¿Duerme usted, señor Presidente? / Capoulicán Ovalles

Are You Sleeping, Mr. President?

If instead of sleeping
you danced the tango
with your ministers
and your chief of loves
we would be able to
from night to night
your heels
like an archduke
or duchess.
We could just laugh
by watching you,
ridiculous as you are,
waiting for the applause
of all the frenetic

Of course we're all tired
and want a little entertainment,
like this one
watching you
with a lyre hanging
around your neck,
like a Roman,
or like a blind Roman
woman with absurd optimistic beliefs.

If instead of promising
the discovery of the philosopher's
that might produce bread
and twenty dollar bills
you'd spend more time,
because of how arrogant you are,
selling rotten potatoes
or rancid corn,
the Indians of this nation
might call you
Chief Eye of Pearl.

If instead of crying
you'd die one of these days,
like an elegant pig with its grease
imported from the North,
who are tired
of so many stupid confessions,
would make the stones dance
and the trees would provide manufactured fruit.
With your old and putrid skeleton,
food for rats,
we will fill a single place on this earth
and we will call it
the Cursed Cave
and people will be proscribed from seeing
and approaching it
for fear of awakening hysterical
They call you
José of the dreams,
the one with the sacred cows,
the owner of the skinniest cows
and President of the "Condal Society of Dreams."
Your friends call you
How late do you sleep, Mr. President?
If you adore the cow,
If you adore the calf,
And if the General gives you lunch,
you sleep like a log
or you have a seizure of drowsiness.
Mud Face,
Eye to see the Serpents
and call them,
Eye to keep company
and burn you
with humble Kerosene,
Eye to have at your service
like a cheap bellhop.

Are you sleeping, Mr. President?
I ask you because I'm a smart young man
unlike you, gentleman of the siesta.


Caupolicán Ovalles (Venezuela, 1936-2001)