Santiago Vizcaino

Translated from Spanish by Alexis Levitin

HANDS IN THE GRAVE

XVI

 

 

Maybe meaning is in gazing till it hurts.

Or in stumbling over the halo of a dream.

Or in letting yourself be carried along

like an abject creature

surrounded by oppression and misery.

 

But how to know where to crawl

or how to turn to snow,

to bloody torridness.

 

 

XVII

 

 

I offer the pupil of my eye,

my right leg,

but memory moves away from us,

that stinging in the gut,

that damned tattoo.

 

I could delay the fall,

the ashes, the abyss.

My flesh will surely have

the smell of fields,

of resignation.

 

 

XVIII

 

 

What can we do with ourselves if not console each other,

make of this emptiness a sentence,

discipline hatred,

fill this space with fragmented visions.

 

How futile getting up with this foggy soliloquy,

this sandglass under one’s arm.


XIX

 

 

Here I lie down,

here I get up,

a way of putting it,

for I see nothing but gangrenous bodies,

nothing but vultures waiting for an exquisite corpse.

And they look like inoffensive little birds to me.

And I give them to eat from my leg,

from the flesh of my leg,

from the bone of my back.

 

 

- - - - - -

Santiago Vizcaíno's first book of poetry, Destruction in the Afternoon, from which these poems are drawn, won the Premio Proyectos Literarios Nacionales award from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Culture. He only began sending out his work a year ago, but already 22 of these poems have appeared in or are about to appear in Bitter Oleander, Connotation Press, Dirty Goat, Lake Effect, Per Contra, Saranac Review, and Words Without Borders. The poet is twenty-eight years old.

Alexis Levitin's translations have appeared in well over 250 magazines, including APR, Grand Street, Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review and Prairie Schooner. His thirty-one books include Clarice Lispector's Soulstorm and Eugenio de Andrade's Forbidden Words, both from New Directions. His most recent book is Brazil: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Whereabouts, 2010). His next book will be Salgado Maranhao's Bloody Sun (Milkweed Editions, 2011).

 

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