicated to the work of Edwin Lucero Rinza, a young poet who recently published the first ever verse collection in Kañaris Quechua.