Reviví caminos en minutos / Jesús Montoya

I Relived the Roads in Minutes

I relived the roads in minutes, bags of trash, eyes, hands. I relived damp roads, empty, imperiously empty. I relived the roads where youth was a glance and nothing more. I relived the roads and sang my undernourished will in silence. I relived roads and felt the accident, the bus, the week’s broken money, I felt the crowd churning, spitting my reflection, I felt the absence of those who loved me and I relived more roads without calling attention to myself, pointing at the sun with a flower, with a hand caressing my shout. Long live the street, the night, the poem, the eternal curse.

{ Jesús Montoya, Las noches de mis años, Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 2016 }


Imagino el futuro desde las calles / Jesús Montoya

I Imagine the Future from the Streets

I imagine the future from the streets
cold and hideous like beautiful years
coming to find me on tiptoes,
years kept at sea,
years of foam,
years in the shape a wave
that cross the streets
where I suddenly need
to write and write until I break;
because I always want to write when I can’t,
because the poems open up
like scars on my hands
when I think I’m a filthy
seer who walks like a blind man
without realizing he can’t even see,
because I always seem to be standing on the heights
and I never remember my falls,
because I know my past and its own distance
and I still love it.
I imagine the future,
I imagine its brevity on my skin,
a caress,
a melody hidden in the breeze.
I imagine the future
and I despise it.
I imagine the future
and I only imagine it,
so I won’t have to remember it.

{ Jesús Montoya, Las noches de mis años, Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 2016 }


Escriba, escriba / Jesús Montoya

Write, Write

Write, write,
write and don’t be nervous, don’t get hung up,
without any hands.
Write from memory against the morning light,
write about the afternoon at night,
night is the mother of poetry,
of eyes.
Write where the moon would be in your poem.
Write the years and the shades that insist on bending
like smoke on the corners.
Write against sleep from sleep;
write a girl a kiss and a hug for your
Write because the mountains are also
falling from your eyes.
Write desperately,
write calmly,
Get moving with your legs.
Sit down and go and find yourself and tell me why
you still believe life ends where this poem begins.

{ Jesús Montoya, Las noches de mis años, Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 2016 }


Adversario / Rafael Cadenas


You live
with simple fruition
though gripped
by your counterbeing.


Guided by Lao-Tze you
run errands to find
the route you haven’t lost.


Oblivion steps aside,
implants quietude,
corrects posture.

We see each other differently,
as space.

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


Te has dejado llevar / Rafael Cadenas

You’ve Let Yourself Drift

You’ve let yourself drift.
Maybe another path
waited for you in vain.

You’re a smiling

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


En una escuela / Rafael Cadenas

At A School

The children’s hands
joined in celebrating poetry
formed a flower I brought home with me.


Are you present in this moment?
We let go, but the knots cling
to our neck though we suspend
time, god of fright.


José Balza tells me from the heart
of the West, in a patio in Salamanca:
the trip should be pleasant.

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


Un viejo samurai / Rafael Cadenas

An Old Samurai

An old samurai
laments having dedicated
himself to war, instead of living.

{ Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Madrid: Pre-Textos, 2016 }


The Night: Rodrigo Blanco Calderón’s Homage to Venezuelan Poet Darío Lancini

                    [Photo: Luisa Fontiveros]

In The Night, Rodrigo Blanco Calderón has one of his characters speak the following phrase many people might easily identify with: “The same thing happens with writers: they offer us a phrase or an image that can eventually change our lives, and when we return from the revelation and want to find its source, it turns out they’ve been dead for many years, like how they say happens with extinct stars and the trail of their brightness.”

When he hears this phrase, the writer evokes the two times he spoke with Darío Lancini. One was at the Chacao Cultural Center and the other was at the El Buscón bookstore. “When I would remember those encounters, they increased my fascination while I was writing the novel. For me he was already a master, but I didn’t really know everything he had done during his life. So when I wrote this type of fictional biography, I was surprised that I hadn’t quite realized who I was so lucky to be talking with.”

As a writer, Blanco Calderón lamented the fleetingness of those encounters with the poet, that weren’t enough to satisfy his interest in a character he kept exploring further and further in his story, where he rescues him and even pays homage to him. “I had been fascinated for a long time with his book Oír a Darío and his palindromes. I began to formally write the novel the day after he died in 2010. Something sparked in me, it was automatic. Intuitively I always thought his life would make a great novel. While I was researching, I realized I was right.”

The novel by Blanco Calderón, born in 1981, is set in various types of chaos, Caracas today, with its routines, darkness and fears, where Darío lived, and where two characters from Blanco Calderón's short stories also live: the former literary promise Pedro Álamo and the forensic psychiatrist Miguel Ardiles.

What’s the reason for the repercussions and interest that have emerged for your novel?

I can mention what I’ve been told and what I’ve read. Obviously, there’s a political interest regarding the situation in Venezuela. A circumstance like the electricity blackouts is incomprehensible in various European countries. It’s sad, but there’s a certain exoticism about our backwardness. Beyond that first reason which is the context, there are also those qualities that aren’t up to me to talk about. I’ve been told that some people are fascinated by Darío’s life. Most of them didn’t know he existed. They searched some of the book’s events on the Internet and were amazed to discover he actually existed, which has also been the case for those readers who’ve looked up the Edmundo Chirinos case.

Could you talk about that encounter between the characters Pedro Álamo and Miguel Ardiles?

Miguel Ardiles appears in my first book of short stories, there’s a continuity. The same with Pedro Álamo, the main character in the short story “El biombo” from Los invencibles (2007). It’s been interesting to see their paths cross. For me the figure of the psychiatrist is the contemporary substitute for what could have been, up to the 19th century, the priest, an authority who receives the confluence of people’s confessions, secrets and trauma. Now, regarding the failed writer, I’m attracted to those types of characters. Both of them have narrative potential.

Some critics classify The Night as a gothic novel. Do you agree?

That’s a classification one of the characters in the novel makes, that he wants to write what he calls gothic realism. A lot of times people are repeating what the character says. If you go beyond the first chapter you realize it’s not quite so, that it’s part of an unfinished project. The Night flirts with being a gothic novel, even a detective novel, but it can’t be classified as either of those. They’re genres with a structure I don’t adhere to.

I noticed that in your acknowledgements you clarify that, despite consulting sources, this is a work of fiction. Weren’t you tempted to let the doubt remain?

That clarification is a symptom of the place where I wrote: Caracas, the capital of a lawless country. Despite being fiction, I reproduce some stories that might certain sensibilities. Also, you never know what someone might use to attack you. Fortunately —or maybe unfortunately— for writers, Chavismo is an illiterate dictatorship. Regardless, I felt the need to safeguard my work.

You’re a short story writer who decided to extend into the novel. At any time did it feel like an uphill battle and did you consider abandoning it?
I never considered abandoning it, but there was a difficult moment. When it came time to write the second part of the novel, Darío Lancini’s life, I thought I had enough with what I had researched up until then, especially in terms of written references. When I began to record testimonies about him I realized what a complex and interesting life he led. I had to do journalistic work, to put it another way, about a person who didn’t leave many traces, someone who was closed and who distanced himself from the literary world.

If you were traveling to Venezuela and they found a copy of your novel in the suitcase at immigration, what would you tell the functionary who asks what it’s about?
I would use labels. I’d say it’s about vampires and wolves, that it has nothing to do with Venezuela.

What do you hope will happen to the reader who finishes The Night?
One hopes that when they reach the last page, that punch you’ve prepared is effective and, as Julio Cortázar would say, knocks them out. And once this happens, the reader goes back to the first page and starts to read again. Of course, these are fantasies that go beyond our capacity for reading, with so many things to read and so little time.

You’re in Paris now. How does one’s perception of Venezuela change when you’re abroad?
Everything becomes sharper. You feel what’s happening with more anguish, you realize the backwardness this government has plunged the country into, especially when you’re amazed at having quality of life. There’s also the anxiety of being far away and not being able to help. My family and my wife are still in Venezuela. But certain cycles have to happen so we can move forward.

Will you return to Venezuela?
My stay here is tied to a doctoral dissertation. I’d love to live in Venezuela again, but I’m still not at the point where I can ask myself if that’ll happen or not. I hope to.

The Night was published by Alfaguara in Spain, by Gallimard in France and recently by Madera Fina in Venezuela. Two weeks ago it received the Rive Gauche Prize, established in 2011 by the writer and critic Laurence Biava for the purpose of recognizing one French novel, one novel translated into French and a literary journal. The author is currently writing a dissertation at University of Paris 13 about the work of novelist Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez and Venezuelan immigration to Spain.

{ Humberto Sánchez Amaya, El Nacional, 11 July 2016 }


Salvoconducto: I / Adalber Salas Hernández

Safe Passage: I

Caracas, those about to die don’t salute you.

They have no more hands to lift,
they’ve been cut off, they’ve been torn off
by the dogs walking on two legs at night
or they lost them in some sordid wager
cruel as your name.

And they don’t kneel either, those about
to die, this metallic trembling that
cuts through their backs doesn’t let them,
threading their vertebrae, twisting
their gait. A trembling that seems like it’s
brought from the world’s first cold.

They breathe your smoke, your molasses grass
and decomposed meat and burning
lead beneath the sun, that fills
your bronchioles, overwhelms your palate. Ungrateful
smell of garbage trucks and remorseful tar,
Caracas, all these dry mouths are yours.

We leave you childhood hardened
on a few streets, by the taste of bread,
in the first robbery, the first sunrise
hollowed out by gunshots and rain. It’s all yours,
this breath we own, we’re taking it. Those about
to die watch you like undomesticated
beasts and smile at you, toothless.

We don’t salute you, though we live
in your sand, in the dust that made us
now blending into our skin.
We’ve already sifted through your tired, dirty bones,
pruned by blindness. We know you, Caracas.
Each morning, the stone of your laughter
explodes against our forehead. We know your gestures
like a carnivorous mother, we’ve seen
where you bite your own tail.

We don’t salute you and no one even blinks.
No one notices the accumulated rust in
our voices, no one sees in our faces
how we’ve already understood, that regardless
the prose of our days will be abrupt
like your alleys
and the hour of our disappearance
will have the pity of your stray bullets.

{ Adalber Salas Hernández, Salvoconducto, Valencia, España: Pre-Textos, 2015 }


Venezuelan novelist Rodrigo Blanco Calderón Wins Prix Rive Gauche 2016 for The Night

                    [Photo: Javier Oliaga]

On June 30th, Rodrigo Blanco Calderón’s vision of an out of synch and neurotic Caracas was awarded the 2016 Rive Gauch Prize in Paris. This literary prize founded by Laurence Biava in 2011 has only been awarded to four international writers: Jeffrey Eugenides (USA) in 2013, Edward St Aubyn (England) in 2014, Gary Shteyngart (Russia/USA) in 2015 and, this year, the recipient was the Venezuelan Rodrigo Blanco Calderón.

This is the fourth Venezuelan book to receive a prize this year: Rafael Cadenas was awarded the Federico García Lorca International Poetry Prize in Spain, Yolanda Pantin received the 2015 Poetas del Mundo Latino Víctor Sandoval Prize in Mexico and Alberto Barrera Tyszka took home the XI Tusquets Prize for Fiction in Spain.

“At first it was a long, unexpected blackout that lasted five hours. Caracas seemed like an anthill that had been uncorked. Beyond the cancelled appointments, the checks that weren’t cashed, the rotting food and the collapse of the subway, Miguel Ardiles actually remembers that day with an almost paternal fondness: the city experienced the stupor of being a cave and a labyrinth.”

These are the opening sentences of The Night, Rodrigo Blanco Calderón’s first novel published earlier this year in three editions around the world: with the small independent press Madera Fina in Venezuela, Alfaguara in Spain and Gallimard in France.

Previously recognized for his short story collections Las rayas (2011), Los invencibles (2007) and Una larga fila de hombres (2005), he’s now a prize-winning novelist.

You can read the first chapter of The Night (in Spanish), at Prodavinci.

{ Orianna Camejo, Efecto Cocuyo, 30 June 2016 }


Owner of a Lonely Heart / Ednodio Quintero

Owner of a Lonely Heart
—a song by Yes—

They jumped me on the corner, and before I could react they were already taking me away, almost dragging me by the armpits. The attackers were two strong individuals, armed to the teeth, dark sunglasses, keepers of the law. We climbed the steps to the Palace of Justice, an iron mass of concrete and mirrored windows, ninety stories high, the tallest building in the city. I knew there wouldn’t be a trial nor any right to defense: they’d execute me with a shot to the head, in an airless room. A clamoring multitude was waiting in the reception room, they were celebrating a carnavalesque ritual and fighting over the belongings of a beggar who thought he was a king. I took a chance during a moment of confusion and escaped. I got into an express elevator that was heading to the top floor, ninety seconds is all it took. I ran towards the terrace, from where I could see the cursed city from a steep height. I was the owner of a lonely, frozen heart, my heart. I took a running start and threw myself into the void, heading south. I’ve always dreamed I was a falcon.

{ Ednodio Quintero, Combates, Barcelona: Editorial Candaya, 2009 }


Muros / Guillermo Sucre


The stone perpetuates its own solitude
Constructs a vision
These walls don’t limit the sky
They concentrate it
The wind doesn’t blow in the backyard
Where I stop
A sun overwhelms me in its gleam
A crevice an armed salamander
Forgotten goddess restoring me in wounded fire
Something isolates me from the world
Blind I see myself with the eyes
That tomorrow will be a memory
Bird wandering in the unique foliage
Where its music is more limpid
The house is the labyrinth and I know a wooden plank
Encompasses it at night with stealth
This is where space begins
Another secret is spaced
I don’t name the fig tree
I’m talking about this thin, eroded
Line of light
That separates me from what separates me
I’m in an unknown city
Between higher walls
Ivy devoured by rust
Nothing belongs to me
And everything belongs to me
I move through the dead leaves that autumn governs
I’m just passing through
One step from what awaits me
From one city to another
Grey walls frozen gusts
Wine and the face I suddenly discover
An abandoned
Topaz stone
Caryatid with a single candescent glance
Everything there is of me in its
Bold nakedness

Guillermo Sucre, La mirada (Caracas: Tiempo Nuevo, 1970)


Marginal / Guillermo Sucre


I am this land I name
These environs this fire where a glance agitates
I tend to divide days months years
In a brief pause from my life
If I live I also belong to that torrent of debris
Marginal wall
A vine has to persist when it returns
Burning lime or stone or cracks
That hard muted light moves me

Guillermo Sucre, La mirada (Caracas: Tiempo Nuevo, 1970)


Tres historias perdidas / Rubi Guerra

Three Lost Stories

On the Barque

     We row along the river’s slow current. Standing on the flat bottom of the boat we pushed ourselves along with poles made slippery by the sweat and humidity. My two companions leave the last of their energy in the struggle against the viscous and absorbent riverbed. A yellow sky, unprotected by clouds, hangs over our heads like a threat. A tenuous cloud of vapor rises from the surface of the water. Shadows move amidst the palm trees on the far shore, we don’t know if they belong to animals or to the inhabitants of the devastated region.
     A wide estuary opens to our efforts. The waters of the river seem to spin around themselves, they form whirlpools of unhealthy colors, as though they couldn’t find an escape toward an impossible sea. The heat becomes less crippling.
     We advance toward a line of big mansions with wooden doors. As we drawn near, we notice that the iridescent water reaches the lowest windows. The fire has consumed the rooftops, the doors have fallen off the hinges and there are gunpowder and blood stains on the walls. We direct the boat toward one of them, more elevated than the rest, protected from the waters by a marble staircase.
     We agree to spend the night there. Hunger torments us. Even in that condition we manage to sleep, aided by exhaustion and the will to annul the world.
     I wake up with the first light of the sun. I shake my companions and we’re soon on our feet, ready to continue our journey, to reach the sea, to move as far away as possible and forget this region that’s been forgotten by the gods. The golden reflections of the newborn sun on the water and the facades of the mansions make the horror of the destruction disappear for an instant and allow a fugitive beauty to prevail.
     We search amid the underbrush and palm trees for the way out of the estuary. Slow spirals disorient us, but we eventually find it, hidden between scrubs and fallen trunks. The jungle surrounds us once again and accompanies us for hours.
     After unprecedented efforts one of my companions manages to catch a large fish. Three little horns stand out on its head. We gut it and lay its meat to dry on the planks of the boat. Hours later we devour it, sating the hunger that threatens to bring us down.
     Long stretches of jungle have disappeared, consumed by the fires. From the dead and blackened earth rises the smoke of the charred trees and animals. Further ahead, standing in the mud of the shore that stains her dress, a woman makes signs at us. We manage to drawn near and she climbs onto the boat. She stretches out on the floor with her eyes closed, her hands over her mouth in a gesture of stopping some words that she will never pronounce. We look at her and then back at each other; she’s a beautiful young woman despite her pale face that seems to announce death. I touch her on the shoulder; I offer her the remnants of the raw fish.
     At night we’re stunned by the icy glimmer of the stars. The constellations spin while we take turns rowing.
     The presence of the woman, who remains apart and silent, has made my companions stern and between them they’re plotting some type of violence. I decide to keep one step ahead of their designs: I wait for my turn in charge of the vessel; when I see them sleeping I toss the one closest to me into the thick water, where he sinks without even screaming. I hit the other one behind his ear with the pole. He tries to stand up; blood runs down his neck. I unleash a second, terrible blow to his skull. The sound of broken bones wakes up the woman, who begins to shriek as though she were crazy. The whiteness of her thighs awakens my drowsy senses.


The Tavern

     The two men —one old and the other young— arrive at the tavern. Like many other travelers in this corner of the country, they seem like they’re running from something, this is what the tavern keeper thinks. The majority of them come from the south and are heading north, toward the ports. The desert is in the east. The tavern is the last human establishment before the sands and the yellow stones that no one has crossed in centuries. The cities of the west, it is said, are cursed and have vanished from the memories of men.
     The old man and the young man get drunk every day with the liquor that is distilled in town. Some people affirm this drink brings on hallucinations.
     One night the tavern keeper stays at the table with them. There’s no one else around and he’s bored, so he’s willing to listen to a story. The youngest of the travelers affirms that the old man has been to one of the lost cities. The tavern keeper laughs. He’s already heard too many similar stories. “This one’s true,” the young man affirms. After a painful trip in which his companions and the animals for transporting their goods died, the old man —who wasn’t old at the time— arrived at a city of iron doors and stone walls. The doors were rusted and open, the temples had been decayed by time and by the grains of sand dragged along by the wind. In one building he came across a fountain from which a cold and crystalline water was bubbling. During the day he would explore buildings in which no utensil was left, no tool, no tapestry or jewel, not even a pottery fragment, as though its inhabitants had left taking everything with them, or as if thieves had visited the place for a thousand years taking even the slightest vestige. At night, he was visited by the specters of the city’s inhabitants, who came before him to voice their complaints as though he were a magistrate from the beyond. The translucent apparitions had terrible, sad faces.
     The tavern-keeper smiles reluctantly. Another absurd story.
     Just before dawn he wakes up and gets out of bed with careful movements. He’s been married for forty years and he’s still careful not to wake her when it’s still early. He goes outside. In the sky, the stars fade one by one. A cold and fast breeze coming from the desert shakes his wool clothing. He contemplates the infinite amplitude that extends before his sight as though it were an extinct planet. He too dreamed of one day crossing the great sands and conquering a forgotten kingdom.
     He puts on his clothing and blows on his hands before heading out to the corral to feed the chickens.
     His insipid days anticipate the indifferent sleep of eternity.


The Campaign

     We initiated the war to avenge the affront perpetrated against one of our women and to wash her husband’s honor. For forty five days we laid siege to our enemies’ city; we devastated their fields and took control of their flocks. At night, we would light giant bonfires that we nourished with animal grease to honor our God and to torment the starving defenders with its aroma. One morning the doors gave way to the push of the timbers. We penetrated like a man who claims his rights from a frigid woman, with blood and violence. First the defenders of the walls fell, then the priests who approached to negotiate; then came the men capable of picking up any weapon or tool; after that the elderly, the women and children, some of them disemboweled, cut in half, others slain quickly. Finally, we slaughtered all the animals remaining inside the walls. The blood mixed with the earth formed a thick, hot mud that stuck to our sandals.
     Our victory was not complete. Four hundred enemy soldiers had managed to escape through a secret door that led to a narrow mountain pass where they had hidden. Exalted by fervor and fury, we pursued them through the stone gorges until they were cornered. Then, our general, wise and prudent, spoke from his war chariot:
     “Brave warriors, God has favored us with his blessing; it has been a glorious day, but now the massacre must cease. Those who await death between the stone and the edges of our swords are brothers to us. It is true that they have offended us, but we worship the same God and speak the same language, their hearts beat like our own. We cannot allow their seed to be extinguished.”
     We made vows of peace. We gave them wine and food.
     We initiated a new campaign. Our army went to a neighboring city. We laid siege to it, broke its defenses, killed the soldiers and gathered the survivors in the plaza. Our general spoke once more:
     “Every man and woman who has had the experience of sleeping with a man should be irrevocably destroyed.”
     Then we took four hundred of their virgins and handed them over to our brothers. We slit the throats of all the rest.

Translator’s note: These texts are included as an appendix to Rubi Guerra’s novel, La tarea del testigo [The Task of the Witness], about the final days of the Venezuelan poet José Antonio Ramos Sucre (Cumaná, Venezuela, 9 June 1890 - Geneva, Switzerland, 13 June 1930).

Image of José Antonio Ramos Sucre in the mural “Letras y Tiempos” by Francisco Maduro Inciarte at the Liceo Andrés Bello school in Caracas. Photo taken in 2010.

{ Rubi Guerra, La tarea del testigo, Caracas: Lugar Común, 2012 / Fondo Editorial El perro y la rana, 2007 }


Al sur / Guillermo Sucre

To the South

If a certain gleam awaits me
I see the Southern constellations
A sky my eyes have covered a thousand times
Mirror of pride or terror
Murmuring faces in the shadows
Burnt stars
Some I no longer recognize
A long absence a sacred glance
Sonorous doubtful light
I go and see death shine
With a blind hand I close his eyes
His name was Juan
Sunny silex syllable
Subdued rivers thick frontiers
The earth was vaster for him than his dreams
He left the body his hands touched without sullying
The transparent elegy of sex
Solitude and passion
A more arduous flight and inhospitable air
Mother memorable madrepores
Ardent loyalty
I was allowed to know his radiant purity
I’m not bound to lament
I enter the prairie of my childhood
Which also belonged to your silence
Its glance dawns like a bird over the river
Promise of sun
Pollen I now disperse
Nothing is seen for the last time
Her eyes keep passing through my life
I see what I didn’t see yesterday
Burning streets walls that time doesn’t smooth
Though it calms us
City purified by stones
The waters bathe in nostalgia
The great rains are a house
In the lightning glow
Those elements were my only wisdom

Guillermo Sucre, La mirada (Caracas: Tiempo Nuevo, 1970)


En los caminos del abismo (III) / Alejandro Sebastiani Verlezza

On the Paths to the Abyss (III)

                              [Von fragile, ASV]

                                  Save yourself
                                  on that trail
                                  Yolanda Pantin, País

                                  maybe we don’t exist anymore,
                                  but we can’t realize it yet
                                  Luis Gerardo Mármol Bosch, Purgatorio

“To begin, we’re all out.”

“The fatherland.”

“Are they conspiring?”

“For all eternity.”

“What’s up with that cough?”

“Well, the body.”


“Hungover, way down low.”

“You leaving?”

“Yeah, to the altars.”

“With who?”

“With the avengers.”

“Are there that many of them?”

“They all live in my system.”

“Oh, really?”

“Since the Republic was born.”

“Something happened with the midwife.”

“Poor thing. Even the heroes weren’t buried. It’s just that you can still hear a lot of screams and bellowing way off in the bushes, especially when the rain passes and the roots are stirred up. But we believe, we believe. We cling to it.”

“Do they hear you?”

“When I pray. They sound, appear by the dozens.”

“They speak from a blurry, opaque spot you can hardly tune into.”

“I’m the only one who can feel them, understand?”

“Invite me to breakfast.”

“I said no.”

“Are you accustomed to servitude already?”

“It becomes beautiful when it’s voluntary.”

“Is that so?”

“These are historic efforts.”

“What a shame.”

“It’s my life, my struggle.”

“Our death, everyone’s, doesn’t this implicate you?”

“You all rush too much.”

“It smells really bad.”

“It gives so much.”

“Aren’t you afraid?”

“I lost the pain. I lost my voice three years ago.”

“Now I just drag myself along the roads. Many of us live like this.”

“It’s better not to see, better to pretend nothing’s happening, better to leave.”

“Your boss has given you a certain metaphysics.”

“I’m indebted to him even for that.”

“And you can’t go backwards?”

“Can I?”

“Frankly, no.”

“Do you have for your ticket?”

“I’m clean.”

“The roads are poisoned.”

“There are specters.”

“Places you can’t see.”

“They’re burning. Even the ones furthest away they’re burning.”

“And you?”


“Not even a blink?”

“I forgot about you, soul.”

“You’re so fried.”

{ Alejandro Sebastiani Verlezza, Papel Literario, El Nacional, 1 June 2016 }


La segunda versión / Guillermo Sucre

The Second Version

I myself didn’t even know what dark allegory
I was seeking. I wrote a poem and named it
“the secret plot,” as if I were naming
an enigmatic —I supposed it was more
elusive and infinite— plot. All I did
was naïvely spin the story
and its tautologies. Any life,
we know, is only its nakedness, that
slow plundering of time. How could I
overwhelm you, earth, with naive
pretensions. I just wanted to return
to your inclemency.

                       Always, I wrote,
the tree of the storm will unleash itself
over the River; in the mornings
the City will always flower beneath
young light, and in the eyes of a child
the vigil always and the purification

                Life flows and changes,
but not everything that changes flows
with life. Preserve, earth, these
images, write with them what has
loved you. They are also epitaphs.

January, 1989

La segunda versión (1994)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


La vida, aún / Guillermo Sucre

Life, Still

Where’d the happiness of living go?
The unscrupulous slowness in conversation
and the clear glance of pride,
the glimmer of character and fate,
the hand that knew how to prohibit and consecrate,
the bodies that thanked the soul
and agile like vines wrapped
in nights of pleasure and also
pain; everything that was ceremony,
frugal or generous celebration, where is it
now, under what tinsel
and hate and opprobrium is it lying? Are there beings
who still live in the climate’s friendship,
breathe the earth’s vapor
at sunrise, who bathe in the sea
like a purification? Is beauty
still beautiful, does her face light up
on ill-fated days and do we love it
with patience?

                 Or have we only been
rancorous blood, patient only
for malice and insults?
Did we ever really know passion,
the suffering of its long wound?
Or was there only enough soul
for astuteness, threatened
honor, devoted vanity? Were we
once fair without enduring
mockery? And meanwhile there
was the desperate ridicule
amidst the misery, and did we have
no pity, no reverence? And meanwhile,
because of everything it takes to be
a man, were we merely Venezuelan

                 Or was life simply
fallacious, and venal. The only one who didn’t know
how to be austere, she didn’t retire on time,
she didn’t even have time to get
life insurance. A prostitute
for everyone: she was too beautiful
and only wanted to give pleasure,
or its illusion. Deep down, she never
thought she’d die. Now she seeks
refuge in memory, wanders
through desolate gardens thinking
she’s deciphering in the rose or jasmine she loved
the intimate, naked gleam
that lit her for the world. She is filling up
with ruins in the house covered
in vines. She realizes she no longer
matters, and cleans her masks.
Now she’s learning how to live her only
face: her secret agony.

La segunda versión (1994)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Soles / Guillermo Sucre


In some primordial landscape of my life
They awaken alone on the horizon
The clay in the sky opens up
The world’s first seed
Butterfly burning with the slowness of silence
Moderation and a long flight
The earth becomes transparent
It’s the first day and the last one
Torrent of clarity
Light and shadow are mirrors
The river passes through us its waters overflow
I see myself and have lost everything save
The moment that clarifies me
Owes them the memory that later explodes
In the delirium of midday
Sparkling head rolling
Allude to the abyss below
Cold fever a tree collapses
The beach cracks open invades me
The sweaty ocean of the shade
But in the end I always recover them
One afternoon a thousand years later in another country
With the same sacred glory

Guillermo Sucre, La mirada (Caracas: Tiempo Nuevo, 1970)


Hay la cabeza / Guillermo Sucre

There is the head

There is the head born in the mirror polished by
it appears like music coming back after a
      long forgetting
the light drawing it keeps the evening awake from where
      it emerges
remote like the bird pulsing in our
the skin burnt by the scars of the
it is the beloved head lying on the cliffs
      in the depths of the years
the salt destroys itself and dissolves into his hair
the beach the sun illuminates as it leaves
      fading on his forehead
his eyes fix the cold fulguration of someone
      who wakes up in the middle of a dream
      and no longer recognizes the world.

La vastedad (1988)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Y en los días de lenta lluvia / Guillermo Sucre

And on days of slow rain

And on days of slow rain we become patient like things. Notice the clarity of water and memory. The stones, the wall of the house grow closer. The sensitive grove of trees is there: its freshness touching us. Images behind a glass, we are the immobility of the world in a glance. And so we keep discovering, not solitude, but quietude. Like everything a hand draws or writes will sink and emerge from blankness. What’s dissipated by fate and also stripped. Meanwhile only the slow, ceremonious rain persists.

La vastedad (1988)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Mil novecientos sesentiséis / Guillermo Sucre

Nineteen sixty six

Nineteen sixty six: a late November afternoon. And suddenly the calm burst of light that envelops everything. What air was that air behind the persistent and heavy midday; taking its time and light, made of crystal, like a bird that stops flying when we breathe. The perfection of the sky: that still intimate and final splendor of the city that was about to be given to us. In the garden: the mahogany tree still not too slender, the acacias and the dance of the green and red. And you’re reading in a corner beside a large window. And you lift your eyes not as if looking to see the afternoon: as if returning from the long memory of having already seen it.

La vastedad (1988)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Pienso en las páginas que pasan / Guillermo Sucre

I think of the pages passing by

I think of the pages passing by
when I write
                    the days
that are erased
                    the signs
the occult
that silence slowly
        with sparkles
various suns already
the snows of Oakland at dusk
or at sunrise
                    the fire
two bodies graze hands
cover and push away
the wind
          the gust the word
sealed another blow no less
          in the end pride
of dying
          like a finger
of sand
          rubbing our eyes
writing within memory
the poem

                                        to Alejandra

En el verano cada palabra respira en el verano (1976)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Ya no estamos en el verano / Guillermo Sucre

We’re not in summer anymore

We’re not in summer anymore
But we are the summer
We were able to be another way
We were given another fate
We are earth incarnate
The sun plots our dreams
The sea your fragrance
Memory sifts through the sand
The water bathes you and you flower
Coral of desire
The air and your body dilate
Cup of transparency
The dry liquor of language subdues us
Solitude pride
Arc of the sky
                        with no horizon
Your body creates space
If a bird crosses
A lightning bolt scratches its eyes
The sea is illuminated and its white
          close on your skin
Salt that devours and it devours us
Brightness that blinds and it blinds us
We were given that fate
I was able to see myself
In your glimmer
                        in your gaze

La mirada (1970)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


El fin y el comienzo / Guillermo Parra

The end and the beginning

The end and the beginning
I step towards the world
Amid bodies that gather
A single desire
Copious like a sky
They are cities and seasons
Streets that lead to a single
And hard possession
Solar rose sex of the skies
Savage hydra
A thousand times I bit your thousand lips
I contemplated your thousand eyes
I made you starfish
Sonorous cliff
I drank sipped the wines in you
Beside your fire
I covered myself in your ashes
Your ireful hydras
You were the blind night
But I could see
Cracks passageways in the darkness
I would always exit
To the glowing fury
The earth irradiated in my eyes
I had its face
Visage of volcanic stone
Eruptions of dreams
The forests were breathing in my chest
The coasts the beaches
Writing of desire the sands
The abandonment of our fleetingness
The glory of our fleetingness
A few steps and a glance
Between stupor and the encounter

La mirada (1970)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


Memorable / Guillermo Sucre


I’m not there anymore I’m not there
I’ve slept on the animal stone that pulses
The river in the penumbra the nets
The stars tremble in their final gleam
And suddenly the shine that erases my name
The morning presiding all the encounters with yesterday
The peaceful fluttering city
The sky breathing inside the blue
The glare the consciousness of the sun
I say words only the wind recognizes
I think of other lives a forest
Sand dunes that intern me in time
I am alone I should be happy
That’s how we are when we come out of the shade
But I can’t find your eyes
I’m leaving everything is waiting for me
If you know me you know I live by the sea
With the seagulls
The wave’s eyelash opens
and closes over love
In Juangriego your skin divides the horizon
Day and night
Mirror and memory
Your sonorous glance like cliffs
They’re waiting for me I won’t stop
The red beast of the earth cracking
Stalks me I set sail
I’m ambushed by the air in Esnujaque
Idol of silence midday deciphers me
It writes for me in blood
Language of this extensive country
I always speak
And in whose blind habit I build myself
I come back but some things
Never come back with us

La mirada (1970)

{ Guillermo Sucre, Conversación con la intemperie. Seis poetas venezolanos, selección y prólogo de Gustavo Guerrero, Barcelona, España: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2008 }


El insomne / Vicente Gerbasi

The Insomniac

to Francisco Pérez Perdomo

The insomniac doesn’t rest.
He closes his eyes
and keeps seeing the specter
passing through the wall
and coming back with the shining,
opaque lamp
of the dead.
The insomniac touches the cold
wooden bed
and feels like he’s sleeping
in the coffin.
The insomniac opens
his eyes
and sees the specter again
passing through the wall
with its severed head.
The insomniac puts on the severed head
in place of his own head
and starts to scream,
but he doesn’t scream
because no one hears him.
The insomniac screams, screams,
but no one hears him.
The insomniac floats
in the silence of the Universe

{Vicente Gerbasi, El solitario viento de las hojas, Caracas: Tierra de Gracia Editores, 1989}


Sol poniente / Vicente Gerbasi

Setting Sun

The nostalgia
of an unknown country
in its golden clarity
when the orange groves
ripen their fruit
on the evening prairie.


Sol poniente

La nostalgia
de un país desconocido
en su claridad dorada
cuando los naranjos
maduran sus frutos
en la pradera del atardecer.

{Vicente Gerbasi, El solitario viento de las hojas, Caracas: Tierra de Gracia Editores, 1989}


Tres poemas / Rafael Cadenas

Three Poems

What the Tao did was play
with Basho, the pond and the frog
to allow the poet his great find.

Where the master lives
time is light, you’re
within reach of what’s happening.

An old samurai
laments having dedicated himself
to war, instead of living.


El Tao lo que hizo fue jugar
con Basho, el agua y la rana
para facilitarle al poeta el gran hallazgo.

Donde vive el maestro
el tiempo es leve, sólo
se está a la mira de lo que ocurre.

Un viejo samurái
Lamenta haberse dedicado
a la guerra, en vez de vivir.

( Rafael Cadenas, En torno a Basho y otros asuntos, Pretextos, 2016 }


Una forma de ser / Ramón Palomares (1935-2016)

A Way of Being

Here comes The Night
the one with stars in his fingernails,
a furious stride and dogs between his legs
lifting his arms like lightning
splitting cedars open
throwing branches all over himself,
very far away.

He comes in as if on horseback
and passes through the entrance
shaking the storm off his clothes.

And he climbs down and starts to inquire
and memorizes and extends his eyes.

He looks at the towns spread about
some on the slopes and others leaning on cliffs
and he walks into the houses
seeing how the women are
and investigates church sacristies and bell towers
frightened when he steps onto their stairwells.

And he sits on the stones
finding out forever.


Una forma de ser

Aquí llega el noche
el que tiene las estrellas en las uñas,
con caminar furioso y perros entre las piernas
alzando los brazos como relámpago
abriendo los cedros
echando las ramas sobre sí,
muy lejos.

Entra como si fuera un hombre a caballo
y pasa por el zaguán
sacudiéndose la tormenta.

Y se desmonta y comienza a averiguar
y hace memoria y extiende los ojos.

Mira los pueblos que están
unos en laderas y otros agachados en los barrancos
y entra en las casas
viendo como están las mujeres
y repasa las iglesias por las sacristías y los campanarios
espantando cuando pisa en las escaleras.

Y se sienta sobre las piedras
averiguando sin paz.

{ Ramón Palomares, Papel Literario, El Nacional, 8 March 2016 }


Máscaras / Ramón Palomares (1935-2016)


And here we exist at the limits of the lie
that our life is impalpable
that these represented people belong
to an owner of another order.

We always show up on stage punctually
to face the big audience. This is how we recreate under the stars
and make it to an appointment in the winds
stepping out ahead of our parties.

Our heart has been lent to other characters,
we murmur a dream and our lips are not responsible,
we’re beautiful or noble according to circumstance.
We’re assaulted by a random delirium
and we fall onto the stages under a foreign will.

And we have no life,
since we’re always driving through an unknown country
whose flowers interest us in a frivolous manner
and whose women love us in alcoves of falsehood.

We start a fire and her blue heart
crackles with more strength than ours
as the logs burn in the manner of blood.

We let ourselves be strange. Falsifiers.
Wearing an insincere emotion.
While we walk, exiled from our body
on an interminable stroll.


{ Ramón Palomares, El reino, Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 2001 }


De incógnito / Emilio Adolfo Westphalen


Turning the corner you stumble into an imposing ship’s rigging slowly heavily penetrating the noisy congested hemiplegic streets. The sunset stains crackling fabrics on the deserted deck purple. The distracted people blink and don’t notice the bejeweled and malignant Night taking over the city for ever.


De incógnito

Se tropieza uno al voltear la esquina con imponente arboladura de navío penetrando pesada lentamente en ruidosas calles congestionadas hemiplégicas. El poniente tiñe de púrpura telas restallantes sobre cubierta desierta. Guiña los ojos la gente distraída y no advierte cómo la Noche enjoyada y maligna se está adueñando de la ciudad para siempre.

Amago de poema - De lampo - De nada (1984)

{ Emilio Adolfo Westphalen, Simulacro de sortilegios: Poesía completa, Madrid: Visor Libros, 2006 }


Lo propio acaso del poeta / Emilio Adolfo Westphalen

Appropriate for A Poet Maybe

Puts his shoulder so the dead weight of the dream won’t crack and bring down the bulky and rambling cosmic ship —uncertain between fuller and emptier— reality so light and sweet because unmendable.


Lo propio acaso del poeta

Pone el hombro para que el peso muerto del sueño no agriete y traiga abajo abultada y divagante nave cósmica —incierta entre más lleno y más hueco— realidad ligera y tierna por irremendable.

Amago de poema - De lampo - De nada (1984)

{ Emilio Adolfo Westphalen, Simulacro de sortilegios: Poesía completa, Madrid: Visor Libros, 2006 }