from the grave of my grave
a hollow-now open advancing
my love, her stairs
her name, her signs
advancing the same.
with my brother
the vine and its roots
lift
here and there.
stalker-yesterday
pretends to not be dead.
shoe and cloud are
bubble and hand
bright catapult
direct detour
never adorned
with sharp presences.
the grave of my grave
stays
and so coincidence
stalker-yesterday says slowly
my death has not begun
(a mistake)
the insects wove their net
and destroys it
the grave of his grave
left only a grave
walled in and everything
was fucked.
stalker-yesterday
adjusts his thorns
yesterday—handkerchief—hug
they stop him
surround him close
take away the east
pluck him
foamless, for me
my lover rubbed
him into her skin
he’ll stay in my pupil
like a closed point.
tomorrow stalker—yesterday
single claw
without coat—picture—pot
was tiger claw.
that of the picture, we delve,
a simple image; for example,
sheet,
salt,
petal,
foam,
asses (if they let me),
don’t rest;
they lack border and prayer
here and there they feel
almost like close at home
a casual thing for them
of import and perennial
stalker—yesterday
ingodwetrusting
with cheap pictures
and artificial discs
in relief.
the image of the image
of the image
won’t stop again;
its walls don’t foresee
the leak,
nor feel it,
nor expect it.
stalker—yesterday smug
throat-clearing
stalk—tomorrow,
but tomorrow is the product
of distant barking
of yesterday—brother—mother
hollow—now immense
greening,
mountain with two faces
and highest hive.

Translation of “[desde la tumba de mi tumba].” From Rendijas (Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2001). © 2011 by José María Lima. By arrangement with the publisher. Translation © 2011 by Erica Mena. All rights reserved.

desde la tumba de mi tumba
un hoy-o abierto avanza;
mi amada, su escalera,
su nombre, sus insignias
avanzan por igual.
junto a mi hermano
el vino y sus raíces
se levantan
aquí y allá.
perseguidor-ayer desciende,
pretende no haber muerto.
zapato y nube son
burbuja y mano
brillante catapulta
rodeo directísimo
nunca engalanado
de cortantes presencias.
la tumba de mi tumba
permanece
de ahí la coincidencia
perseguidor-ayer dice despacio
mi muerte no comienza
(se equivoca)
tejieron los insectos su red
y le destrozan
la tumba de su tumba
sólo tumba le queda
tapiada y todo
se jodío.
perseguidor-ayer
dispone sus espinas
ayer—pañuelo—abrazo
le detienen
le cercan de cerca
le quitan el oriente
lo despluman
espuma ya no tiene
mi amada lo incorporó
a su piel para mí
quedará en mi pupila
como un punto cerrado.
mañana perseguidor—ayer
garra sencilla
sin gabán—retrato—escupidera
garra de tigre fue.
lo del retrato, ahondemos,
es imagen sencilla; por ejemplo,
la sábana,
la sal,
el pétalo,
la espuma,
los culos (si me dejan),
no descansan;
carecen de frontera y plegaria
aquí y allá se sienten
casi como en su casa
cosa casual en ellos
de importancia y perenne
perseguidor—ayer
ingodtrostea
con indignos retratos
y artificiales discos
en relieve.
la imagen de la imagen
de la imagen
no pare más;
sus muros no adivinan
la gotera,
ni la sienten,
ni la esperan.
perseguidor—ayer orondo
carraspea
persecución—mañana,
pero mañana es fruto
de distante ladridos
de ayer--hermano—madre
hoy—o inmenso
verdeado,
montaña con dos caras
y dujo del altísimo.




José María LimaJosé María Lima

Poet, mathematician, painter, Marxist, activist, and professor José María Lima (1936–2009) is considered one of the most important voices in twentieth-century Puerto Rican poetry. With Clemente Soto Vélez and Francisco Matos Paoli, he is among the most influential inheritors of the Latin American and European avant-garde in Puerto Rico. He published only three books in his lifetime, Homenaje al ombligo with Angelamaria Davila in 1966; La sílaba en la piel (1982); and Rendijas (2001). He worked as a journalist for El Mundo, studied at Harvard and UC Berkeley, traveled to Cuba to protest the US embargo, and returned to Puerto Rico where, despite political harassment for his views, he taught mathematics at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras until he retired.

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Erica MenaErica Mena

Erica Mena is a poet, translator, and editor, not necessarily in that order. She holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, and is an MFA candidate in poetry from Brown. Her original poetry has appeared in Vanitas, the Dos Passos Review, Pressed Wafer, and Arrowsmith Press. Her translations have appeared in Two Lines, Asymptote, PEN America, and Words without Borders, among others. She is the founding editor of Anomalous Press.