from Smoke

September 24, 2020 in Fiction, Spanish by ndannels

Original by Efrén Ordóñez
Translated, from the Spanish, by Robin Myers


His daily trip to the Depot had become the only possibility of seeing her. Every day, he’d make a wrong turn; some unrecognizable building would appear before him; he’d double back onto the same street and get lost for a few minutes. But he’d find his way. Right-right-left-left. He knew that if he stopped going, if one day he’d forget to check the lists, to suffer through the endless faces, Emma could slip away from him in the multitude of bodies, and if no one went to identify her, she’d end up in the mass crematorium—and he’d never see her again, and he’d never get these images out of his head.

The bureaucrats were never suspicious of him. They didn’t care. No one could know about the images of Emma looping around and around, some new ones (or old ones, really) finding their way onto the undesired carousel. And so, after several days, when the employees finally recognized him, they stopped coming up to give him instructions. It wouldn’t have crossed their minds that he’d spent two or three weeks searching for the same person. Most citizens made their final visit on the third day, and if they couldn’t find the individual in their charge, they assumed that the authorities would take things from there and send the body directly to the Oven. They rarely returned after that.

After so many trips, he’d started to study the chimney of the Oven. Especially at night. From his apartment, he could see its perpetual blue flame, the smoke condensing hundreds of bodies as they escaped the city, gradually forming the veil that many hailed as protection from the sun. But the pavement still burned. The high temperatures in the shade made life in the city feel like it was always on the verge of a storm.

One of those days, after he’d reviewed lists and faces, he fell prey either to courage or to desperation, left the front halls, and went into the next building, the unit that housed the old oven now restored and equipped to meet new needs. A rusty mass. The Oven, in addition to the body-collection project, was an initiative launched by one of the governors, though it was an advisor who’d come up with the idea: it would be a way to stay in voters’ minds and go down in the history of Monterrey. Physically, that is. Each of the adjacent buildings bore the governor’s surname and the years of his administration on a golden plaque.

The unit had two entrances: a large one for the collection trucks, and a small one that could accommodate only a single person at a time. He entered through the second. The building didn’t typically receive individual citizens, but it wasn’t some sort of secret or forbidden act. Apathy has always been the most effective lock.

The temperature was higher inside. Closing the door behind him, he found himself trapped in a dark space, a kind of vestibule or passageway. He was hit by the rhythmic clatter of metal curtains opening and closing, the groan of burning matter, the blowtorches spitting flames. Seconds later, someone opened a door in front of him. A crooked, skeletal shadow cut across the opening. The door stayed open. He moved toward it. He emerged into the unloading area, facing several wordless workers whose sole task was to offload bodies and pile them up onto forklifts. As soon as they filled up the pallet, they headed into a dimly lit tunnel. He climbed the stairs to his left so he could get a look at the whole scene.

He passed a row of downcast, leathery men, their eyes clouded, dressed in denim overalls. He walked around like just another worker and walked up the interminable spiral staircases that reached up alongside the machine rooms—spaces that were incomprehensible to him despite his training as an engineer. He continued upward. He crossed bridges with screeching handrails, protesting under the weight of passers-by. Their creaks sounded more like human screams disappearing into the void. Distant echoes. He stopped to examine the structure, but he couldn’t figure out the intention of the design. He kept going. He walked through doorways whose thresholds opened out onto nothing, crossed others where he found men resting, or hidden, ghosts with menacing eyes. He opened the door to a stockroom and saw a small group of overcalled workers kicking at a sack that was an imperfect sphere with dark stains. His presence didn’t interrupt their game. In the end, after making his way up several levels, he found himself at a stark lookout point with a view of various mouths of the Oven. Below, at least a dozen men—some with their own arms, others driving forklifts—emptied their content into each mouth, all of which opened and shut their steel doors to a steady cadence. Most of the bodies were still clothed. One. Two. Three. Four. Five seconds to toss in a corpse or two. They fell hard. He stared, transfixed by the rhythm of the curtains, the disposal of the bodies. Emma’s name hadn’t appeared on the lists, nor her face on the monitors. He wondered. She could have slipped through his fingers. His stomach turned at the thought of finding her piled up on one of those machines and he didn’t know why. With the metal clack of the curtains still echoing in his head, he made his way out.

His experience at the Oven left him with a sense of fear that quickly morphed into urgency. He intensified his evening searches, but he still hadn’t seen her in any of the dozens of white pick-ups he kept following, spurred by police fantasies and sleuthing speculations. Whenever he caught sight of one, he’d drop everything and track it until he was sure it wasn’t heading downtown, or that a woman who looked like her wasn’t getting in our out. Once again, every effort was in vain.

After several days, he was out of ideas, and he felt that his whole life was being diluted into a stream of identical hours. He returned to the living room couch and fixed his eyes behind the curtains, past the window. Beneath that painting, on a couch where she used to sit, with the horizontal lines running behind her head and the city in the background.

One Wednesday morning, sitting on that very couch, he looked at his books for the semester, stacked up on the coffee table, and regarded them with a certain suspicion. He picked one up. He flipped to a page at random and read the first few words. Finding them entirely senseless, he went to the bedroom and turned on the TV. His thoughts drifted into the colors and dances of a half-dozen presenters on some magazine show. Framed by a ballet of fluorescent demo girls, their choreographies repeated every five minutes without explanation. He watched an interview with a local dentist, the step-by-step preparation of pasta with tuna (quite affordable), and the testimony of a housewife and mother of sextuplets. Nothing caught his attention. Until, in the middle of a commercial, a sequence left him open-mouthed: a swelling melody accompanied the image of a sun glimmering its way into daylight, illuminating the many structures built during the current governor’s administration. The time lapse showed bridges springing into existence, buildings stretching toward the sky, miles of roads where there had once been only open fields. Cranes appeared along the city streets to arrange rows of panoramic ads displaying faces in motion. They smiled. The image faded into white and the glow became a dazzling sun. Beneath the zenithal light, latest-model cars and trucks, doors printed with the state seal, advanced along the roads that flanked the River, single-file, shifting and passing each other in a complex vehicular choreography. Then a group of garbage trucks broke rank and detached from the group, and the camera focused in on just one until it filled the screen. Then a transition to an urban neighborhood. The garbage truck, now sheltered by dusk, stopped at the foot of a mountain, the Cerro de la Silla. Two smiling men, tall and fit, picked up a body wrapped in a black plastic bag stamped with the state seal. They adjusted their load between them, then tossed it gracefully into the back of the truck, still smiling. They got in. The truck revved up and they slipped back into the dance of traffic. One by one, the vehicles progressed toward a shadowy structure with smokestacks looming under columns of smoke. The sun started to disappear behind the mountain. Another long shot of the city, now softened by dusky light; then the tune repeated, proposed, and imposed by the state government to end the commercial.

He jumped up. The answer was suddenly so clear to him. This was how he’d be the first to find her. He could guarantee she wouldn’t be lost; he could take her away right then and here and avoid the humiliating formalities to which the city’s hundreds or thousands of blotted-out residents were surely subjected. In any case, after several days, the idea of seeing her dead had become almost a reality, or at least a possibility. Without dwelling on it much, his goal had changed from finding her alive to finding her, period. And as soon as he found her, Emma would replace the images in his head: they’d stop hurting him, stop forcing down on his chest and emptying his stomach. The images were a substitute for the person, obviously, and so if he could just see the person…He made some calls until he tracked down a well-connected relative, who was a bit unsettled by the request, but nonetheless came through and pulled the necessary strings. The Cadaver Collection Service hired him within hours. The next day, when he signed the contract and the euphoria had passed, he realized what finding her first would mean.

de Humo

La vuelta diaria al Depósito se había convertido en la única posibilidad de verla. Todos los días daba una vuelta equivocada, aparecía algún edificio irreconocible, volvía sobre la misma calle y se perdía unos minutos. Pero llegaba. Derecha-derecha-izquierda-izquierda. Sabía que si desistía, si un día se olvidaba de repasar las listas, de sufrir los rostros, Emma podría escurrírsele entre la multitud de cuerpos y, si nadie la reclamaba, ella terminaría en el crematorio común, y él, sin verla de nuevo y sin que se le borrasen las imágenes de la cabeza.

Los burócratas nunca sospecharon. No les interesaba. Nadie podría saber sobre las imágenes de Emma repitiéndose en bucle, algunas nuevas (o viejas, en realidad) abriéndose paso e incluyéndose en un carrusel no deseado. Por eso, luego de varios días, cuando los empleados por fin lo reconocieron, dejaron de acercársele para darle instrucciones. No les hubiera pasado por la mente que, después de dos o tres semanas, siguiera buscando a una misma persona. Por lo general los ciudadanos hacían la visita al tercer día y, si no se encontraba su carga, asumían que las autoridades se encargarían y llevarían a la persona directo al Horno. Rara vez alguien regresaba.

Luego de tantas vueltas, había comenzado a tomar en cuenta la chimenea del Horno. Sobre todo por las noches. Desde el departamento veía su eterna flama azul y el humo que condensaba los centenares de cuerpos que escapaban de la ciudad y poco a poco iba formando el velo que muchos celebraron como protección contra el sol. Pero el pavimento seguía ardiendo. La alta temperatura bajo la sombra producía la sensación de un perpetuo preludio de tormenta.

Uno de aquellos días, luego de revisar listas y rostros, víctima de un desplante de valentía o desesperación, salió de las salas y pasó al siguiente edificio, a la nave con el antiguo horno restaurado y adecuado a las nuevas necesidades. Una mole de óxido. El Horno, junto con el proyecto de las recolectoras, fue iniciativa de uno de los gobernadores del estado, idea impulsada por alguno de sus asesores para quedarse en «la mente» de los regiomontanos y colarse en la Historia de la ciudad; es decir, de forma física. Cada una de las estructuras aledañas llevaba los dos apellidos y el periodo de su administración sobre una placa dorada.

La nave ofrecía dos entradas: una grande para los camiones recolectores, y otra diminuta por donde apenas cabía una persona. Entró por la segunda. Si bien no se acostumbraba darle entrada a los ciudadanos, tampoco era una actividad secreta o prohibida para la gente. La indiferencia siempre ha sido el mejor candado.

Adentro aumentó la temperatura. Luego de cerrar la puerta quedó atrapado en medio de un espacio oscuro, una especie de recibidor o área de paso. Lo invadió el sonido del abrir y cerrar de cortinas de acero cayendo rítmicamente, del crujir de los materiales ardiendo, de flamas que escupían los sopletes. Segundos después alguien abrió una puerta frente a él. Por la abertura atravesó una sombra esquelética y corva. La puerta quedó abierta. Avanzó. Se encontró en el área de descarga, ante varios trabajadores enmudecidos con la única tarea de bajar cadáveres para luego apilarlos sobre y el testimonio de un ama de casa madre de sextillizos. Nada le llamó la atención. Hasta que, en medio de un bloque publicitario, lo deslumbró una secuencia: las notas de una melodía in crescendo sobre la imagen de un sol asomándose por la mañana cuya luz descubría las muchas construcciones erigidas durante el mandato del gobernador vigente. Con un time-lapse se levantaron puentes, edificios estirándose hacia el cielo y kilómetros de calles en donde antes sólo se veían llanos. A los costados de las avenidas llegaron grúas para acomodar hileras de anuncios panorámicos que enmarcaron rostros en movimiento. Sonrientes. La imagen fundió a blancos y el resplandor pasó a ser un sol brillante. Debajo de aquel sol cenital, varios carros último modelo y camionetas con escudo del estado sobre las puertas avanzaban por las calles aledañas al Río, en fila, cambiaban de lugar, todo como parte de una coreografía vehicular. De ahí, un grupo de camiones recolectores se desprendió del grupo, rompió filas y la cámara encuadró a uno solo que llenó la pantalla, luego la transición a una de las colonias de la ciudad. El camión recolector, cobijado ya por el atardecer, se detiene a las faldas del Cerro de la Silla. Dos hombres sonrientes, altos y en forma, recogen un cuerpo envuelto en una bolsa negra con el escudo del estado al frente. Balancean su carga y, sin dejar de sonreír, la arrojan con gracia a la caja. Suben. El camión arranca y se une a la coreografía que ha llegado a esa altura de la avenida. Uno detrás de otro enfilaron hacia una oscurísima construcción con chimeneas debajo de columnas de humo. El sol comenzó a esconderse detrás del cerro. De nuevo un plano general de la ciudad, ahora con la luz difusa del atardecer y la tonada repetida, propuesta e impuesta por la administración estatal, para cerrar el comercial.

Se levantó de un brinco. La respuesta se revelaba tan clara. Así podría ser el primero en encontrarla y garantizar que no se perdiera, podría llevársela ahí mismo y evitar los penosos trámites a los que seguramente fueron sometidos los centenares o miles de borrados de la ciudad. De todas formas, luego de varios días, la idea de verla sin vida se había convertido casi en una realidad, o al menos en una posibilidad. Sin reparar mucho en ello había pasado de encontrarla con vida a encontrarla y punto. En el momento en que apareciera, Emma tomaría el lugar de las imágenes en la cabeza, dejarían de hacerle daño, de oprimirle el pecho y vaciarle el estómago. Las imágenes eran un sustituto de la persona, claro, por lo tanto al ver a la persona… Hizo algunas llamadas hasta dar con un pariente bien conectado y, aunque a éste le desconcertó su petición, habló con algunas personas para posicionarlo. La Recolectora de Cadáveres del Noreste lo contrató ese mismo día. Cuando al día siguiente estampó su firma en el contrato y pasó la euforia, cayó en cuenta de lo que «encontrarla primero» significaba.

Efrén Ordóñez is a writer from Monterrey, México. He is the author of Humo (NitroPress, 2017), a novel which was awarded the Nuevo Leon Prize in Literature in 2014 and published under the title Ruinas (CONARTE/Conaculta 2015). He also wrote the short story collection, Gris infierno (An.alfa.beta 2014), and the children’s book, Tlacuache: Historia de una cola (FCAS 2015). In 2017, he created Argonáutica, a literary translation press, alongside Marco Antonio Alcalá, for which he translated the short story collection, Melville’s Beard || Las barbas de Melville, by Mark Haber. In 2020, he and Alcalá are launching Red Velvet Goat (RVG), a more ambitious publishing project that will encompass a broader selection of books. He is currently living in New York City and finishing his second novel, Productos desechables (Disposable products)—which he started writing with a grant from the Young Creator’s Program in Mexico—and the collection of fictional biographies titled La maestría del fracaso, with a grant from CONARTE in the state of Nuevo León, México.

Robin Myers is the translator of, recently, The Restless Dead by Cristina Rivera Garza, Cars on Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos, and Animals at the End of the World by Gloria Susana Esquivel; forthcoming translations include books by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Tedi López Mills, Leonardo Teja, and Daniel Lipara. Other work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, The Common, the Harvard Review, Two Lines, Waxwing, World Literature Today, Asymptote, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. She was among the winners of the 2019 Poems in Translation Contest (Words Without Borders / Academy of American Poets).


by atosun

Lives Hidden

August 1, 2019 in Fiction, Poetry, Spanish by atosun

Original by Andrea Zelaya
Translated, from the Spanish, by the author

We were lying down, at night, looking at the stars, you and I. Only there weren’t any stars that we could look at. We were pretending. We were on top of all those boxes, covering ourselves from the cold with a shared blanket, and the sky was the dark above and around us. We were the last to still have some human in us. The rest were all gone. They had been killed on earth during the war and then during the migration, when the technologicals were trying to stop us from coming in. I was telling you about how you had to hold on because we were the only ones still with some human in us. We were part machine but we were still human, unlike the others. The others were all technologicals. I was telling you all this. I was telling you about how we were the only two children who had survived the cages and the mutilations. All adults were meant to be killed, and some of their children were captured and put in cages to await mutilations, to open us up, to see what made us human, and to take it away. Most died. But we didn’t die, you and I, because of that guard, that guard who was a mixed one. Somebody had helped her survive before and then she helped us too. She tried to help others but then she got caught and killed. She knew how to perform the operations and gave me a technological arm and foot and gave you a technological leg and a half face. She also gave us this blanket. I was telling you all this as we were lying down on all those boxes filled with technological parts she kept hidden inside this broken vessel. But I couldn’t read your expression. I think that you were scared, and tired, and in pain, like I was, but I couldn’t tell anymore. I think you tried to move your lips, but then nothing really happened. So I told you to try to rest. I told you we would figure it out. We would have to live our lives hidden from now on but we would try to keep surviving, day by day. Rest your eyes, I said to you, while I closed your human and your technological eyelids at the same time, and imagine that we’re on a terrace on earth, lying down at night, looking at the stars. 

Vidas escondidas 

Estábamos acostados, en la noche, mirando las estrellas, tú y yo. Sólo que no había ninguna estrella que pudiéramos ver. Estábamos fingiendo. Estábamos arriba de todas esas cajas, cubriéndonos del frío con una cobija que compartíamos, y el cielo era la oscuridad sobre nosotros y alrededor de nosotros. Éramos los últimos que todavía tenían algo humano dentro. Los demás ya no estaban. Habían sido aniquilados en la tierra durante la guerra y luego durante la migración, cuando los tecnologianos estaban tratando de impedirnos llegar aquí. Te estaba diciendo que debías aguantar porque éramos los únicos aún con algo humano dentro de nosotros. Éramos parte máquina pero éramos todavía humanos, a diferencia de los otros. Los otros eran todos tecnologianos. Te estaba diciendo todo esto. Te estaba diciendo sobre cómo éramos los únicos dos niños que habían sobrevivido las jaulas y las mutilaciones. Todos los adultos tenían que ser aniquilados, y algunos de sus niños fueron capturados y puestos en jaulas a esperar la mutilación, para abrirnos, para ver qué nos hacía humanos, para quitárnoslo. La mayoría murió. Pero nosotros no, ni tú ni yo, gracias a esa guarda, esa guarda que era mixta. Alguien la había ayudado a sobrevivir antes y ahora nos ayudaba a nosotros también. Trató de ayudar a otros pero fue descubierta y aniquilada. Ella sabía cómo realizar las operaciones y me dio un brazo y un pie tecnológicos y a ti una pierna y la mitad de la cara. También nos dio esta cobija. Te estaba diciendo todo esto mientras estábamos acostados en esas cajas llenas de piezas tecnológicas que ella mantenía escondidas en esta nave averiada. Pero no podía descifrar tu expresión. Creo que tenías miedo, cansancio, y dolor, como yo, pero no lo podía asegurar más. Creo que intentaste mover tus labios, pero nada sucedió. Entonces te dije que descansaras. Te dije que lo solucionaríamos. Tendríamos que vivir nuestras vidas escondidas desde ahora pero intentaríamos seguir sobreviviendo, día con día. Descansa tu ojos, te dije, mientras cerraba tu párpado humano y tu párpado tecnológico al mismo tiempo, e imagina que estamos en una terraza en la tierra, acostados en la noche, mirando las estrellas. 


Andrea Zelaya is a student in the PhD literature program at UCSD, and has published her short stories and poetry in both English and Spanish. She has also worked as a pro bono translator.

by atosun

organic chemistry; prelude in b sharp

August 1, 2019 in Poetry, Spanish by atosun

By Laura Yasan
Translated, from the Spanish, by Phoebe Carter 


organic chemistry

all the time it takes the heart to forget music
and get used to the sound of dead leaves
emitted by memory when it moves on

all the time it takes to divide
impure strands of oxygen
earthquake’s heartbeat
signals in the fault

all the time it takes its obedient angel to react
his blue mouth against the night
that dark gush running through the scar
like a fish in mystery’s riverbed

all the time it takes the carbon cycle
to rot
and burn its tree trunk below the nape

a silk rug rubbed on cheeks
the tongue floating in a swamp
and it’s a salt kiss on the wound
all the time it takes the heart
to let you go

prelude in b sharp

so let them tie me
to a hospital bed
let a mute nurse open her pillbox every twenty minutes
let her play me chopin’s preludes
at six in the evening when the mercury blows
and my body is the sheath of a dragon trained
for great numbers of fire

let her rub anesthesia on my gums
and sew up my lips
and twice a day give me a hundred-volt shock
if my arms don’t let go
if I repeat that name

let her say a prayer over my heart
so it doesn’t wake up on me

and the hours shape the spaces
where oblivion might hold it back


Born in Buenos Aires in 1960, Laura Yasan has published twelve books of poetry and anthologies, including ripio, awarded the Municipal Poetry Prize of La Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires in 2005; la llave marilyn, awarded the Casa de las Americas prize in 2009; and animal de presa, awarded the Carmen Conde prize in 2011.Her work has been partially translated into English, German, French and Italian.

She lives in Buenos Aires where she runs writing workshops in prisons, libraries, nursing homes, and virtually through her program “Palabra Virtual.”


Phoebe Carter is a graduate student of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She earned her BA from Kenyon College in 2017, where she began studying translation with Kate Hedeen.

by atosun

Unsent Letter (and two other poems)

March 19, 2019 in Poetry, Spanish by atosun

Originals by Ángel José Fernández
Translated, from the Spanish, by Yasmín Rojas

Unsent letter

[A terrestrial message]
… love towards cherished ones is in you a lot more than in me. In you, it is a daily state, in me
it flowers after many tough fights with my bad

Lucila Godoy Alcayaga,
Letter to Manuel Magallanes Moure

I have, Angel for a name, a bad angel
that pushes me in its woes to the abysm.
It arrives and it mounts. It climbs the villages’ mountains
it plows through the backs of clouds, it travels through an air boat;
it governs my force: it confronts me with my bottomless reigns.

The day of the dissension from the heights you knew your fear,
of foliage and irrational nerve, and darkened forests.
Does it come from your house, of buried sidereal roots,
from the backyard or the garden? The camouflage comes with you,
placing a chain on your foot, silence to your silences.

Where is that well? Hidden between mists?
Under interior, reddened skin? Between your livid and fresh hands?
In the flushed shadow of the pine forest, and childhood hill?
It arrives and it mounts, that fear is agile, it gets tangled up with your step,
that avoids thickets, short cuts and wishes.

I have, Angel for a name, a devil against time,
a puddle made of dreams and courage.


Before you

Before you, a flood.

After you, shipwreck and orphan hood
upon the sea of your eyes, water islands.

There is no tempest or calmness in the premonition,
only silence and gleam with no words.



I will not find a  new sea
in the island of your eyes.

I will not carve your ruin in this earth
that will only cover me a night.

My arms will not embrace
the moon’s agony.

I will stay in the shadow of your eyes.


Carta no enviada

…el amor a los seres está en Ud. mucho, mucho más que en mí. En Ud. es estado cotidiano, en mí florece después de luchas reñidas con mi ángel malo.

Lucila Godoy Alcayaga:
Carta a Manuel Magallanes Moure

Tengo, Ángel de nombre, un ángel malo
que me empuja en sus lances al abismo.
Viene y cabalga. Trepado va en los montes de la aldea,
surca en lomos de nube, viaja en un barco aéreo.
Mis ímpetus gobierna. Me enfrenta a sus dominios insondables

Aquel día del descenso a las alturas supiste de tu miedo,
de fronda y nervio irracional, y anochecidos bosques.
¿Proviene de tu casa, de enterradas raíces siderales,
del traspatio o del huerto? Aquí vienen contigo los embozos,
ponen cadena al pie, silencio a tus silencios.

¿Dónde estará ese pozo entre neblinas escondido?
¿Bajo piel interior, enrojecida? ¿Entre tus manos lívidas y frescas?
¿En la encendida sombra del pinar de la infancia?
Viene y cabalga, es ágil ese miedo; se enreda con tu paso,
que esquiva matorrales, atajos y deseos.

Tengo, Ángel de nombre, un diablo contra el tiempo,
un charco hecho de sueños y coraje.


Antes de ti

Antes de ti, el diluvio.

Después de ti, naufragios y orfandades
frente al mar de tus ojos, islas de agua.

No hay tempestad ni calma en el presagio,
sólo silencio y brillo sin palabras.



No hallaré nuevo mar
en la isla de tus ojos.

No labraré tu ruina en esta tierra
que sólo ha de cubrirme en una noche.

No abarcarán mis brazos
la agonía de la luna.

Me quedaré en la sombra de tus ojos.

Ángel José Fernández was born in 1953 in Xalapa, Veracruz. He has published several poetry books. He is currently an academic in the PhD program of Latinamerican literature in the Universidad Veracruzana.

Yasmín Rojas Pérez was born in 1991 in Mexico City and is a Master’s graduate in Mexican Literature and translator.

by jgburke

“A Daily Verse”

June 2, 2018 in Poetry, Spanish by jgburke

Translation by Maria Bartlett

A Daily Verse

Washing my hair

I am one with the water


Drying my hair

I am one with the air


Combing my hair

I am one with the comb



I am one with all



Original by Blanco

Poema cotidiano

Me lavo la cabeza

soy uno con el agua

Me seco la cabeza

soy uno con el aire

Me peino

soy uno con el peine


Me río

soy uno con todo



Maria Bartlett




Blanco is one of the most prolific poets working in Latin America today. Medio Cine contains forty poems in conversation with well-known film directors. These directors are listed in italics after the title of each poem. The poems were translated into English for the first time by Dr. Ron Friis and myself in collaboration with the poet, who has given us explicit permission to submit and publish them.

by jgburke

“A Dog Has Died

June 2, 2018 in Poetry, Spanish by jgburke

Translation by Lorena Espinoza

A Dog Has Died

My dog has died.

I buried him in the garden

next to an old, oxidized machine.


Someday he will join me

Right here in this spot.

Now he has gone with his fur,

His bad etiquette, and his cool nose


and I, the materialist that does not believe

in the heavenly sky promised

to no human,

Not to this dog, nor for all dog kind.

I believe in paradise, yes, I believe in a paradise,

One I will never enter, but where

he will be waiting for me

rotating his propeller-like tail,

so that I, upon arriving, will have a friend.


Oh I will not tell of my sadness,

for not having my companion anymore,

because he was never my servant.


His friendship towards me was reminiscent of a hedgehog

that protects his autonomy,

It was the friendship of an independent star


without more intimacy than was appropriate,

without exaggerations:

he did not climb up on my clothes

leaving his fur nor germs on me,

he did not rub up against my leg

like other sex-obsessed dogs.


No, my dog looked at me

giving me the attention I need,

the necessary attention

to make a vain man comprehend,

that his existence as a dog,

with eyes purer than mine,

was losing my time, yet he looked at me

with a gaze reserved only for me

all of his sweet, furry life,

his silent life,

Always by my side, without ever bothering me,

without expectations of me.


Oh, how many times I wished I, too, had a tail,

While walking with him by the seashore,

in the Isla Negra winter,

in the grand solitude: the winter birds

Taking over the sky above us,

and my fluffy dog jumping, his wavering fur

Full of marine voltage

My dog, the wanderer, sniffing away

While flying his golden tail like a kite

Face to face with the Ocean and its foam.


Chipper, chipper, chipper.

Happy like only a dog knows how to be,

with only the absolutism of their shameless nature.


There are no goodbyes for my dog that has died,

and there is not, nor was there ever, a single lie between us.


Now my dog has gone, and I buried him, and that was all.


Original poem by Pablo Neruda

Un Perro Ha Muerto

Mi perro ha muerto.  

Lo enterré en el jardín

junto a una vieja máquina oxidada.  

Allí, no más abajo,  

ni más arriba,

se juntará conmigo alguna vez.

Ahora él ya se fue con su pelaje,  

su mala educación, su nariz fría.  

Y yo, materialista que no cree  

en el celeste cielo prometido

para ningún humano,  

para este perro o para todo perro  

creo en el cielo, sí, creo en un cielo  

donde yo no entraré, pero él me espera  

ondulando su cola de abanico  

para que yo al llegar tenga amistades.  


Ay no diré la tristeza en la tierra  

de no tenerlo más por compañero,  

que para mí jamás fue un servidor.  

Tuvo hacia mí la amistad de un erizo

que conservaba su soberanía,  

la amistad de una estrella independiente

sin más intimidad que la precisa,  

sin exageraciones:

no se trepaba sobre mi vestuario

llenándome de pelos o de sarna,  

no se frotaba contra mi rodilla  

como otros perros obsesos sexuales.  

No, mi perro me miraba  

dándome la atención que necesito,  

la atención necesaria  

para hacer comprender a un vanidoso

que siendo perro él,

con esos ojos, más puros que los míos,  

perdía el tiempo, pero me miraba  

con la mirada que me reservó  

toda su dulce, su peluda vida,  

su silenciosa vida,

cerca de mí, sin molestarme nunca,  

y sin pedirme nada.


Ay cuántas veces quise tener cola

andando junto a él por las orillas

del mar, en el invierno de Isla Negra,  

en la gran soledad: arriba el aire

traspasado de pájaros glaciales,

y mi perro brincando, hirsuto, lleno  

de voltaje marino en movimiento:  

mi perro vagabundo y olfatorio  

enarbolando su cola dorada

frente a frente al Océano y su espuma.  


Alegre, alegre, alegre  

como los perros saben ser felices,

sin nada más, con el absolutismo  

de la naturaleza descarada.


No hay adiós a mi perro que se ha muerto.

Y no hay ni hubo mentira entre nosotros.

Ya se fue y lo enterré, y eso era todo.


Lorena Espinoza

Lorena Espinoza is a second year student at UC San Diego majoring in Literature/Writing. When she is not writing for her coursework, she is writing for own enjoyment. She hopes to work in publishing and/or editing after college.


Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda, the winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature, was a Chilean poet who actively wrote works of literature since the young age of thirteen. Neruda is recognized for many famous works such as his collection Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.

by jgburke

“The Dream”

June 2, 2018 in Poetry, Spanish by jgburke

Translation by E. Rose

The Dream

The Dream VII

Every time I leave you I keep the splendor of your last Gaze is my eyes. And, then, I run to lock

myself up, I turn off the lights, I evade all sound so that nothing robs an atom from me of the

ethereal substance of your Gaze, its infinite sweetness, its limpid diffidence, its delicate rapture.

All night long, with the rosy tips of my fingers, I caress the eyes that gazed upon you.

The Dream XIII

Ringing of the bells, rude ringing of the bells:

At this hour you pierce my soul and startle my delicate thoughts of love.

The Dream XV

I put my hands across my heart and feel how it beats in despair. “Who are you?” And it answers

me: “Tear open your chest, sprout wings, pierce through the walls, traverse the houses, fly, wild,

across the city, find her, hollow out her chest and join me to her heart.”



Original by Alfonsina Storni

El Ensueño

El ensueño VI

Cada vez que te dejo retengo en mis ojos el resplandor de tu última Mirada. Y, entonces, corro a

encerrarme, apago las luces, evito todo ruido para que nada me robe un átomo de la substancia

etérea de tu Mirada, su infinita dulzura, su límpida timidez, su fino arrobamiento. Toda la noche,

con la yema rosada de los dedos, acaricio los ojos que te miraron.

El ensueño XIII

Tañido de campanas, grosero tañido de campanas: Herís mi alma y asustáis en esta hora mis finos

pensamientos de amor.

El ensueño XV

Pongo las manos sobre mi corazón y siento que late desesperado.

– ¿Quién eres tú?

Y me contesta: -Romper tu pecho, echar alas, agujerear las paredes, atravesar las casas, volar, loco,

a través de la ciudad, econtrarle, ahuecar su pecho y juntarme al suyo.



E. Rose

E. Rose is a student in the M.A. program in Translation Studies at the University of Illinois, with a focus in literary translation. She is also a language teacher and translator, working from German and Spanish. She loves poetry and is particularly interested in exploring expressions of gender socialization and queer experiences in literature.


Alfonsina Storni 

Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938) was born in Switzerland and spent most of her life in Argentina. Her book Languidez was awarded the First Municipal Poetry Prize and the second National Literature Prize. During her time, her writing did not fit into any genre, and she was criticized for her atypical style, which is often now labeled postmodern. Poemas de amor, one of her lesser known collections of poetry, was created in the Porter Hermanos workshops in Buenos Aires in 1926. It is considered her only prose poetry work. The work is presented in four parts: El ensueño, Plenitud, Agonía, and Noche.


“In a frightening silence”

May 15, 2017 in Poetry, Spanish by

Num silêncio assustador
Onde ouço somente o ruído
Que o ventilador insiste em fazer
Sem nem mesmo querer

Pensando bem,
Há um cutucar
De lápis sem parar

Estou sozinha no silêncio
E ainda escuto vozes
Ao longe a cochichar
Para ninguém desconfiar

Será que é minha mente,
Ou está cheio de gente?
Nem sei mais identificar
Aonde posso estar.

Gabriela Helena de Oliveira Borges was born on November 25, 2000, in a city in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil, called Franca.  She is the third and youngest child of a fierce and kind couple.  She was educated in private secondary schools and it was in the first of these, Escola de Arte Criativa Toulouse Lautrec, that she discovered the magic of art and developed her charm for writing, always with the support of her family.  For two consecutive years she won first place in the school poetry competition and she never stopped writing.  She currently attends hight school at Novo Colégio, in her home city

In a frightening silence
In which I hear only the sound
That the fan insists on making
Without even wanting to

Thinking hard,
There’s a never-ending jab
Of the pencil

I am alone in the silence
And still I hear voices
From afar whispering
That nobody distrust them

Could it be that it’s my mind,
Or is it full of people?
I don’t know nor do I recognize
Whither I can be.

Tucson, Arizona born-and-raised, Shelby London Salemi practices capoeira angola and is earning her MFA in Writing at the University of California San Diego.  Her writing has appeared in the online journal Spiral Orb and the 2016 print anthology The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide.  She is working on her first novel.



Sentimento Latente

May 15, 2017 in Poetry, Spanish, Uncategorized by


Sob a luz do luar
Feliz a cantar
Era um sonho que um dia
Ia acabar

Desaparecimentos iam ocorrer
Logo então

Essa tortura logo
Me enlouqueceu
Mas não me esqueceu

Então me lembrei
Que este país
É meu,
É seu,
E eu lutarei.

Gabriela Helena de Oliveira Borges was born on November 25, 2000, in a city in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil, called Franca.  She is the third and youngest child of a fierce and kind couple.  She was educated in private secondary schools and it was in the first of these, Escola de Arte Criativa Toulouse Lautrec, that she discovered the magic of art and developed her charm for writing, always with the support of her family.  For two consecutive years she won first place in the school poetry competition and she never stopped writing.  She currently attends hight school at Novo Colégio, in her home city


Under the moonlight
Happily singing
There was a dream that one day
It would end

They shut me up
Disappearances would occur
Soon after
They exiled me

This torture soon
Made me go crazy
But it didn’t pass me by

Then I remembered
That this country is mine,
Is yours,
And I will fight.

Tucson, Arizona born-and-raised, Shelby London Salemi practices capoeira angola and is earning her MFA in Writing at the University of California San Diego.  Her writing has appeared in the online journal Spiral Orb and the 2016 print anthology The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide.  She is working on her first novel.



Alma Dubia

May 15, 2017 in Poetry, Spanish, Uncategorized by


Os raios solares
Que ultrapassam a janela
Até parecem
Partes de mim
Que querem ser libertadas
Não sei de onde vem
Esse desejo
De ser diferente
Mas fazer parte ao mesmo tempo.

Quero ser aqueles raios
Que ultrapassam a janela
E se sobressaem.
Quero ser aquela flor
No meio do deserto.
E mesmo assim,
Continuarei sendo
Uma gota no oceano.

Gabriela Helena de Oliveira Borges was born on November 25, 2000, in a city in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil, called Franca.  She is the third and youngest child of a fierce and kind couple.  She was educated in private secondary schools and it was in the first of these, Escola de Arte Criativa Toulouse Lautrec, that she discovered the magic of art and developed her charm for writing, always with the support of her family.  For two consecutive years she won first place in the school poetry competition and she never stopped writing.  She currently attends hight school at Novo Colégio, in her home city.


The sunbeams
That transcend the window
Almost resemble
Parts of me
That want to be freed
I don’t know from whence it comes
This desire
To be different
But to be a part at the same time.

I want to be those beams
That transcend the window
And that become visible.
I want to be that flower
In the middle of the desert.
Even so,
I will continue being
A drop in the ocean.

Tucson, Arizona born-and-raised, Shelby London Salemi practices capoeira angola and is earning her MFA in Writing at the University of California San Diego.  Her writing has appeared in the online journal Spiral Orb and the 2016 print anthology The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide.  She is working on her first novel.