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Poetry From the March 2013 issue: Spain's Great Untranslated


from “Rage”

Ira

From violent dampnesses, from
places where the residues
of torments and whimpers mesh,
comes
this arterial grief, this shredded
memory.
         They go insane,
even the mothers who run through my veins. 

***

The tortured shadows
near the signs.

I think about the day when horses learned to weep.

 ***

Who shows up
shouting, announcing
such a summer, lighting
black lamps, hissing
into the pure blue of knives?

 ***

They come with lanterns, lugging
blind snakes to
the albescent sand.

There’s a blaze of bells. Steel
can be heard groaning
in the city surrounded by howls.

 ***

They scream before calcined walls.

They note the silhouette of knives, see
the sun’s circle, the surgery
of the animal stuffed with shadow.
                                     They hiss
in the white fistulas.

 ***

There was an extraction of men. I saw
the root living on the omen.

I saw insects sucking up tears, saw
blood on the yellow churches.

***

There were scorched flowers and denim
draped over a weeping machine.
Oil and shrieking in the steel and
propellers and bloody numbers
in the purity of my rage.

***

I recognized the tenanted shrouds
and the spark plugs of pain. Orations
boiled up between the lips
of frigid women. 

***

It was
mortal music, the shriek
of incessant horses, it was
a funeral pavane at the hour
of the bloodied cotton ball.

It was the drooping of thousands of heads,
the gargoyle, its maternal howl, the circles
of the tormented hen.
It’s even, once again, the whitewash, the bone
cold in our hands, the
policeman’s black marrow.

 ***

I saw
bodies along the edge of
the cold acequias.

Shrouded
in light.

*** 

I saw the ropes and cords, saw
the metallic seed and the briars
white with spines and light. Enpurpled,
they were gobbling up the insects.

***  

I found mercury in my pupils, tears
in the lumber, light
on the wall of the dying.

 ***

Beneath the busyness of ants
there were eyelids and there was
toxic water in the gutters.

Even in my heart
there are ants.

*** 

It’s going to dawn over the prisons and tombs.
The tortured head eyes me: its
ivory blazes like caught lightning.

From "Ira." © Antonio Gamoneda. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Forrest Gander. All rights reserved.

DE LAS violentas humedades, de
los lugares donde se entrecruzan
residuos de tormentas y sollozos,
viene
esta pena arterial, esta memoria
despedazada.
                          Aún enloquecen
aquellas madres en mis venas.

 

HASTA los signos vienen
las sombras torturadas.

Pienso en el día en que los caballos aprendieron a llorar.

 

¿QUIÉN viene
dando gritos, anuncia
aquel verano, enciende
lámparas negras, silba
en la pureza azul de los cuchillos?

 

VIENEN con lámparas, conducen
serpientes ciegas a
las arenas albarizas. 

Hay un incendio de campanas. Se
oye gemir el acero
en la ciudad rodeada de llanto.

 

GRITAN ante los muros calcinados. 

Ven el perfil de los cuchillos, ven
el círculo del sol, la cirugía
del animal lleno de sombra.
                                                  Silban
en las fístulas blancas.

 

HUBO extracción de hombres. Vi
la raíz morada del augurio. 

Vi a los insectos libando el llanto, vi
sangre en las iglesias amarillas”

 

HABÍA flores abrasadas, dril
sobre la máquina que llora.
Aceite y llanto en el acero y
hélices y números sangrientos
en la pureza de la ira.

 

CONOCÍ los sudarios habitados
y las bujías del dolor. Hervían
las oraciones en los labios
de las mujeres frías.

 

FUE
la música mortal, el alarido
de los caballos incesantes, fue
una pavana fúnebre a la hora
del algodón ensangrentado. 

Fue la declinación de mil cabezas,
la gárgola que aúlla maternal, los círculos
de la gallina atormentada.
Es aún, otra vez, la cal, el hueso
frío en nuestras manos, la
médula negra de la policía.

 

VI
cuerpos al borde de
las acequias frías. 

Amortajados
en la luz.

 

VI los alambres y las cuerdas, vi
la semilla del metal y el soto
blanco de espinos y de luz. Con púrpura
se alimentaban los insectos.

 

HALLÉ mercurio en las pupilas, lágrimas
en las maderas, luz
en la pared de los agonizantes.

 

BAJO la actividad de las hormigas
había párpados y había
agua mortal en las cunetas. 

Aún en mi corazón
hay hormigas.

 

VA a amanecer sobre las cárceles y las tumbas.
Me mira la cabeza torturada: su
marfil arde como un relámpago cautivo.




Antonio GamonedaAntonio Gamoneda

Antonio Gamoneda was born in Oviedo in 1931. His father was a modernist poet whose career was cut short by his early death. The young Antonio reputedly learned to read during the Spanish Civil War, when schools were closed, by immersing himself in his father’s poems. His own first book, Sublevación inmóvil, published in 1960, was a runner-up for the Adonais Prize. Working with progressive cultural organizations, Gamoneda didn’t publish another book of poems until after the fall of Franco. Then, in 1977, he published the impressive long poem Descripción de la mentira (León, 1977). After that followed Lápidas (Madrid, 1987) and Edad, which won the National Prize for Literature in Spain. In 1992, Libro del frío was published.  An expanded and revised version included Frío de límites, a collaboration with the artist Antoni Tàpies.  Arden las pérdidas was published in 2003 and La luz, a new collected poetry (1947–2004) was published in 2004.  In 2006, Gamoneda was awarded the Reina Sofia Award and the Cervantes Prize, the highest honor in Spanish literature.

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Forrest GanderForrest Gander

Forrest Gander is a writer and translator with degrees in geology and English literature. His book Core Samples from the World was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His recent translations include Watchword by Pura López Colomé and, with Kyoko Yoshida, Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura, winner of the Best Translated Book Award in 2012. Forthcoming from Shearsman Editions is Gander’s anthology, Panic Cure: Poetry from Spain for the 21st Century.