Three Poems from Cosmonauta

 

Self-portrait of Venezuelan writer Enza García Arreaza.

if you drew a map of my body
you would find traces of the blast
where dinosaurs pass away
where those who did not love me agonize
look at the long line of people
who would not give their lives for you
unlike your mother
who really had no choice but to open wide
and spit you out
onto the soil and its fossils
as women did in 1987 when
nobody aired their dirty laundry
in the form of hashtags
from now on I’ll be teleological
I will claim that all these poems
are about her
the very insufferable one
who does not even know how to speak properly
she would surely say this poem is insidious
just take a seat child and get yourself a piece of cake

 

*

 

A tenebrous prediction hinders me
demon with a long tongue
screams louder than a crowd of parakeets
sailing the afternoon
you have to pay attention to the first ruins
you have to negotiate the stars
because one is one’s tribe and one’s dead dog
we have to clean ourselves
that is the difference between us and angels

 

*

 

I imagine a coffin with loose bones, a riot of gunfire and liquor during the funerals of a criminal. Literature is the splendorous dead making noise in your shameful crack, shaking chains from places of guilt or resentment. And of happiness, too. Doesn’t this happen to you, where you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t understand how it’s possible that we always have a voice inside our head? Possessing something alive, of dialogue or gagged, memorious and prophetic, is an evolutionary concession that still amazes me. It is the distance between the birth of a star and a tale from beyond the grave.

 

From the book Cosmonauta. Caracas: Fundación La Poeteca, 2020.
Translated by Enza García Arreaza and James Cummings

 

James Cummings is a freelance translator, with a BA in Asian Languages and Literature from the University of Iowa. He translates from Japanese and Spanish. 

Languages

LALT No. 17
Number 17

In our seventeenth issue, we highlight the work of groundbreaking Colombian writer Albalucía Ángel, alongside Octavio Paz, a towering figure of Mexican letters and the second Latin American winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. We also feature Peruvian poet Eduardo Chirinos, a series of photo portraits of writers in the pandemic, a selection of new translations seeking publisher, plus writing in the Murui, Quechua, and Tseltal lenguages in our ongoing Indigenous Literature section.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Albalucía Ángel

Dossier: Octavio Paz

Dispatches from the Republic of Letters

Fiction

Poetry

Essays

Chronicle

Interviews

Pandemic Postcards

Indigenous Literature

Translation Previews and New Releases

On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Dossier: Eduardo Chirinos

Nota Bene