Four poems by Heriberto Yépez translated by Nathaniel Tarn (redux)



An untoward alliance

of words.

A prosti-code of our time

(an era which is scarcely maternal).


An age pusillanimous or absurd


What would Homer have said

had he seen this movie?


Would he have been anguished by this rape?


Or would he not even have been restored

by the very existence of Virgil?






inhabitation. The night of history

will mix its mists

with the night of your life.


Mammalian technology.

Emetic vulva, mine.


In the underworld, the sole of your foot

is looked on with terror.

(Horror pedal of the sycophantic god)


Every monad, sarcastic, sings

its farewell. Obscure



Before, you separated from the beast.

Now you separate from the human.


Don’t add to your problems.

You will fit into the new ironic uterus.


You are not far from yourself.

You don’t need to shout.





You’re speaking a belated language.

                           The interminable is impossible for you now.


     Talking to you of a wood would be talking to you of a wilderness.


) It’s a reference to a decade (


/// The tree you can’t tell from the universe because it occupies an equal space

/// in its arborescent will

/// it immerges its leaves to the trunk’s core

/// turns its leaf veins a periplum of cortices

/// and from every dry leaf: planks that bury themselves in the depthless

/// like fruit turned to dry lumber


In a rubber sweat throws arms or opens breaches


(The spiral searches for a substantive, a whom so it can happen).


          Do you know the sign of being lost in thought? The sign of the lumberyard which survives solidly, oxidized to its best red, until being struck [in its permanence] and made absolute black dust [in a single moment]?

          Do you know the sign of the orange? (An orange which falls from no tree).

          Any language is. a. belated. language. I’m telling you.

          And languages are always humid, always parched (you tell me).

          In the beginning neither were there rotten grapefruit, you add

          Nor were there any translations or paraphrases.


                                                 What political gospel? What terrors?


          What is the price of this absolute order, this path which (now) cannot be taken blind

          You now speak a belated language, you repeat, you (“now”) speak a recognizable language.

          You have become intelligible – like caverns.

          Mystery has parted ways with you. Of the other you only know the one.

          You pretend to escape from every text to another text. Consequently you love anamnesia.

          The decade you refer to is reached intermittently. It is a decade which was interpolated so that some travelers (ulterior ones) could exist, could attach their lives to it, while in other decades (shipwrecks).

          In the dialogue, Penelope –

          Having wanted to make of the other voice a feminine one (latent).

          Those voices we believed reached their targets (were predicates    we had no memory of).


          When a fly insists on a face, it signifies a visit. Flies that are playful stones, paratactical humors, shards of a capricornian order.


          Recent refugees from the intelligible. Peregrinations to the unresolved (for now) encountering non-rhythms.


          They will create dialects whose use will be to be understood by one of their speakers.


          Each time that two gestures coincide and a signified might arise, or a third speaker deduces some coherence, large black stones will seal three or four, who (‘the isness of their existences) will be condemned [prisoners] to keep silent [consciously – regarding what they knew].

          [In total obscurity they will hide their construction of a communicable language]

          [like the tide passes over its already millenary timetable]

          Geometries exigent for those that surfeit has reciprocally [wiped



          [And they wrote] the tribulationed [distanced from any community or seduction via shared signals] so as not to look like anything in their outlines [they wrote] in private codes, in scrawls directed to no language, but they provoked so many strange glances [oblique, slanting] that the tribulationeds’ outlines became ever more similar – and the secret of chesstongue died.


          And whatever was unknown openly disseminated in its best color red, in its highest tower.


          We are everything that is black on white.


          And we become only the will to reply.


          History is not cyclical but its form is scroll-like.













Between this moment and the other

a limbo occurred.


This limbo (both)

we call it “oblivion.”


Second step: 

Situating oneself in “oblivion.”


Camp in no one’s zone

or shattering of time.


Methodological subsequence: 

Once settled in (now solitary sun)

Realizes the most meticulous of studies

Next to the passage

Which governs existence


Now that you sit in your parenthesis,

I’m talking to you of the moment,

of the interval (infuriating)


In which a being (myself)

(He who laid on you


this errand)

Becomes (from one moment to the next) deplorable.


Parameters of the results: 

Once written the report

Delineating, detailed, then,

Bring me your epilogue –

no hurry, time doesn’t run here –

(Here all is space)

Bring it to me in this meantime

where I now live (wary)

Bring it here // to me

in any case distant.


Explain to me, you who appreciate

Morosely, from outside, how

it happened that, from one moment to the next,

For you, for her, for the world

I became deplorable.


Once the job done, you’ll be able to proclaim

To the four corners of the universe

Posted in the pure center of the quincunx

That you have solved the mystery.


You managed to explain to a man


what “oblivion” is.


[Heriberto Yepez has emerged in recent years as a major figure in contemporary Mexican writing. His poetry, fiction, & translations, as well as his critical & theoretical writings, are not easily confined within generic boundaries, & his collaborations with other artists & theorists reveal an intellectual & creative fluency in multiple artistic languages. His work, translated into English, has also reached into the United States, including previous postings on Poems & Poetics & in journals such as Chain, Tripwire, Shark, & XCP.  The poems translated here by Nathaniel Tarn, a senior & essential poet in his own right, appeared originally in El Organo de la Risa, published by Aldus Editorial in 2008.  Tarn’s latest major work, Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers, appeared from New Directions in 2008, & Yépez’s latest book in English was The Empire of Neomemory, a challenging critique & appreciation of Charles Olson.]