Fiona Farrell
Beatriz Hausner
Felisberto Hernández
Neil Langdon Inglis
Pippa Little
Ben Mazer
César Moro
Robin Myers
Hérnan Neira
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Bina Shah
Alejandro Tarrab

Issue 19 Guest Artist:
George Blacklock

President: Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
Senior Editor-at-Large: Neil Langdon Inglis
Deputy Editor: Geraldine Maxwell
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry
Deputy General Editor: Jerónimo Mohar

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Sampurna Chattarji
Sarah Churchwell
Hollis Clayson
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Siobhan Harvey
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Laurie Maguire
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Paschalis Nikolaou
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Molly Peacock
Pascale Petit
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Élisabeth Roudinesco
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
Rebecca Swift
Susan Tiberghien
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Four Poems by César Moro
Translated by Beatriz Hausner


I was a teenager and it was from Ludwig Zeller that I first learned about César Moro. It must have been around the time he acquired the newly published La tortuga ecuestre y otros textos (Ed. Julio Ortega, Monte Avila, 1976), a selection of Moro’s most emblematic poems. I could never have predicted the importance Moro’s work would have on my own trajectory as a poet and as a translator. There is so much that Moro, his example, his brilliant poetry exemplify for so many of us. Foremost is his spirit of revolt, one that would force him away from his native Peru, first to Paris, then to Mexico. Moro lived truly. Moro lived freely. He assumed liberty in all its forms, turning the liabilities of his self-imposed exiles into tools for poetic expression. While in Paris he participated in collective projects of the first surrealist group. Significantly, he assumed the French language as a tool for poetic transformation. In Mexico he organized publications and exhibitions and wrote some of the most nakedly beautiful love poetry of surrealism. Always, however, there was an extra bit of “otherness” in Moro, a separateness that was made all the more complete by the fact of his homosexuality, which he assumed intelligently and entirely, and which enriched his poetics in ways that can only be termed as revolutionary.

The poems presented here form part of a translation project, which I undertook a few years ago with André Coyné’s generous permission. Except for “Love Letter,” which was written in French in 1942 (it was translated into Spanish by Emilio Adolfo Westphalen), the poems form part of a collection titled La tortuga ecuestre, which César Moro wrote in Spanish between 1938 and 1939.

You Come in the Night with Fabulous Smoke in Your Hair

You appear
Life is certain
The smell of the rain is certain
You are born of the rain
It brings you knocking at my door
Oh tree
The city and the seas you sailed
And the night they open at your step
The heart comes back from a distant place and leans out
Until it touches your brow
And beholds your dazzling magic
Like a mountain of gold or of snow
With fabulous smoke in your hair
And the noctural creatures in your eyes
Your body made of burning embers
You water portions of the night
And the blocks of night that fall from your hands
And the silence grows roots at your arrival
And the turmoil and the waves
And the houses that sway
And the wavering light and a harder shadow
Your words like river traffic
No sooner do you come than you are gone
And you want to set my life afloat
Yet merely prepare my death
And the death of waiting
And my dying knowing that you are far away
And the silence and the waiting for time
To live when you come
And you surround me in shadows
And make me luminous
And you plunge me into the phosphorescent sea where your existence unfolds
Where we engage in dialogue you and my dark frightful notion of your being
Star cast off by the apocalypse
Among the bellowing of tigers and tears
Of pleasure and eternal moaning and eternal
Finding of solace in the rarified air
Where I wish to confine you
That I may slip down the slope that is your body
Reach your sparkling feet
Reach your feet made of twin constellations
In the terrestrial night
Which follows you chained and mute
Climbing ivy made of your blood
Holding up your head that is flower of dark crystal
An aquarium that holds the planets the trailing comets
And the power that holds the world that keeps the oceans in steady balance
Your brain made of luminous matter
And my endless adherence and my love being born incessantly
Which wraps itself around you
Which your feet travel
Leaving indelible traces
Where we read the history of the world
And the future of the universe
And the luminous merging of my life
To your existence

Vienes en la noche con el humo fabuloso de tu cabellera

La vida es cierta
El olor de la lluvia es cierto
La lluvia te hace nacer
Y golpear a mi puerta
Oh árbol
Y la ciudad el mar que navegaste
Y la noche se abren a tu paso
Y el corazón vuelve de lejos a asomarse
Hasta llegar a tu frente
Y verte como la magia resplandeciente
Montaña de oro o de nieve
Con el humo fabuloso de tu cabellera
Con las bestias nocturnas en los ojos
Y tu cuerpo de rescoldo
Con la noche que riegas a pedazos
Con los bloques de noche que caen de tus manos
Con el silencio que prende a tu llegada
Con el trastorno y el oleaje
Con el vaivén de las casas
Y el oscilar de luces y la sombra más dura
Y tus palabras de avenida fluvial
Tan pronto llegas y te fuiste
Y quieres ponder a flote mi vida
Y sólo preparas mi muerte
Y la muerte de esperar
Y el morir de verte lejos
Y los silencios y el esperar el tiempo
Para vivir cuando llegas
Y me rodeas de sombra
Y me haces luminoso
Y me sumerges en el mar fosforescente donde acaece tu estar
Y donde sólo dialogamos tú y mi noción oscura y pavorosa de tu ser
Estrella desprendiéndose en el apocalipsis
Entre bramidos de tigres y lágrimas
De gozo y gemir eterno y eterno
Solazarse en el aire rarificado
En que quiero aprisionarte
Y rodar por la pendiente de tu cuerpo
Hasta tus pies centelleantes
Hasta tus pies de constelaciones gemelas
En la noche terrestre
Que te sigue encadenada y muda
Enredadera de tu sangre
Sosteniendo la flor de tu cabeza de cristal moreno
Acuario encerrando planetas y caudas
Y la potencia que hace que el mundo siga en pie y guarde el equilibrio de los
Y tu cerebro de materia luminosa
Y mi adhesión sin fin y el amor que nace sin cesar
Y te envuelve
Y que tus pies transitan
Abriendo huellas indelebles
Donde puede leerse la historia del mundo
Y el porvenir del universo
Y ese ligarse luminoso de mi vida
A tu existencia

Fire and Poetry
On the golden water the sun reflects the zenith’s hand


I love love
On Tuesdays but not on Wednesdays
I love the love of disunited states
Love that is two hundred and fifty years old
Under the negative influence of Judaism on the lives of monks
Love of sugarbirds and of hay, of ice and aluminum love that is pocket-sized
The love I love has a bloody face and two immense doors into the void
Love appearing in two hundred and fifty installments over five years
Love of fragile economy
Like a country endlessly expanding
Over thousands of naked people who are treated like animals
In order to obtain the simplest weapon of love
So crime may stay out late and drink the clear water
From the day’s warm blood


I love a love of thick branches
Wild like a jellyfish
Sacrificial love
Daytime sphere where the entirety of spring
Swings spilling blood
Love made of rings of rain
Of transparent stone
Of mountains that fly and dissipate
That turn into tiny rocks
Love that is like a stabbing
Like a shipwreck
The complete loss of breath and of voice
The kingdom of thick shadows
With its protruding killer eyes
The longest saliva
The anger of losing oneself
The frenzied waking in the middle of the night
Under the storm that leaves undresses us
A distant bolt of lightning turns trees
Into firewood of hair which utters your name:
Days and hours of unending nakedness


I love the fury of losing you
Your absence riding the horse of time
Your shadow and the idea of your shadow
Cast over a field of water
Your kestrel eyes in the hands of time
Undoing me and recreating you
Time dawning leaving me more alone as I come
Out of dream than an anti-diluvian animal lost in the shadows of time
Like a toothless beast running after its prey
Like a kite in the sky evolving with clockwork precision
I see you in a thunderous jungle as I linger over you
With the deadly force of dynamite exploding
I distribute your veins among my selves I drink your blood
And struggle against daylight tearing apart the dawn
I undo the body of death
And time finally belongs to me
And the night catches up to me
And the dream which annuls me devours you
And I can assimilate you like ripe fruit
Like a stone on a island that is sinking


Slow water slow road slow accidents
A descent suspended in mid air a slow wind
The slow passing of slow time
The night does not end and love slows down
The legs cross over slowly knotting they grow roots
The head falls and the arms rise
The bed’s sky its shadow slowly fall
Your dark body like a waterfall slowly falling
Into the abyss
We twist slowly in the hot air of this sizzling room
While the nocturnal butterflies look like large sheep
It would be simple now to slowly destroy each other
To tear out our limbs to drink our blood slowly
Your head spins your legs envelop me
Your armpits and all their hair glow in the night
Your naked legs
Their exact angle
The smell of your legs
The slowness of perception
Alcohol slowly lifts me
The alcohol born of your eyes will later
Grow your shadow
Will tear at my hair as I slowly rise
To your animal lips


The days are pouring the slow waters
Head of hair the golden sand
A volcano returns to its origin
I watch you and I count the hours
Time’s back divinely wounded
A naked amphora cleaves the water
Dew confines your body
To the secret regions of a magic mountain
Covered in doll shoes and business cards of the gods
Asmodeus Nero Caligula Agrippina Louis II of Bavaria
Anthony Cretin Caesar
Your name appears intermittently
Over an immense dough roll
At times it fills the entire horizon
Sometimes it peoples the sky with tiny bees
I can always read it from every direction
As it grows and becomes confused with all the words in its wake
Or becomes just an immense piece of light
Or the furtive stepping of animals in the forest
Or a spider slowly dropping on my head
Or the furious alphabet


The slow water the slow minimal variation
The slow weightless face
A sigh cut slightly
The minuscule pebbles
The imperceptible mountains
The water slowly falling
On the world
Next to your burning kingdom
Behind the walls the space
And nothing but navigable space
The room that rises and falls
The waves do nothing
The dog watches the house
The wolves retreat
The dawn stalks us to deliver its heavy blow
Blind sleeping
A tree has grown taller
In vain I close the windows
I look at the moon
The wind has not stopped calling at my door
The dark life is about to begin

El fuego y la poesía En el agua dorada el sol quemante refleja la mano del cenit


Amo el amor
El martes y no el miércoles
Amo el amor de los estados desunidos
El amor de unos doscientos cincuenta años
Bajo la influencia nociva del judaísmo sobre la vida monástica
De las aves de azúcar de heno de hielo de alumbre o de bolsillo
Amo el amor de faz sangrienta con dos inmensas puertas al vacío
El amor como apareció en doscientas cincuenta entregas durante cinco años
El amor de economía quebrantada
Como el país más expansionista
Sobre millares de seres desnudos tratados como bestias
Para adoptar esas sencillas armas del amor
Donde el crimen pernocta y bebe el agua clara
De la sangre más caliente del día


Amo el amor de ramaje denso
Salvaje al igual de una medusa
El amor-hecatombe
Esfera diurna en que la primavera total
Se columpia derramando sangre
El amor de anillos de lluvia
De rocas transparentes
De montañas que vuelan y se esfuman
Y se convierten en minúsculos guijarros
El amor como una puñalada
Como un naufragio
La pérdida total del habla del aliento
El reino de la sombra espesa
Con los ojos salientes y asesinos
La saliva larguísima
La rabia de perderse
El frenético despertar en medio de la noche
Bajo la tempestad que nos desnuda
Y el rayo lejano transformando los árboles
En leños de cabellos que pronuncian tu nombre
Los días y las horas de desnudez eterna


Amo la rabia de perderte
Tu ausencia en el caballo de los días
Tu sombra y la idea de tu sombra
Que se recorta sobre un campo de agua
Tus ojos de cernícalo en las manos del tiempo
Que me deshace y te recrea
El tiempo que amanece dejándome más solo
Al salir de mi sueño que un animal antediluviano perdido en la sombra de los días
Como una bestia desdentada que persigue su presa
Como el milano sobre el cielo evolucionando con una precisión de relojería
Te veo en una selva fragorosa y yo cerniéndome sobre ti
Con una fatalidad de bomba de dinamita
Repartiéndome tus venas y bebiendo tu sangre
Luchando con el día lacerando el alba
Zafando el cuerpo de la muerte
Y al fin es mío el tiempo
Y la noche me alcanza
Y el sueño que me anula te devora
Y puedo asimilarte como un fruto maduro
Como una piedra sobre una isla que se hunde


El agua lenta el camino lento los accidentes lentos
Una caída suspendida en el aire el viento lento
El paso lento del tiempo lento
La noche no termina y el amor se hace lento
Las piernas se cruzan y se anudan lentas para echar raíces
La cabeza cae los brazos se levantan
El cielo de la cama la sombra cae lenta
Tu cuerpo moreno como una catarata cae lento
En el abismo
Giramos lentamente por el aire caliente del cuarto caldeado
Las mariposas nocturnas parecen grandes carneros
Ahora sería fácil destrozarnos lentamente
Arrancarnos los miembros beber la sangre lentamente
Tu cabeza gira tus piernas me envuelven
Tus axilas brillan en la noche con todos sus pelos
Tus piernas desnudas
En el ángulo preciso
El olor de tus piernas
La lentitud de percepción
El alcohol lentamente me levanta
El alcohol que brota de tus ojos y que más tarde
Hará crecer tu sombra
Mesándome el cabello lentamente subo
Hasta tus labios de bestia


Verte los días el agua lenta
Una cabellera la arena de oro
Un volcán regresa a su origen
Verte si cuento las horas
La espalda del tiempo divinamente llagada
Un ánfora desnuda hiende el agua
El rocío guarda tu cuerpo
En lo recóndito de una montaña mágica
Cubierta de zapatos de muñeca y de tarjetas de visita de los dioses
Armodio Nerón Calígula Agripina Luis II de Baviera
Antonio Cretina César
Tu nombre aparece intermitente
Sobre un inmenso ombligo de panadería
A veces ocupa el horizonte
A veces puebla el cielo en forma de minúsculas abejas
Siempre puedo leerlo en todas direcciones
Cuando se agranda y se complica de todas las palabras que lo siguen
O cuando no es sino un enorme pedazo de lumbre
O el paso furtivo de las bestias del bosque
O una araña que se descuelga lentamente sobre mi cabeza
O el alfabeto enfurecido


El agua lenta las variaciones mínimas lentas
El rostro leve lento
El suspiro cortado leve
Los guijarros minúsculos
Los montes imperceptibles
El cayendo lenta
Sobre el mundo
Junto a tu reino calcinante
Tras los muros el espacio
Y nada más el gran espacio navegable
El cuarto sube y baja
Las olas no hacen nada
El perro ve la casa
Los lobos se retiran
El alba acecha para asestarnos su gran golpe
Ciegos dormidos
Un árbol ha crecido
En vano cierro las ventanas
Miro la luna
El viento no ha cesado de llamar a mi puerta
La vida oscura empieza

The Scandalous Life of César Moro

Disperse me in the rain in the smoke of torrents that pass
Beyond the night where we meet each time they draw aside the clouds
That reveal themselves to the eyes of lovers when they leave
Their sturdy castles whose towers of blood and ice
Tinge the ice and rip through leaping of belated homecomings
My friend the king brings me to the side of his royal and real tomb
Where Wagner guards the door with the faithfulness
Of a dog gnawing at the bone of glory
While intermittent and divinely mournful rains
Wear down the hairdo of the flying streetcar of relapsed homicidal
Sea horses that travel the sublime terrace of apparitions
The solemn carnivorous and bituminous forests
Where strange wanderers get drunk their eyes wide open
Under grand catapults and elephantine heads of cattle
Suspended in Babylonian Trasteverean fashion
The river that crowns your earthly and excessive appearance
Drops furiously like lightning on the vestiges of the day
Deceitful heaping of medals of hackbuts of sponges
Winged bull with significant happiness biting at the breast or dome
Of a temple emerging from the ignominious light of day in the middle of rotten
        and weightless branches the ritual killing of forests

Disperse me in the flight of migratory horses
In the alluvium of ash that crowns the day’s long-lived volcano
In the terrifying vision that follows man as the most wonderful of noon hours
        draws near
And when the boiling dancers are ready to be decapitated
And man grows pale at his feared suspicion of the definitive ghost holding the oracle
        between its teeth which can be read as follows:

A razor over the cauldron slashes a brush with bristles of ultra sensitive dimensions. As daytime draws near the bristles grow until they touch the sunset. At dusk the bristles turn into a cottage of humble and rustic appearance. Above the razor flies a falcon devouring an enigma in the shape of condensed steam. Sometimes it is a basket filled with animal eyes and love letters filled with one letter. Other times, an industrious dog devours a cottage lit from within. The surrounding darkness can be interpreted as an absence of thought brought about by the invisible proximity of a subterranean pond inhabited by tortoises of the first magnitude.

The wind starts to blow over the royal grave
Louis II of Bavaria wakes up surrounded by the rubble of the world
And comes to visit me dragging a dying tiger
Through the surrounding forest
The trees fly in order to become seeds and the forest disappears
And covers itself in creeping mist
A myriad insects now freed deafen the air
As the two of the world’s most beautiful tigers cross our path

La vida escandalosa de César Moro

Dispérsame en la lluvia o en la humareda de los torrentes que pasan
Al margen de la noche en que nos vemos tras el correr de nubes
Que se muestran a los ojos de los amantes que salen
De sus poderosos castillos de torres de sangre y de hielo
Teñir el hielo rasgar el salto de tardíos regresos
Mi amigo el Rey me acerca al lado de su tumba real y real
Donde Wagner hace la guardia a la puerta con la fidelidad
Del can royendo el hueso de la gloria
Mientras lluvias intermitentes y divinamente funestas
Corroen el peinado de tranvía aéreio de los hipocampos relapsos
Y homicidas transitando la terraza sublime de las apariciones
En el bosque solemne carnívoro y bituminoso
Donde los raros pasantes se embriagan los ojos abiertos
Debajo de grandes catapultas y cabezas elefantinas de carneros
Suspendidos según el gusto de Babilonia o del Trastévere
El río que corona tu aparición terrestre saliendo de madre
Se precipita furioso como un rayo sobre los vestigios del día
Falaz hacinamiento de medallas de esponjas de arcabuces
Un toro alado de significativa alegría muerde el seno o cúpula
De un templo que emerge en la luz afrentosa del día o en medio de las ramas
        podridas y leves de la hecatombe forestal

Dispérsame en el vuelo de los caballos migratorios
En el aluvión de escorias coronando el volcán longevo del día
En la visión aterradora que persigue al hombre al acercarse la hora entre todas
        pasmosa del mediodía
Cuando las bailarinas hirvientes están a punto de ser decapitadas
Y el hombre palidece en la sospecha pavorosa de la aparición definitiva trayendo
        entre dientes el oráculo legible como sigue:

Una navaja sobre el caldero atraviesa un cepillo de cerdas de dimensión ultrasensible; a la proximidad del día las cerdas se alargan hasta tocar el crepúsculo; cuando la noche se acerca las cerdas se transforman en una lechería de apariencia modesta y campesina. Sobre la navaja vuela un halcón devorando un enigma en forma de condensación de vapor; a veces es un cesto colmado de ojos de animales y de cartas de amor llenas con una sola letra: otras veces un perro laborioso devora una cabaña iluminada por dentro. La obscuridad envolvente puede interpretarse como una ausencia de pensamiento provocada por la proximidada invisible de un estanque subterráneo habitado por tortugas de primera magnitud.

El viento se levanta sobre la tumba real
Luis II de Baviera despierta entre los escombros del mundo
Y sale a visitarme trayendo a través del bosque circundante
Un tigre moribundo
Los árboles vuelan a ser semillas y el bosque desaparece
Y se cubre de niebla rastrera
Miríadas de insectos ahora en libertad ensodecen el aire
Al paso de los dos más hermosos tigres del mundo

Love Letter

I think of the anguishing holothurians that often surrounded us at the nearing of
when your feet warmer than nests
burned in the night
in a glowing blue light.

I think of your body making sky and supreme mountains from the bed
I think of the only reality
with its valleys and shadows
moisture and marble and black water mirroring the stars
in each of your eyes.

Your smile was it not the echoing forests of my childhood?
Where you not the source
the stone destined centuries ago for me to rest my head on?
I think your face
motionless ember source of the milky way
and this immense sorrow driving me madder than a burning chandelier swaying over
        the sea

Unbearable when I think of you the human voice feels intolerable to me
always the vegetal murmur of your words isolates me in this total night
where you shine with a blackness blacker than the night.
All idea of black is insufficient to express the long hooting of black on black glowing

I will not forget.
But who speaks of forgetting
in the prison where your absence leaves me
the solitude this poems banishes me to
the exile where each hour finds me.

I will not wake up again
I will not resist the onslaught of great waves
that come from the joyful landscape you inhabit.
Outside in the cold of night I walk
the plank placed over us from where we fall.

Stiff with the fear of successive dreams and shaking in the wind
years of dream
mindful of what will be found dead
at the threshold of deserted castles
at the place and time agreed upon but missed
in the fertile plains of paroxysm
conscious of the one object
I will use all my powers to spell
the name once adored
and will follow its hallucinatory transformations.
A sword is already piercing an animal
and a bleeding dove falls at my feet
become rocks of coral buttresses for the remains
of carnivorous birds.

A repeated scream in each and every empty theatre at the start of the inconceivable
A rivulet of water dancing in front of the red velvet curtains
before the floodlights.
Once the orchestra seats have disappeared
I amass treasures of dead wood and hardy leaves of corrosive silver.
Not content with just clapping and yelling
a thousand mummified families make the passing of a squirrel seem evil.

Beloved decoration where I saw a fine rain balancing itself racing swiftly toward the
        ermine fur lining
of a coat left behind in the heat of the fire at dawn
as it tried to direct its grievances to the king.
I open windows over the empty clouds
imploring darkness to drown my face
and erase this indelible ink
and the horror of dream
in courtyards abandoned to pale manic vegetation.
In vain I implore the fire for thirst
in vain I wound the walls
in the distance the precarious curtains of forgetting fall
before a landscape twisting in the storm.

Mexico City, December 1942

Lettre d’amour

Je pense aux holoturies angoissantes qui souvent nous entouraient à l’approche
        de l’aube
quand tes pieds plus chauds que des nids
flambaient dans la nuit
d’une lumière bleue et pailletée

Je pense à ton corps faisant du lit le ciel et les montagnes suprêmes
de la seule réalité
avec ses vallons et ses ombres
avec l’humidité et les marbres et l’eau noire reflétant toutes les étoiles
dans chaque œil

Ton sourire n’était-il pas le bois retentissant de mon enfance
n’étais-tu pas la source
la pierre pour de siècles choisie pour appuyer ma tête ?
Je pense ton visage
immobile braise d’où partent la voie lactée
et le chagrin immense qui me rend plus fous qu’un lustre de toute beauté balancé
        dans la mer

Intraitable à ton souvenir la voix humaine m’est odieuse
toujours la rumeur végétale de tes mots m’isole dans la nuit totale
où tu brilles d’une noirceur plus noire que la nuit
Toute idée de noir es faible pour exprimer le long ululement du noir sur noir
        éclatant ardemment

Je n’oublierai pas
Mais qui parle d’oubli
dans la prison où ton absence me laisse
dans la solitude où ce poème m’abandonne
dans l’exil où chaque heure me trouve

Je ne me réveillerai plus
Je ne résisterai plus à l’assaut des grandes vagues
venant du paysage heureux que tu habites
Resté dehors sous le froid nocturne je me promène
sur cette planche haut placée d’où l’on tombe net

Raidi sous l’effroi de rêves successifs et agité dans le vent
d’années de songe
averti de ce qui finit par se trouver mort
au seuil des châteaux désertés
aux lieu et à l’heure dits mais introuvables
aux plaines fertiles du paroxysme
et de l’unique but
ce nom naguère adoré
je mets toute mon adresse à l’épeler
suivant ses transformations hallucinatoires
Tantôt une épée traverse de part en part un fauve
ou bien une colombe ensanglantée tombe à mes pieds
devenus rocher de corail support d’épaves
d’oiseaux carnivores

Un cri répété dans chaque théâtre vide à l’heure du spectacle inénarrable
Un fil d’eau dansant devant le rideau de velours rouge
aux flammes de la rampe
Disparus les banes du parterre
j’amasse des trésors de bois mort et de feuilles vivaces en argent corrosif
On ne se contente plus d’applaudir on hurle
mille familles momifiées rendant ignoble le passage d’un écureuil

Cher décor où je voyais s’équilibrer une pluie fine se dirigeant rapide sur
d’une pelisse abandonnée dans la chaleur d’un feu d’aube
voulant adresser se doléances au roi
ainsi moi j’ouvre toute grande la fenêtre sur les nuages vides
réclamant aux ténèbres d’inonder ma face
d’en effacer l’encre indélébile
l’horreur du songe
à travers les cours abandonnées aux pâles végétations maniaques

Vainement je demande au feu la soif
vainement je blesse les murailles
au loin tombent les rideaux précaires de l’oubli
à bout de forces
devant le paysage tordu dans la tempête

México, D.F., décembre 1942