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Homero Pumarol: New poems.

Translated by Hoyt Rogers.

SEASONG

I see by your dead man’s eye that you’re not tired,
I see by the light of your corpse you’re not yet done.
You are your own music, your own silence,
you are your beginning and your end.
You stroke your face with your own hand
that wipes away the sweat of seasons—
that scatters waves on the back of afternoon.
I grew up in this city that watches you obscenely,
not knowing who you are. I grew up in this city
that lives alone because on you it has turned its back,
among these walls and trees and faces that seem real.
In your broken voice I sense a memory without end.
I suspect it doesn’t tire you too much to be alone,
your own shadow, your own memory, your own voice.
An old left shoe,
you raise your forehead on this Sunday,
lighting up these walls, these streets,
these faces that seem real.

  ♦

THIS POEM

Every now and then I read this poem again.
I like it: it’s short and easy to forget.
There’s no point, it hurries by, it has no time.
You get to the end looking for something else.

  ♦

MILES AWAY

A black trumpet flies
through the walls
of an empty building.

It goes faster and farther
than this poor concrete night
with all its broken windows and lightbulbs.

The dust on the ground perks up,
letters jump from the old books
and now every object speaks of the sweet
and golden smell of the marvelous sound.

What will we do when it stops?
the nail asks the wall.
I don’t know, I don’t know, says the hammer.

What will we do when it stops?
the bottles repeat, I don’t know,
filling the stairways and halls.

  ♦

CARNIVAL’S END

The military parade is over
and only bums stroll down Ocean Drive
just an alley now where nobody’d like to die.

This year there were fireworks
and in his speech the President
was able to wring out tears and applause
and a minute of silence for the three
pilots who died in aerial pirouettes.

The military parade is over,
the drumrolls have ended,
and so have the patriotic cannon-shots
and the march of the horses with shiny boots.

Where did they get all those uniforms?
Will they have to wash them and return them
tonight already or tomorrow morning?
What will happen to the frogmen
and the new SWAT team the rest of the year?

Thirty thousand uniformed soldiers
saluted the Presidential platform.
Now, when all you hear is papers
rasping down the street, what beds
will welcome such a contingent?

 

 ♦

COMPOSITIONS

Composition 6
Like the burnt-up head
of a match between the butts,
on the warm ash of the ashtray,
with its feeble tower of smoke
and its tiny yellow glow,
there’s a man sitting between the trees,
on the reefs.

 

Composition 7
When it rushes out of the chimneys
bent on filling the sky
with mannered gushes,
the milky smoke makes the whole industry
crane its neck.
Its traces can be clearly seen
on the naked back of the Ozama.
Smudged with oil like a mechanic
who’s heard the whistle at six o’clock sharp,
the river runs like crazy to go get drunk.

 

Composition 12

Night cloaked the sea in silence
like the fog this street,
cautiously taking the corner first.

 

Composition 13
This voice is a place
where I stay and listen
to how the wind
bumps into corners, objects, edges,
closing doors and windows,
opening little eddies;
undoubtedly a place in the night,
where I move like a rocking-chair
when nobody’s home.

 

Composition 15
The first time I read “The River-Merchant’s Wife”
I believed Pound had written it himself.
“This poet’s a big deal,” I thought.
Then I found out it was a very loose
translation of the poem by Li Po.

In the book there’s a portrait
where a drunkard is holding up
the Chinese poet by his shoulders.
There’s something broken-down
in the poet’s sad and happy face,
hidden behind his eyes
as behind the word Personae.

 ♦

THE REPUBLIC

In the public square, the Minister of Culture
revealed the names of the poets chosen
to sing the new myths of the modern city.
Quickly statues were raised in their honor
and women wept in ecstasy
when Congress kept up the farce
by declaring them accursed.
That is how they began: the parties, the feasts,
the orgies, and the other perks of glory.
Meanwhile I scurry off in haste
through hateful avenues and tunnels,
my head uncovered, without laurels, without hair.
I guess if I don’t have better luck
when I come back next year to the city,
I’d better start working at some other trade.

 ♦


Homero Pumarol is one of the foremost younger poets in the Dominican Republic.  He has published six books of verse, among them Fin de Carnival (Carnival’s End) and Poesía Reunida 2000-2011 (Collected Poems 2000-2011).  Pumarol’s work has appeared in several major anthologies of contemporary poetry, such as the Latin American Twenty-First Century anthology and the Essential Anthology of Dominican Poetry.  Along with Frank Báez, he is a founding member of the musical group and poetry collective El Hombrecito (www.elhombrecito.com).

Spanish-language original versions here | Introduction by Hoyt Rogers.

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alba
alba
6 years ago

great job as usual, homero.

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