Poems

VALERIE MEJER CASO Five Poems

Poems and Images from ‚ÄúWithout Republic‚ÄĚ
Photographs by Russell Monk
Translation by Torin Jensen

Napoleón

Tomado de la condición humana:
Su cabeza colosal,
los ojos tristes del poderoso
hombre tragado por Rusia,
sus patitas de cabra,
nuestra risa nerviosa:
nuestros políticos.

Napoleon

Taken from the human condition:
His colossal head,
the sad eyes
of the powerful man
swallowed by Russia,
his goat feet,
our nervous laugh:
our politicians.

 

Acordeonista

Una fotografía que ayuda
a no sumergirse
en una tierra de sombras
y a saber que la m√°scara es m√°s rostro
de uno mismo que la propia cara,
así como la nube
no es decoración del cielo, ni farsa
sino luz absorbida y flotante
la m√°scara es hueso y madera
antepasados que tocan
con esos dedos
canciones viejas
de un México de valles sucesivos
de loma en loma hasta llegar
a la casa del resplandor
al amor de sus amores

Accordionist

A photograph that keeps you
from diving
into a land of shadows
and knowing that the mask is more an image
of oneself than your own face,
like how the cloud
is neither a farce nor the sky’s
ornament
but light absorbed and floating
the mask is bone and wood
ancestors who play
with their fingers
old songs
of a Mexico of successive valleys
from hill to hill until arriving
at the home of the resplendent
al amor de sus amores

Dos caras

Y si alguien mintiera,
alguien como él,
y él, y ella, y nosotros y yo.
También como el tiempo,
presente
en el lóbulo de su oreja
escuchando como se mueve el viento
en un barrio en México
y la cara que mira atr√°s,
diciembre
con sus ojos hondos
de monedas gastadas
enero en marcha
con su lotería de ilusiones,
todos los boletos
comprados.

Two-faced

And if someone lied,
someone like him,
and him, and her, and us and me.
Like time too,
present
in his earlobe
listening to how the wind moves
through a neighborhood in Mexico
and the face that looks back,
December
with deep, well-worn
coins for eyes
January marching on
with his lottery hopes,
all the tickets
bought.

Dos de sobra

Nos quedan grandes los zapatos
(un país nos fue encomendado ya partido a la
mitad, nos confiaron el sur)
nos queda grande el sombrero, el bajo,
el cuerno de la abundancia,
el chaparrón
y esa enormidad es ya nuestro cuerpo
nuestro nuevo yo
una isla que se pegó a una playa
es ya ese país
que nos llena los brazos abiertos
y parece una panza, una joroba
una cabeza nueva

Two left over

Our shoes are still too big for us
(a country cut in half
was entrusted to us,
and we got the south)
the sombrero is still too big for us, the bass,
the cornucopia,
the downpour
and that enormity is still our body
our new self
an island stuck to a mainland
that country is our country
filling our open arms
and resembling a belly, a hump
a new head

Oración de la jaula

Qué fiera la dinamita
Qué delicadamente sostiene
su prisión

Pajarita fiera
pajarita triste
bajo la luna rota
miras sin canción

Viento, escoba,
bruma, ola
que en el pico
de la mujer-paloma
soplas sin estrofas
murmura algo
un sonsonete
una rima
sin rabia
que plazcan
a Dios y al √°ngel
a la virgen y al tiempo
la, la la, la,
la, la, la
tras-tras

Prayer of the cage

How delicately
dynamite-fierce
she sustains
her prison
Fierce little bird
sad little bird
beneath the broken moon
you watch, songless
Wind, broom,
haze, wave
in the beak
of the dove-woman
you blow without stanzas
murmur something
singsong
a rhyme
without fury
that pleases
God and the angel
the virgin and the tempo
la, la la, la,
la, la, la
tap-tap

Painter and poet Valerie Mejer was born in Mexico City. She is the author of the poetry collections¬†Rain of the Future¬†(2013), translated by¬†C.D. Wright,¬†Forrest Gander, and Alexandra Zelman;¬†de la ola, el atajo¬†(2009);¬†Geograf√≠as de Niebla¬†(2008);¬†Esta Novela Azul¬†(2004), which was translated by Michelle Gil-Montero¬†as¬†This Blue Novel¬†(2013); and¬†Ante el Ojo de C√≠clope¬†(1999). Her book¬†De Elefante a Elefante¬†(1997) won the Spanish Government‚Äôs ‚ÄúGerardo Diego 1966‚ÄĚ International Award.¬†Mejer is also the recipient of two¬†CONACULTA¬†grants as well as a grant from Sistema Estatal de Creadores for her translations of Australian poet¬†Les Murray‚Äôs work.

Russell Monk’s sense of curiosity and love for the unusual and the offbeat has inspired and driven him to make photographs all over the globe for the last thirty plus years. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, GQ, Esquire, the London Sunday Times and Time. Russell currently lives between the historic town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a country with which he feels a strong affinity, and the great city of Toronto.

Torin Jensen is a poet and translator living in Denver, CO¬†His poetry and translations have appeared in numerous journals including¬†The Volta,¬†Asymptote,¬†Radioactive Moat,¬†Circumference, and the¬†Harriet Foundation Poetry Blog, and he’s the author of¬†Phase-sponge [ ] the keep¬†(Solar Luxuriance, 2014). His criticism has appeared in¬†One Good Eye,¬†Yes Poetry, and¬†Entropy¬†and he’s the co-editor of¬†Goodmorning Menagerie, a chapbook press for experimental poetry and translation.