Poeisis: Kings in the Chaos

Translated by Judah Rubin

Poeisis: Kings in the Chaos
Hueso Húmero, no. 17 (December 1983) 

Listen to me Mariela
I already know that you are tired of your dad’s authority, and still you can’t stop loving him. I know that you will never be the fourth sheep in the fold, sweetly and docilely disposed to the orders directed by satellite, on the hall sofa in front of the TV. You will never accept changing yourself into a mild-mannered housewife, without problems (or only domestic ones). They will never understand, what’s more, that your nocturnal weeping in the solitude of your blankets or in the purer and more freezing morning, was simply weeping, they were only tears running down your cheeks and that you didn’t know why and it didn’t interest you and that it never interested you to know where that grief came from and the forceful tug at your heart and the nails pressed against the blouse ripping it and finally all that was left of you was the dresser to feel useless heading out to teach English, or to teach whatever.

                                    Ah Mariela
                                                When in reality what you were looking for was to look directly into your own eyes, bowling ball black in the mirror, and to find out why love would be waiting for you, poetry, on the next corner, perhaps in that same narrow Conococha alley. And that enough time had been spent trying, pressing yourself — without ever succeeding — to be the ideal girl that the system demanded. For that love that we perhaps never get, but do glimpse in the melancholy speed of the cars that fly down the Vía Expresa, from here, from this bridge, these verses that I at times put together at times to offer to you, fearless, with the magnetic fluid that your eyes place in me, your oldest tears, when you understand your destiny printed in the newspapers, on the pages that the world throws away, in the songs that return to a time so fleeting, like the ribbon of one’s first love, in the transparent places where love ruled and flew off again and landed among the sounds of reality — howling wind waterfalls caressing its hair — the motor of an accelerating Ford, even a butterfly — what do I know, what can I know, what’s more, of your life, what really of your blue jeans, of your armpits, of your boots on the edge of the bed, of your clean fingers, of your Apache loneliness.

River shack, indwelling purple
of glimmering rocks and the lights
of the booth in the hydroelectric plant
Niagara district — Chaclacayo —
I always find silence among this furniture,
not bright but masters of freshness
with which I now feel that I can write,
although it’ll be some first lines
the first canto of the poem, although
later I will have to leave, to abandon
this piece of stopped time and
in a microbus Lima-Ricardo Palma
to be a witness to a declaration of love:
He, skinny, short hair, voice cracked
by the circumstances. She, blue,
sure, natural voice with a
timid tenderness, musical, urbane

He: Why are you so alone? 
She: I’m annoyed, I’m bored. I don’t know.
He: Wouldn’t you like to get out, talk?
She: You can see those lights from Ventanilla.
He: Yeah, it’s as though they were standing in midair.

A while later, she’s put
her hand on his, on the
back of the seat. Hers
can only be distinguished from his
by the care the nails show.
From Huampaní to Lima, a
Friday at dusk, in the
aisle of a microbus
love is reborn in two of my
country’s youth. And Edith Lagos?
Who is Edith Lagos? Sarita Colonia? Her face
makes me think of the others,
the same oval line, the same straight hair
across the sides of her forehead

She says: Are we going to a discotheque? In Lima or Miraflores?
He: The ones in Lima are lame.
She: Put on the Amanda Miguel tape.


So says an inscription on the wall
of a factory. Suddenly, I
notice that I’m on the Carretera Central.
The factories follow each other, one by one
(I can’t stand the penetrating smell
of dust accumulating among the books
dispersed on my table)
Hills of books / inhabited hills,
in El Agustino I see
the shifting glow of a TV
lighting a window up above
                                    The micro
Turns into the final stop.
The money collector comes close and stops
a girl before she climbs down and
says: Wait, don’t get off.
Me: What’s going on?
The collector: The cops are over there.
Me: Which cops?
He: What do you mean which cops?