Falsas maniobras / Rafael Cadenas

In 1966, Rafael Cadenas published his second collection of poems, Falsas maniobras [False Maneuvers], which included the following two poems. The full version of "Fracaso" and the prose poem "Hace algun tiempo solia dividirme..." were the result of Cadenas' efforts to develop a quieter, less rhetorical style in his poetry, after the intense prose poems of his first book. Following Falsas maniobras, Cadenas stopped publishing for the next decade. In Entrevistas (2000), he discussed the role of poetry within the socio-political context of contemporary Venezuela:

"To study is revolutionary, to not throw rocks. How long are we going to spend following those primitive impulses, with heroic fantasies, with messianic intimations? Many of our revolutionaries have stayed in the sixties. Of course, the apathy among some of the youth is understandable. In a world that lacks coherence, it's not easy for a young person to find anything on their own. Something that intrigues me in that youth is its lack of curiosity. It seems they lack curiosity for anything, as if they don't like to learn about anything, as if knowledge for them is worthless."


Recently, I tended to divide myself...

Recently, I tended to divide myself into innumerable people. I became successively, and without one thing disturbing the others, a saint, a traveler, an acrobat.
In order to please others and myself, the images of my transformations assaulted me, isolating me further. Multiplicity launched herself against me. I conjured her.
It was a parade of disunited citizens, the shadows of no region.
In the end, things were not as I had thought.
Above all, I've missed among the ghosts the one who walks unseen by me.
Maybe the secret of gentleness is there, between the lines, like an unnamed splendor, and my unjustified pride will give way to a great peace, an immediate clarity.
Until then.



What I've taken for victory is only smoke.

Failure, language of depths, clue toward another more
demanding space, its letter hard to read

When you placed your mark on my forehead I never
thought of the message you brought, more precious
than all triumphs.
Your burning profile has followed me and I didn't know
what it was to save myself.
You've relegated me to the corners for my benefit,
you denied
me easy success, you've denied me escape.
It was me you were defending by denying my shine.
Out of pure love for me, you've crafted this emptiness
that has made me speak feverishly to an absent girl
on so many nights.
To protect me, you've allowed others to pass,
you've made it so that women prefer someone more
resolute, you displaced me from suicidal tasks.

You've always arrived on time.

Yes. Your wounded, spit-upon, hated body has
received me in its purest form so as to hand me over
to the desert's clarity.
Because of my insanity, I cursed you, I've mistreated you,
I blasphemed against you.

You don't exist.
Delirious pride has invented you.

I owe you so much!
You lifted me to a new level, cleaning me with a rough
sponge, throwing me into my true battlefield, leaving
the weapons abandoned by victory for me.
You've led me by the hand to the only water that
reflects me.
Becasue of you, I don't know the anguish of playing a part,
maintaining my strength on a stair, climbing with your own
efforts, fighting for hierarchies, growing until bursting.
You've made me humble, silent and rebellious.
I don't sing for you because of what you are, but because of
what you've denied me. For not giving me another life. For
having limited me.

You've given me only nakedness.
It's true that you taught me harshly, and you yourself
were cautious! but you also gave me the happiness of
not fearing you.
Thank you for taking thickness away in return for wider letters.

Thanks to you who has denied my conceits.
Thank you for the wealth to which you've obliged me.
Thank you for building my clay dwelling.
Thank you for separating me.
Thank you.

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