from Issue #4: Poetry by Rogelio Guedea, translated by Megan Saltzman

Photo (CC) Dennis Jarvis @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Dennis Jarvis @ Flickr

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The original Spanish version of each poem appears first, followed by its translation in blue.

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Celebración de la garza

La poesía no sirve para salvarte. Para salvar a nadie.
La poesía no sirve para cruzar un río,
para enredar una magnolia en una oreja no sirve.
Tampoco sirve para subir a un autobús sin pagar.
Para entrar en el cine por el ojo de la alcantarilla no sirve para eso la poesía.
Tampoco sirve
para levantar un muro que detenga el mar.
No sirve de asiento en los trenes, de almohada en los aviones altos,
la poesía tampoco sirve para enamorar a la niña del apartamento contigo,
si crees que sirve para eso estás equivocado.
No sirve para eso, loco.
La poesía no es un analgésico para que puedas dormir.
No sirve para quitarte el insomnio, antes te da más, antes te aprieta
las mandíbulas.
Tampoco sirve para salvarte de la multa policial. Ni siquiera del anuncio
diciendo ocupado en un baño público.
La poesía sólo se salva a sí misma. No a ti, no a tu abuelita,
ella misma es la salvadora de su propia voluntad.
Se escribe para salvarse, te utiliza como a un guante viejo para salvarse,
va ocupando tu cuerpo, tus manos, tus ojos, tu nariz.
Va ocupándote hasta que te hace desaparecer.
Un día te preguntas y ya no estás, la casa desmantelada,
las ventanas cerradas.
Un letrero que dice: Se vende. Para mayores informes.

Celebration of the Heron 

Poetry is not for saving yourself. Not for saving anybody.
Poetry is not for crossing a river,
not for tangling a magnolia in an ear.
Nor is it for riding a bus without paying.
To enter the cinema through the manhole, poetry is not for that either. 
Nor is it for
raising a wall to hold back the sea.
It’s no good as a train seat, as a pillow on high-altitude airplanes,
poetry is not for making the girl in the apartment next door fall in love with you,
if you think that’s what it’s for, you’re mistaken.
It is not for that, stupid.
Poetry is not a painkiller to help you sleep.
It won’t take away your insomnia, instead it would make it worse, it would
tighten your jaw.
Nor will it save you from a police fine.  Not even from the sign
that reads busy in a public bathroom.
Poetry only saves itself.  Not you, or your grandma,
it is the saviour of its own free will.
It writes itself to save itself, it uses you like an old glove to save itself, it starts
occupying your body, your hands, your eyes, your nose.
Occupying you until it makes you disappear.
One day you wonder and you’re not there, the house dismantled,
the windows closed.
A sign that says: For sale. Inquire for more information.

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*

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Reminder

Una mujer no se hace con la sombra de la primavera,
tampoco se hace una mujer como tu hombro con un trozo de la noche
que olvidaste.
Ni con el alero de una casa de campo, tampoco
con la mano que lleva puesto un guante.
Una mujer como tu cuerpo que nace no se hace cinco minutos
antes de salir al trabajo. En medio del desayuno: no.
Ni durante el almuerzo con los colegas tampoco.
Una mujer es otra cosa distinta a una espalda recargada contra un árbol.
Es una garza distinta.
Y no se hace escribiéndola día a día, o borrándola noche a noche,
ni siquiera pensándola se hace,
no es una fecha en que debamos encontrarnos
ni un pañuelo blanco largo para despedirse.
Una mujer es siempre otra cosa,
más allá de lagos o edificios está,
no le aseguran la vida un seguro de vida o una cuenta bancaria,
una jubilación o una casa en renta,
nadie podría intimidarla con una navaja de rasurar
o enternecerla con un ramo de rosas blancas.
Una mujer no existe porque tú existes,
no se hace con lo que eres o no eres,
no te pertenece.
Una mujer es simplemente un hombre de buenos modales,
lo quieras o no, y siempre te permitirá caer, a ti primero,
en el siguiente abismo.

Reminder

A woman doesn’t become with the shadow of spring,
nor does she become a woman like your shoulder with a chunk of the night
that you forgot.
Nor with the eaves of a country house, nor
with the hand that wears a glove.
A woman like your body that’s being born doesn’t become five minutes
before leaving for work.  In the middle of breakfast: no.
Not during lunch with her colleagues either.
A woman is something different than a back leaning against a tree.
She is a different heron.
And she doesn’t become by writing about her day by day, or deleting her night by night,
not even thinking about her does she become,
she is not a date when we should meet
nor a white handkerchief for waving goodbye.
A woman is always something else,
she is beyond the lakes or buildings,
life insurance or a bank account cannot assure her life,
retirement or a rental home,
no one could intimidate her with a cut-throat razor
or soften her with a bouquet of white roses.
A woman does not exist because you exist,
she doesn’t transform with what you are or are not,
she doesn’t belong to you.
A woman is simply a man with good manners,
whether you want it or not, and she’ll always allow you to fall, you first,
into the next abyss.

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 *

cerezas

para traer su testimonio, trayéndolo como arrastrado
……lago sin su mirlo,
…………………………….y vuelto a nacer crecido en pie con su fulgor,
su mano, su quijada, su pájaro cerrado,
……………………………………………………..otro palito su cuchara lejos
far away pero silente astro que no ves, pie girando alrededor
………del astro,
……………………..todo arco para empezar del uno al dos del dos
al casi,
…………juntura de su aroma, remedando al riachuelo de la virgen santa
del pueblo de José,
………………………….que se la comía (a mordiscones): Suchitlán, 1996.
un estanque,
…………………una piedra ciega de su traslación,
……………………………………………………………..una palabra que es y otra
que habita su silencio, junto, agazapadamente/
y entonces
…………………(New Zealand, 2006)
……………………………………………comenzar su ligazón: país, mujer,
trenes puentes vías (sic)
…………………………………y una ventana: asomándose para medir la distancia
del aire de su pie a su pie,
…………………………………..del vuelo de su ojo a su ojo,
de su mano que escribe pie y ojo a su mano que calla reclinada contra
…………el viento,
su dama:
……………….su vieja estación sin profecías,
………………………………………………………………again.

cherries

in order to bring his testimony, dragging it through
…….a lake without its blackbird,
…………………………………..and again born already grown standing up with its glow,
his hand, his jawbone, his closed bird,
………………………………………………………….another handle its spoon far away
lejos but noiseless star that you don’t see, foot spinning around
…………the star,
……………………….all arch in order to start from the one to the two from the two
to almost,
…………..junction of its smell, imitating the stream of the holy virgin
from the town of José,
………………………………..who used to eat it up (big bites): Suchitlán, 1996.
a creek,
………………..a rock blind from its movement,
………………………………………………………………..a word that is and another
that lives its silence, together, crouched down/
and then
……………………..(New Zealand, 2006)
…………………………………………………..to begin his bond: country, woman,
trains bridges routes (sic)
………………………………….and a window: looking out to measure the distance
of the air from his foot to his foot,
………………………………………………….of the flight from his eye to his eye,
of his hand that writes foot and eye to his hand that hushes leaning against
…………..the wind,
his lady:
………………………his old station without prophecies,
………………………………………………………………………………otra vez.

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 *

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enclaves

buscando sus partes del otro lado de la acera:
………….su mano,
………………………..la calle de su pie,
………………………………………………..un ojo mirándole llorar
en lo distante
………………………..(yendo aquí, viniendo allá):
……………………………………………………………………..y luego, en la esquina
exacta,
………….el hombro asido a su ramaje, su círculo de mares infinitos,
…………………..su caracol arriba
………………………………………….y desde abajo:
recuperando árboles y muros, relojes o cornisas, un barco
que pasaba llevándolo,
………………………………traído hacia su garza/

con un anzuelo en los límites del agua, río sin equipaje ni versos
……….de don jorge
………………………….(todos los ríos van a dar…),
…………………………………………………………………y una ola cae,
cayendo otra ensenada//

……………………atado a sus abismos (un abismo puede ser también
la suma de dos casas)
……………………………..y a su sombra (una sombra sin pijama ni martillo),
recorriendo los pasillos de la memoria,
…………………………………………………………….su ruta incierta,
un día y más allá,
……………………….hasta llegar (su mano) a mi país,
para decir –de nuevo, otra vez-:
………………………………………….padre,
……………………………………………………..estos huecos que dejaste.

enclaves

searching for his parts from the other side of the sidewalk:
………….his hand,
………………………..his foot’s street,
………………………………………………..an eye watching him cry
in the distance
……………………….(going here, coming there):
………………………………………………………………….and then, on the corner
exact,
…………….the man clutching his branches, his circle of infinite seas,
………………………..his shell above
………………………………………………….and from below:
recovering tress and walls, watches and cornices, a boat
that was passing by carrying it,
………………………………………..brought towards its heron/

with a fishhook in the water’s limits, river without luggage or
………….don jorge’s verses
……………………………………..(all the rivers are going to end up…)
…………………………………………………………………………………………..and a wave falls,
falling another inlet//

………………………tied to its abysses (an abyss can also be
the sum of two houses)
………………………………….and to its shadow (a shadow without pajamas or hammer),
retracing the corridors of memory,
…………………………………………………………his uncertain path,
one day and beyond,
…………………………………..until (his hand) arrives at my country,
in order to say –again, anew-:
………………………………………father,
………………………………………………………these holes you left.

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***

ABOUT THE POET AND THE TRANSLATOR

Rogelio Guedea (Mexico, 1974) is a poet, essayist, novelist and translator. He is the author of forty books of poetry, essays, narrative, interviews and translations. Some of his recent books are: Mine fields (Aldus, 2013), Life in the rear window and other portable stories (Lectorum, 2012), Wristwatch: a chronicle of the Mexican poetry (19th and 20th Century) (UNAM, 2011) and The crime of Los Tepames (Random House Mondadori, 2013), a bestseller in Mexico. He is editing a critical history of 19th and 20th Century Mexican poetry, which will bring together 40 international scholars and will be published by Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes and the Fondo de Cultura Económica. He is a columnist for the Mexican newspapers El Financiero and La Jornada Semanal and currently the coordinator of the Spanish Programme at the University of Otago.

Since 2012, Megan Saltzman has taught and conducted research on Spanish language, culture and urban studies at West Chester University, near Philadelphia. Her main interest lies in how we—through our urban milieu—construct ideas regarding social identity, history and political potential. She is currently working on a book that focuses on contemporary Barcelona titled Public Everyday Space. She has published articles on urban nostalgia, alternative spaces of resistance in the city, and most recently on urban immigration and globalization in Spanish documentaries. Before moving to West Chester, Megan spent nine years teaching and researching in a variety of different places—Dunedin, New Zealand; Barcelona, Spain; Grinnell, Iowa; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Tokyo, Japan. She enjoys photography, textiles, languages, and wandering around cities. courses.wcupa.edu/MSaltzman/

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