Three Poems


Painting by @yurikamdc, Cartagena, Colombia. Photo: Jorge Gardner, Unsplash.

The Ancestors Are...

An orchestra of seagulls
among the symphony of the soul’s afternoons
moistens the mythic ships of memory
with a kiss. 

The ancestors are: 
                  The voices,
                  The sighs,
                  The footprints,
                  The screams,
                  The gestures,
                  The songs,
                  The poems,
                  And the tears
that row with their oars of fertile sand
between the shores of consciousness,
eternally returning.

Dressed in ebony and marble,
with their watery smiles,
and their Cosmic-Serpent footsteps,
the ancestors speak from the fluid region of dreams: 

with their squid ink the ancestors
paint picto-graphs on our bodies,
shade trees on our pupils,
hew mangroves from nostalgia
tattoo atlases and fragments of ancient cartography. 

              the Ancestors
appear with eyes on their tongues
in the windows of your vision,
weaving together the skin of time,
murmuring the notebooks of existence,
and breathing in the woods of our infancies. 

The ancestors lick the heat from our swelling blood,
smell the green hue of our suffering flesh
and remember our fresh, still-wet wounds,
the wounds we hide in the cracks of dry leaves
between the interstices of history. 


The Language of Time

When the wind’s mouth arches like a bird of time,
filtered by cracks in the mysteries,
I hear a drumbeat growing on the wings of a memory
that fills the sails of thoughts from out of the blue silence,
illuminated with memory’s shadows,
flashing through the inner night I carry. 

It’s a crackling that sometimes whistles in a sonorous alphabet,
like music raining in the background,
that slowly becomes a song. 
A deep song in an arcane language that
the stairway of my throat like a mass of ants 
until I am silenced. 


My Voice

It seems strange…
but every time I pass my fingertips
over memory’s curved neck,
I feel like language is code, a thundering voice that distills honey,
the stone that shatters a calm lake.
Inside the silence of flesh rains down,
carrying the stamp of the moment
it came into existence. 

I’ve walked through crowds of words with my voice,
words tinged with dawns the fled into the night
with their naked, shadowy feet. 
Brush in hand, I sketch the fibers of syllables
and navigate how each echoes
through the interstices of thought. 

My voice is like a music box with a secret, unplayed song: 
outlined on my bird’s tongue
speech bursts forth, climbing my eyes like vines,
and outline on my bird’s tongue
primal phrases curling in spiral threads of air. 

I don’t know… it’s an undulating voice, a whistling breath from deep within
born from birds that murmur primordial rains
in the morning rivers’ sonata,
drowning the backbone of my days with their arterial vegetation. 
Maybe one day it will bloom…

Translated by Paul M. Worley


LALT No. 14
Number 14

The fourteenth issue of Latin American Literature Today features dossiers dedicated to the dislocated writing of Latin American authors based in the United States and the gothic fiction of Mariana Enriquez, plus reflections on writing in a second language by Fabio Morábito, an interview with 2019 Alfaguara Prize winner Patricio Pron, and exclusive translation previews from Guadalupe Nettel, Gabriela Wiener, and Luis Alejandro Ordóñez.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Mariana Enriquez

Dislocating Writing: Latin America Rewrites Estados Unidos





Brazilian Literature

Indigenous Literature

Translation Previews and New Releases

On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Nota Bene