A Nice Night to Dance to Rock
Tonight is a nice night to dance to rock.
We brought my father, dead, from Santiago,
the family wanted to see itself together at last:
our mother only ever took orders from the family.
“You’re the one who’ll go with your father in
Fine, I agreed, and I went to buy cigarettes.
On the way out of the city I asked the driver to turn on
the radio, we started smoking.
“My father used to smoke too,” I said.
On the highway, he looked for a station;
the radio sounds bad out here because of the mountains.
“Let’s listen to a cassette,” the driver said.
We put on the tape, a selection of Argentine rock,
and then he asked if I smoked weed.
We smoked while we drove on through the mountains
down the highway.
When we arrived, we lowered dad’s coffin
and I thanked the driver for the trip.
Today, like eighteen years ago,
I think of the one I have to bring from the big city
so the family can be together,
so the family can be happy.
On the fourth visit
I chose to keep quiet.
The judge asked me for explanations, evidence,
I asked them to turn off the heating,
she insisted again about the evidence,
I asked her to decide promptly,
fifty thousand is fine, she said,
I can’t manage that but I didn’t speak up,
I thought of the car’s broken window,
the dog who’s been tearing up the yard,
the photos my eldest son gave me from an
here we’re all together on a beach.
How I’d like to avoid the antidepressants
my son takes,
the ones my mother takes,
eating seafood by the beach with our families.
The album is evidence of happiness.
Edison Never Visited the Cemetery of Concepción
The crystal-clear image of electricity came to me
—electricity I went without in the house for a week—
a neighbor gave me energy with an extension cord.
I watched the news before the dark house,
I watched my shadow making tea or looking for a
pencil or a bag.
The dark house made me think of the details
and issues of the day;
of course, I didn’t want to think of anything strange
nobody wants that when the house is dark.
At the Hotel Almagro, I decided to walk through the city,
I had heard good things about it, but all the same
I ended up in the cemetery;
I came back thinking: What a nasty cemetery,
what nasty people!
At dinner the waitress asked me about the city;
I answered: the people here don’t love each other much,
the cemetery’s at rock bottom.
Ah, well, it’s been awhile since I’ve been,
my daughter and my husband are there, an accident, you
No, I don’t know, I answered, and at that moment I left
in the dark,
the electricity had left me behind,
and I could see my shadow and hers
groping around among plates and tablecloths
but someone turned on the light of the
and our shadows returned to our bodies:
electricity returned to writhe through our lives.
The three selected poems were first published in the verse collection Dónde iremos esta noche [Where are we going tonight], published by Ediciones Inubicalistas in November 2018.
Translated by Arthur Dixon
Cristian Cruz was born in San Felipe, Chile in 1973. He has published the books Pequeño País (poems, 2000, Ediciones Casa de Barro), Fervor del Regreso (poems, 2002, Ediciones del Temple), Papeles en el Claroscuro (literary chronicles, 2003, Ediciones Gobierno de Valparaíso), La Fábula y el Tedio (poems, 2003, Ediciones Don Bosco), Reducciones (poems, 2008, Ediciones Fuga), Dónde iremos esta noche (poems, 2015, Ediciones Inubicalistas), Entre el cielo y la tierra (anthology, 2015, Mago Editores), and La aldea de Kiang después de la muerte (poems, 2017, Ediciones Casa de Barro). Along with the poet Ricardo Herrera, in 2005 he published Bar. Antología de poesía chilena. He is the editor of Felices Escrituras, poetas chilenos pensando una provincia (essay and poetry, 2019, various authors, Ediciones Basa de Barro). In 2003 he received the Alerce Prize of the Sociedad de Escritores de Chile for the book La Fábula y el Tedio. He has been included in various Chilean and international anthologies.
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).
In our thirteenth issue, we feature two innovative, hard-to-define figures of Latin American letters: from the present, Mexican writer Mario Bellatin, and from the past, Chilean writer Juan Emar. Together with these authors, we highlight Latin American theatre for the first time with a script by Ramón Griffero, Nahuatl-language poetry by Martín Tonalmeyotl, plus interviews, book reviews, exclusive previews, and more from writers including Rosario Castellanos, César Aira, and Salgado Maranhão.