from issue #3: Poetry by Sergio Badilla Castillo, translated by Roger Hickin and the Author (II)

Photo (CC) Tarja Mitrovic @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Tarja Mitrovic @ Flickr

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Read the original Spanish, then the English translation in blue

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Las ascuas de una nebulosa

Este es el centro de la galaxia que he construido con mis manos
con sus puntos cardinales alterados después de mis colapsos.
Aquí estoy entonces como una tormenta diminuta
a la hora cuando se estanca el caos bajo mis rodillas
mientras camino aún borracho por mi habitación
y cubro mis heridas en esta oscuridad celeste que me aterra
con estos hábitos de monje hermoso.
Qué remolinos arrastran viejas penas en la larga noche
y así y todo duermo con la cabeza curvada
en las nieblas de Batavia hacia el oriente.
Aquí no hay montes sólo basura atestada en los containers
animales ciegos que permutan sus encéfalos
cada madrugada sin luz entre las nubes
hombres despiertos a la espera de un autobús que ronronea
al alba como asmático.
Este es el centro de la galaxia que he construido con mis manos
y me dispongo ahora a tomar una taza de café junto a mi gato
tal si estuviera en una esquina de Drottningatan o entre los juncos
del Danubio.
Un guerrero olmeca intenta un sacrificio
revolcándose en las ascuas de una nebulosa.
No disparen contra mi hermano que fue un amigo tardío de Borges.
Las separaciones duelen como la llaga que deja una flecha
en el pecho de un colibrí
siempre hay alguien que ama y me asedia con sus besos
aunque suelo amar en los balcones y luego mis colmillos
desgarran dulcemente la presa.
Preferiría estar este domingo en casa de mis padres
escuchando rancheras
o en medio del Sahara con los Tuareg donde todos los perdidos son extraños.
Estuve en Hanoi camino al mar de la China
y vi unas princesas equivocadas lavando sus ropas en el río.
Este es el centro de la galaxia que he construido con mis manos
En este domicilio habitan ratones centenarios que escaparon
de una biblioteca sintiéndose jaguares
No será fácil reconstruir el Paraíso en una sola habitación
con la ayuda de Darwin.
Alguien tendrá que hacerse cargo de mi madre enferma
y quizá zapatee junto a tu puerta con los gitanos de una caravana de saltimbanquis.

The embers of a nebula

This is the centre of the galaxy I built with my own hands.
Since my breakdowns its cardinal points have altered.
So here I am like a tiny storm
chaos grinding to a halt beneath my knees
while I walk about my room still drunk
and in this frightening celestial darkness
wrap my wounds in the robes of a beautiful monk.
The long nights are a maelstrom of sorrows
but I manage to sleep with a twisted neck
in the Batavian mists out east.
No mountains here only containers crammed with trash
sightless creatures swapping brains
early mornings without light among the clouds
men who awaken to wait for a bus that purrs
asthmatically in the dawn.
This is the center of the galaxy I built with my own hands.
I’m about to have a coffee with my cat
as if this were a corner of Drottningatan
or somewhere by the reed beds of the Danube.
An Olmec warrior attempts a sacrifice
and rolls about on the embers of a nebula.
Do not shoot at my brother who was lately a friend of Borges.
Separations hurt like arrow wounds
in the breast of a hummingbird
there is always someone who loves and besieges me with kisses
though I tend to make love on balconies
then rend my prey with gentle fangs.
This Sunday I’d rather be at my parents’ house
listening to rancheras
or deep in the Sahara with the Tuareg where all the lost are strangers.
In Hanoi once en route to the China Sea
I saw some misguided princesses washing their clothes in the river.
This is the centre of the galaxy I built with my own hands.
Hundred-year-old mice convinced they’re jaguars
fled from a library and live at this address.
To remake Paradise with the help of Darwin
won’t be easy in a single room.
Somebody will have to care for my sick mother
and with a caravan of gypsy acrobats
perhaps I’ll tap my feet before your door.

Una calle de Upplands Väsby

                                                                 A Ricardo Donoso

En el suburbio donde vive Ricardo
los copos de nieve se derrumban como ciegos en la calle desierta.
Un fantasma toca su violín bajo el puente de la estación
con plenitud maestra.
Soy yo el que se equivoca de época de y de trenes
con estas maletas que pesan una tonelada.
Perdónenme señoras si dije algo impropio
porque es mi boca la que no calla en un imponderable silencio.
Busco a un hijo que ser extravió en su memoria
y dejó de llamarme padre
aunque la sangre es ligadura y las
distancias separan en la inmensidad de la estepa.
Me equivoco otra vez y tropiezo con una vieja sombra
entonces las congojas se desorientan
en el repaso aquiescente
y escuecen con la obviedad de una garra.
El caos se extingue cuando encuentra su equilibrio
al final del laberinto.
Me comporto con una rata que cava
su madriguera en la densa niebla.
Soy yo – insisto – el que se equivoca de época y de trenes
con estas maletas que pesan una tonelada.
Por eso hablo ahora con la impaciencia de un orate
que sujeta con sus dedos una aureola abandonada.

Suecia. Diciembre 2012

A street in Upplands Väsby

                                                        for Ricardo Donoso

In the suburb where Ricardo lives
snowflakes fall blindly in the deserted street.
A phantom violinist under the station bridge
plays with masterly intensity.
I’m the one who gets his epoch and his trains wrong
with these suitcases that weigh a ton.
Forgive me ladies if I’ve said something improper
my mouth just won’t stay shut in imponderable silence.
I’m looking for a son who got lost in his memory
and ceased to call me father
despite blood ties and
distances that divide in the steppe’s immensity.
I get things wrong again and bump into an old shadow
then in the course of stoic retrospection
erratic anxieties prick
predictably as claws.
Chaos expires when at the labyrinth’s end
it comes to equilibrium.
I behave like a rat who digs
his hole in thick fog.
I’m the one – I repeat – who gets his epoch and his trains wrong
with these suitcases that weigh a ton.
And now I speak with the impatience of a lunatic
whose fingers clutch a disused halo.

Sweden. December 2012

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ABOUT THE POET AND THE TRANSLATOR

Sergio Badilla Castillo was born in Valparaíso, Chile in 1947. He studied journalism at the University of Chile and worked in various media from 1969 until 1973, when, after the Pinochet coup, he was forced into exile, first to Argentina, then to Romania, and finally in 1976 to Sweden. There he took a degree in social anthropology at Stockholm University and worked as a culture journalist on Swedish radio, travelling throughout Europe and North Africa, until returning to Chile in 1993. His publications from this period include Más debajo de mi rama (1980), La morada del Signo (1982), Cantonírico (1983), Reverberaciones de piedras acuáticas (1985) and Terrenales (1989). Publications in Chile include Saga Nórdic (1996), La Mirada Temerosa del Bastardo (2003), Poemas Transreales y Algunos Evangelios (2005), Ciudad Transreal (2009), Ok Atacama (2010). Badilla lives in Santiago where he contines to write and teach. His work has appeared with English translations in two chapbooks, La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head (2012) and Espectros y Sombras / Ghosts and shadows (2013), and in French translations by Patricio Sánchez in Ville assiégée (2010).

Roger Hickin is a New Zealand poet, visual artist, book designer and publisher.  Although he has written and translated poetry and since the late 1960s, for many years his main preoccupation was with sculpture and painting. In the early 2000s poetry began to demand more attention. His Waiting for the Transport (Kilmog Press, Dunedin) and The Situation & other poems (the initial Cold Hub Press chapbook), both appeared in 2009. Roger is the director of Cold Hub Press –  www.coldhubpress.co.nz – which publishes New Zealand poetry as well as international poetry in several languages, including So we lost paradise, a bilingual selected poems of Chilean poet Juan Cameron, and two chapbooks of poems by Sergio Badilla Castillo (in collaboration with the author).

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