from Issue #8: Poetry by Blanca Castellón, translated by Roger Hickin

Photo (CC) Daniela @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Daniela @ Flickr

 *

Read the original Spanish, then the English translations in blue.

*

Inútil

A cuenta de qué
esta preocupación
por un completo extraño
que abre y cierra puertas en el súper mercado

gastar energías deseando al sujeto su gran día
que algún cliente de los que entran y salen a montón
descubra en él un talento particular que lo catapulte al estrellato
que al regresar a casa encuentre
un billete premiado en la cuneta
que por esa puerta que ha abierto treinta veces
en lo que llevo yo observando
aparezca sonriendo su artista predilecta
y le dedique el milagro de un abrazo

porque no centro mi atención en asuntos productivos
mientras espero a Luis en mi automóvil
frente a la plaza de compras mas agitada de Managua
donde un trabajador intenta ganar el sustento
a costa de arrastrar la pesada cadena de naderías

para que puede servir mi observación extrema
en que puede ayudar mi propuesta imaginaria a la vida ajena
en que podría serle útil este poema
a un Perico de Los Palotes
que ha capturado mi afecto pasajero.

A waste of time

Why this concern
with a total stranger
who opens and shuts doors at the supermarket

why bother hoping he has a great day
that some customer amongst those who throng in and out
will see in him a special talent that catapults him to stardom
that on his way home he’ll find
a winning lottery ticket in the gutter
that through the door
I’ve watched him open thirty times
his favourite actress will enter smiling
and (o miracle!) grant him a great big hug

why don’t I concentrate on something worthwhile
as I wait in the car for Luis
in front of the busiest shopping mall in Managua
where a worker attempts to earn a living
hauling the heavy chain of trivia

only to be exposed to my intense observation
an accessory to my imagining of another’s life
in which this poem might be of use
to an Everyman
who has won my fleeting affection.

.

*

.

Trepanación virtual

Dan ganas de sacarse
el cerebro de la cabeza

meterlo en la tina del baño
con agua tibia
sales minerales
y burbujas aromáticas

contemplar desde afuera la corteza
con el manto de tejido nervioso
que cubre los hemisferios

fascinados ante semejante espectáculo gris

esperando que brote
entre sus 100.000 millones de neuronas
–– tantas como estrellas de nuestra galaxia ––
un poema rojo
muy rojo
como gota de sangre infantil

un poema verde
tipo reserva de Bosawas

mientras descansamos
de los pensamientos
mientras pasan las guerras
y las hambrunas

mientras llega una epidemia
que extermine a los corruptos

mientras el combate mental
nos da una tregua.

Virtual trepanation

You want to remove
the brain from the head

put it in a bathtub
of warm water
mineral salts
and fragrant bubbles

study the cortex from the outside
with its layer of nerve tissue
covering the hemispheres

–– such a gray spectacle is irresistible ––

awaiting the emergence from among its
100,000 million neurons
–– as many as the stars in our galaxy ––
of a red poem
a really red one
like a drop of child’s blood

a poem as green as
Bosawas rain forest

while we rest
from thinking
while wars
and famines happen

while an epidemic strikes
that wipes out the corrupt

while there’s a lull
in mental strife.

.

*

.

Una de cuatro (una pared propia)

Es importante tener una pared
construirla con
lo que tengamos a mano
alzarla hasta que roce la utopía

es importante tener una pared
abrir ahí el aire cuando falten ventanas
colgar el sol cuando sobren tormentas
es importante tener una pared para detener
poemas en fuga

es importante que una pared
sirva de pecho cuando sea necesario
o de pizarra para calcular lo que va quedando
a favor nuestro en la ecuación de libertad

es importante tener una pared

para frenar una traición
estrellar palabras huecas
sostener a la patria
fundar una republica

es importante tener una pared

una aunque sea
de aquellas cuatro
de Joaquín Pasos
que cierre cuerpos y sea eterna

a la vez reversible y portátil
dispuesta a la mudanza
cómplice del silencio
cascarón del honor.

One of four (a wall of one’s own)

It’s important to have a wall
to use what’s at hand
to construct it
to raise it up to reach utopia

it’s important to have a wall

to access air when windows are lacking
to hang the sun on after too many storms
it’s important to have a wall
to keep in truant poems

it’s important a wall
when required to can act as a breast
or a blackboard to show what remains to us
when freedom’s equation’s worked out

it’s important to have a wall

to stop treachery in its tracks
to shatter empty words on
to defend the motherland
to set up a republic

it’s important to have a wall

even one of the four
that Joaquín Pasos spoke of
that will close up bodies
and last forever

reversible and portable too
ready for change
silence’s accomplice
of honour – the shell.

.

*

.

Traducciones verdes

No entendés
el lenguaje de la huerta

como vas a traducir
la hierba buena
el cilantro
el chile Congo
con los ojos
virados al desierto

jamás entrarás al
cante verde
ni hondo

ni serás capaz
de interpretar
la sal del cuerpo

podrás, si acaso
acariciar un día muerto

un valle seco

el brote de agua
lo tengo yo

no se diga mas

y que estallen en luz
las veraneras.

Interpreting green

You don’t know
the language of the garden

how will you interpret
mint
cilantro
chile Congo
with eyes turned
to the desert

green song
deep song
will be barred to you forever

you’ll be powerless
to explain
the body’s salt

just possibly you’ll get
to touch a lifeless day

a dried-up valley

I’ve got
the water’s gush

let’s leave it at that

and let the bougainvillea
dazzle us.

.

*

.

Febrero

Los cadáveres que planté
hace años en mi memoria
han empezado a florecer
con tinta sobre hoja blanca

la escarcha del tiempo no fue
capaz de malograr su estela

los perros aún merodean
sus cosas personales
un zapato que guardé para
conservar el arco del pie amado

ese pie quizá se ha convertido
en flor pendiente de un arbusto
o Jacinto en el pelo de la muchacha que
hoy día busca ser nombrada
como la muchacha de los Jacintos.

Febrero no es el mes mas cruel
le dicen el mes del amor

yo prefiero llamarlo
como dijo un poeta de mi país
el mes joven:
que muere corto de días

y ya ven hoy mis cadáveres
tienen ganas de florecer
antes de que muera el mes
arrastrado en sus vientos.

Viene llegando el sol
me retiro a saludarlo

aquí dejo
cadáveres en flor
y una disculpa a Eliot
por evocar sus versos
sin consulta previa.

February

Corpses planted
in memory long ago
have begun to bloom
ink on a blank page

the frost of time could not
obliterate their traces

dogs go on turning over
their belongings
a shoe I’ve kept preserves the arch
of a beloved foot

the foot perhaps
is now a flower on a bush
a hyacinth in the hair of a girl
whose wish is to be named
the Hyacinth Girl.

February is not the cruellest month
it’s the month of love they say

together with a poet of my country
the young month
is what I’d call it: the one
that dies short of days

and you can see my corpses
are keen to bloom today
before winds haul the month off
to its death.

When the sun arrives
I’ll go to greet it

and leave behind
corpses in flower
and apologies to Eliot
for invoking his verses
without asking first.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET AND TRANSLATOR

BLANCA CASTELLÓN (b.1958) is a celebrated Nicaraguan poet whose books include Ama del espíritu (1995), Flotaciones (1998), Orilla opuesta (2000), Los juegos de Elisa (2005) and Cactus body (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2014) a bilingual chapbook of recent poems which was launched at the 10th Festival Internacional de Poesía, Granada, Nicaragua in 2014. A bilingual English/Spanish selected poems is in preparation. Her poetry has been described as “both as light as foam and as sharp as a cut-throat razor” (Rogelio Guedea).

ROGER HICKIN is a New Zealand translator, poet, visual artist and publisher. His much-praised Cold Hub Press – coldhubpress.co.nz – publishes contemporary New Zealand and international poetry. He has published two collections of his own poetry, and translations of a number of Latin American poets, the most recent being Mexican poet Rogelio Guedea’s Si no te hubieras ido / If only you hadn’t gone. 

Advertisements

New Double Issue launch on 10 April!

Contrappasso Double Issue, April 2015

Contrappasso Double Issue, April 2015

*

Roll camera…

Contrappasso starts its 4th year with a DOUBLE ISSUE.

Writers at the Movies, edited by Matthew Asprey Gear and guest Noel King, brings together many kinds of artists who have been captivated by film: its imagery, history, personalities and political edge. Across essays, fiction, poetry, interviews and photography, the contributors are James Franco, Emmanuel Mouret, Sarah Berry, Barry Gifford, Michael Atkinson, Luc Sante, R. Zamora Linmark, Richard Lowenstein, Anthony May, Michael Eaton, Jon Lewis, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Scott Simmon, Clive Sinclair and the late, great Richard Hugo.

Companion issue Contrappasso #8 takes the journal’s adventures in international writing further and wider, with its biggest selection of new fiction and poetry, from nine countries.

There’s an interview with Filipino authors F. H. Batacan and Andrea Pasion-Flores, plus stories by Pasion-Flores, US authors Rick DeMarinis and Kent Harrington and, in a Contrappasso first, a long-overdue translation of Argentine modernist author Roberto Arlt (with translator Lucas Lyndes)…

…plus the most poetry in any Contrappasso issue, with work by Nicaragua’s Blanca Castellón (translated by New Zealand’s Roger Hickin), Spain’s Alicia Aza (translated by J. Kates), China’s Lu Ye and Geng Xiang (translated by Ouyang Yu), New Zealand’s Kerrin P. Sharpe and Mary Macpherson, the UK’s Bill Adams and Richard Berengarten, the USA’s Floyd Salas and J. Kates, and Australia’s Elias Greig, Philip Hammial, Travis McKenna, Sascha Morrell, Tony Page, Sarah Rice, Frank Russo, Page Sinclair, Alex Skovron, Paolo Totaro, Lyn Vellins, Luke Whitington – and one of the last poems by the late, much-missed Morris Lurie.

This Contrappasso DOUBLE ISSUE presents the most writers so far, across the widest range of fields.

And… cut.

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

*

Read the original Spanish, then the English translation in blue

*

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

* * *

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).

Special: Roger Hickin on Sergio Badilla Castillo (Issue #3)

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr

*

Issue 3 of Contrappasso features a selection of work by Chilean poet Sergio Badilla Castillo, translated by New Zealand poet, artist and publisher Roger Hickin in collaboration with the author. Roger has written this short description of Badilla’s work especially for this blog, as a guide to his main themes and many variations.

*

Sergio Badilla Castillo (b. Valparaíso, Chile, 1947) is a poet who, to borrow Ben Belitt’s words about Pablo Neruda, “makes a discipline of . . . [his] excesses”. Such was Badilla’s talent as a young man, he was hailed as Neruda’s heir apparent, and like Neruda’s his poetry is mercurial, oneiric, protean, torrential. Like his literary forebear too, Badilla is a nomad (his real father was a sailor), a pirate whose poems are studded with vivid images and graphic incidents ransacked from the accumulated wealth of world history and culture. On a deeper level, he is a latter-day shaman who throws himself into perilous journeys to report back on the chaos at the heart of things, transmuting his observations and experiences, jostling and blending reality and myth, certainty and uncertainty, beauty and horror, in hallucinatory, “transreal” poems that disrupt the linear coherence of past, present and future, encompassing multiple dimensions and temporalities in a single parachronic glance, whose aim is ultimately the “uchronic” (cf. “utopian”) release from the tyranny of time as the salt-grain of the lyric “I” disperses with all else into the waters of eternity.

Two bi-lingual chapbooks of Badilla’s poems––La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head  and Espectros y Sombras / Ghosts and shadows, with translations by Roger Hickin and the author––have recently been published in New Zealand by Cold Hub Press, www.coldhubpress.co.nz

 *

ABOUT THE WRITER

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).

from Issue #3: Poetry by Sergio Badilla Castillo, translated by Roger Hickin and the author (I)

Photo (CC) Max Pfandl @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Max Pfandl @ Flickr

*

Read the original Spanish, then the English translation in blue

*

La noche es peligrosa en el Cairo

Me pregunto que hará Mahfuz
en su habitación (a estas horas) cuando no relumbra el sol
en sus ojos tristes.
Unos viejos barbiluengos juegan a las damas
injertados en los cuadros del tablero en el café Horiya.
Cuatro extranjeros blondos (¿alemanes?) flirtean
con unos adolescentes de tez obscura en la mesilla vecina.
Uno ríe y pide un cigarrillo a un cuarentón bronceado
que también ríe.
Es febrero del 2002 y el cosmos cuántico está allí mismo en Giza
en una tormenta de arena en el Sakkara
virtualmente en el lugar de mi nacimiento y de mi muerte.
La máscara dorada de un joven faraón me desconsuela
porque era escaso su saber sobre el hechizo de Amón
que hilvana el tiempo.
Qué hora es en este instante en El Missaha Square
cuando hipan los camellos a un costado de Cheops y la Esfinge
y los creyentes se arrodillan para alcanzar a Dios en sus plegarias.
Mohammed –el guía– se expresa en un español cáustico.
¡Qué importan las tonalidades cervantescas en medio del páramo!
La noche es peligrosa en Shubra Al Khaymah
y desvarío con las sombras
mientras los proxenetas despojan de sus ajuares a las odaliscas del templo.
¡Alá Uajbar! ¡Alá Uajbar! suenan plañideros los altavoces
desde un alminar de la Mezquita Azul.
Una vacuidad ante un Dios ausente o transitoriamente sordo.
Un pastor irreverente aventura su rebaño en medio del tráfico
entre bocinazos y gritos.
Hace frío a estas horas en la ciudad del Nilo verde.
Los muertos moran en la Citadel en un sólo condominio con los vivos.
¡Alá Uajbar! ¡Alá Uajbar! rebota el clamor de los devotos
en la Mezquita Azul desde el mismo minarete.
Vuelvo a preguntarme entonces––  qué hará Mahfuz
en su habitación (a estas horas) cuando no resplandece el sol
en sus ojos tristes.

Night is dangerous in Cairo

I wonder what Mahfouz is doing
in his room (so late) without the sun’s dazzle
in his sad eyes.
A few greybeards play checkers
planted at the boards in the Café Horiya.
At the next table four blonde foreigners (Germans?) flirt
with some dark-skinned adolescents.
One laughs and cadges a cigarette
from a tanned forty-something guy who’s laughing too.
It’s February 2002 and the quantum cosmos is right here in Giza
in a sand storm in Sakkara
in effect at the place of my birth and death.
The golden mask of a young pharaoh distresses me
so thin was his knowledge of Amon’s sorcery
which stitches time together.
What hour is it just now in El Missaha Square
as camels cough alongside Cheops and the Sphinx
and believers kneel to supplicate their God.
Mohammed –the guide– expresses himself in caustic Spanish.
Who cares about Cervantian nuances in the midst of a wasteland!
Night is dangerous in Shubra Al Khaymah
and I babble with the shades
as pimps strip the temple’s odalisques of their trousseaus.
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! is the loudspeakers’ plaintive wail
from a minaret of the Blue Mosque.
Emptiness before a God either absent or temporarily deaf.
In the thick of traffic an irreverent shepherd risks his flock
among shouts and blasting horns.
It’s cold now in the city of the green Nile.
In a single condominium in the Citadel the dead dwell with the living.
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! The clamour of the faithful
echoes in the Blue Mosque from the same minaret.
Again I wonder what Mahfouz is doing
in his room (so late) without the sun’s radiance
in his sad eyes.

* * *

Año del reptil

No recuerdo cuantos hijos tuve
ni cuantos infantes perdí en esa guerra.
Si la luz perdura entonces soy una sombra que no existe.
Estamos a fines de mayo en el año de la lagartija
cuando el otoño me enciende la mirada
al tropezar con la turgencia de tus pechos sarracenos.
Las cenizas caen de la noche luego de desertar del fuego
mientras deambulo como un fugitivo por estas calles de Agnefit.
El infinito es una matriz en incansable ensanchamiento
como el hijo que navega silencioso en tus abismos.
No recuerdo cuando hijos tuve
ni cuantos infantes perdí en esa guerra.
Allí / por qué callarlo /  se asomaba el paria manilargo
con su morral repleto de serpientes y parábolas
y entre las murallas un francotirador
apuntaba su rifle buscando mi cabeza
con escrupulosa precisión
para que no escuchara sus pasos.
Si las sombras murmuran entonces soy un fuego que se extingue.

Year of the reptile

I‘ve forgotten how many children were mine
how many infants I lost in that war.
If the light persists I’m a shadow without reality.
We’re at the end of May in the year of the lizard
and autumn inflames my gaze as it collides
with your lavish Saracen breasts.
Ash has abandoned the fire and falls from the night
as I wander, fugitive, these streets of Agnefit.
Infinity is a relentlessly expanding matrix
like the child who sails silent in your depths.
I’ve forgotten how many children were mine
how many infants I lost in that war.
Over there / why keep quiet about it / the lewd-fingered pariah would turn up
with his bagful of snakes and parables
and within the walls a sniper
taking care to make no sound
aimed his rifle at my head.
If the shadows whisper then I‘m a dying fire.

* * *

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).