Translations from the Spanish by Andrew O’Donnell and Michael Lee Rattigan
It’s necessary to see, to use
no material stranger,
thus, if we want to speak of children
burst open against the trees,
it will be necessary to say it without excluding
the blood that runs down the bark;
it’s not worth the trouble to oust pain
with ideas, better to catch the nervous swellings
brought to the branches;
not to put word and word
where they’ll be led to arm an emptiness.
It’s necessary to avoid substitutes;
yes the meat burns, strength
growls in each impact, shows the trajectory
of each recoil, the red sap of the trees
The lines in that other book you read
tell you that you aren’t safe,
that you never were,
that you never will be safe.
Not the lulling flowers,
nor the highest peaks, where flags
wave in slightly foolish pride,
nor the sea that’s all desire…
nothing, nothing saves you.
Don’t bother re-tuning to the news,
but graffiti your room
with something lovely or something dirty.
but let it say something and mark the walls
that you know so well.
Turn the music up
and decide to set fire to that book,
get up and take the ashes
to Kafka’s tomb.
This quiet animal
looks a bit like me, in its
pool of blood,
almost floating in red, it has
something of me in it.
This animal that’s been crushed,
that’s been given it hard,
and no longer knows if it’s dog or chicken
or plain martyr or what.
It’s silence speaks only to asphalt,
to those eyes that see it while doing nothing;
to those who vomit when they see it.
Something is here,
something of my brightness
in each particle that’s pummeled
by passing wheels
This book is a failure…
I feel it.
Not even a post-Vallejo-esque attempt
but simply a test,
a thing put up with.
The light has gone out of these pages,
they have carried on existing without grace.
But who has the authority to say what poetry is?
Who pulls me out of the idiotwreck?
Who is able to weep with words
to a herd of cattle?
or be spliced into all those orgasmic groans
that go on now?
Here, expecting the earthworms
in this land,
surrounded by bones and
I’ve amputated my language,
the weak, sinuous muscle;
my eyes melt
but for three metres that separate out
the dog shitting on the grass.
I go where I’m not,
I feel inaudible,
wasted, buried in this silence
thronged with worms.
They who rise up and are consumed,
they; the great occurrence, who travel through me,
digging their tunnels.
Alan Mills is a Guatamalan poet. His books have been published in both Guatamala, Mexico and France. They are: ‘Los Nombres Ocultos’, ‘Poemas Sensibles’, ‘Marca de Agua’, ‘Testamentofuturo’, ‘Caja Negra XX 2012’. His ‘y Escalera a Ninguna Parte’ was released this year on Catafixia in Guatamala. His book ‘Syncopes’ is available at the publisher Rouge Inside in French translation.