Three Poems

 

Rock in the sea, Islas Ballestas. Photo: Peter Conlan, Unsplash.

 

We each know where we need to be
             like the sea
we’re here
                           then               there
     we approach                                                we retreat
                                                                                          embrace
             and release
we grow                                    like                                the                                 sea
                                                              which began
             like a singular
person

 

 

You were on me and night fell
On the haystack in the stable
You rustled my breath like a white hanky
And we heard the cows low soooo long
You stayed on me and the hours passed
My muscles relaxed
The grass gently grew 
A rose thorn pinned in my lip
A trace of blood
In your mother’s apple cake
You were on me and night fell
You stayed on me and the hours passed
The grass gently grew

 

 

Brand-new heaven 

This poem is a heaven
so you can live here after dying
with all my heart
if you are atheists and don’t know where to go
if you are christians swindled of your land
if you live day to day and didn’t make any arrangements
return Here
Here you’ll meet your great grandparents
you’ll celebrate reunion with all your dogs
what’s more, you’ll come across the celebrities you crushed on at their peak on the physical plane
Here Marc Bolan is friends with Mónica Santa María and they sing children’s songs
with the girl from The Ring who’s cute and sweet 
because she finally found the ideal place to rest in peace
Carl Sagan enjoys spending the afternoon sitting
observing Madame Blavatsky
Lord Byron always tries to seduce them
The unknown folx like us are happy too
There are snack stands run by kids 
because Here it isn’t looked down on that they work
and they don’t have to go to school
Children are content working
even the girl from The Ring 
as was mentioned already
her name is Samara, she sells cigarettes and mezcal
The Lady of Cao keeps tattooing herself and tattoos others too
The unknown soldier sometimes does exotic dances
He takes off every last garment and it’s free to watch 
Heaven is generally sky blue
only rests one day a week
then another color covers
whichever volunteers
Here no one is obligated to anything
This bright-eyed heaven I designed for you all with the help of the best urban planners 
I also added a god just in case
somewhere discreet
so you can play to find xem
in this simulacrum of eternity over sixty-four lines open to all without discrimination
Selena looks for god in the details
Frankie Ruiz and Amy Winehouse in hard drugs
Severo Sarduy, the real Paul Mccartney, Eduardo Chirinos, Dolly the sheep, Baba Vanga 
Suddenly all the dead have gone searching for xem and there emerges a silence which in the terrestrial hemisphere is pure vaporwave
They’re rummaging like crazy through the design
as if there were a prize
But if we’re already in heaven
Cut it off!
They don’t appreciate my work I’m hurt
At least they notice and they hug me kiss me
Everything’s fine I’m fine I’m fine!
Let’s all go trick out this good heaven of ours
we’ll add a few cyclops here and there and seahorses
christmas lights a big pool of cucumber lemon water 
nudist accessory stores 
furry dogs playing like fleeting clouds
distant ships coming in our direction
And we can go on and on like that forever
building paradise with our whims
with our fetishes our loves our vices
What luck
We’ll wait for you then
Don’t take too long
Place-hold the page
We’ll be here 

Translated by Honora Spicer

Languages

Elicura Chihuailaf
Number 16

In our sixteenth issue, we celebrate Mapuche poet Elicura Chihuailaf, who in 2020 became the first indigenous writer to receive Chile's National Prize for Literature. We also feature dossiers dedicated to the work of Andrés Neuman, Latin American literary criticism, and the Latin American essay, plus a bilingual selection of texts from Dispatches from the Republic of Letters: 50 Years of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature commemorating Gabriel García Márquez, the first Latin American author to win the prestigious Neustadt Prize.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Elicura Chihuailaf

Dossier: Andrés Neuman

Dispatches from the Republic of Letters

Latin American Literary Criticism

Fiction

Poetry

Essays

Interviews

Brazilian Literature

Chronicle

Translation Previews and New Releases

On Translation

Nota Bene