Thursday, May 10, 2012

Roque Dalton, "Juan Cunjama, Sorcerer," trans. Hardie St. Martin


My old skin
snake skin
my skin with its pale hair
holding up under waves of rain
my laughing knife-wound my knees
so solemn in their decrepitude
showing through these rags

Loved but chaste my body
kept a good distance away
from the woman caught in summer's claws
my foot the winner my hoof fool-proof
against the thorns on far-off trails

My grime my proud
loathing for the days of man
my arm and my staff sticking out
like two long-dried-up rivers 
my bones put together with ashes and spit
my veins the fire in them snuffed out
my despair with its yellow teeth
in a last-ditch fight against a laughing mask

My love the forgotten
look of the sulking boy
my manly fear
my courage of a frightened man
the weariness that makes me 
walk on


The devil and god one and the same,
the wings of the dead
make a single terrified sound

All things are the same man has only 
to arouse slow powers from their sleep
and take over the deep secrets of life

I know what I'm telling you
all I need is the chemistry
of black prayer to honor your footsteps
for you I blend the scattered voice of herbs
in vials never reached by the sun
I am the only free man
the only one without masters
under my roof of unlit flowers
I sleep in a coffin of red pine
and I won't die this will be my death
one more dream an awakening
simply put off for another time

My body and its wondrous glass
between it and the white worm
while hand in hand with Tlaloc
the real me walks in each raindrop
over the trees and the sea

1 comment:


    When you know I'm dead don't say my name
    because then death and peace would have to wait.

    Your voice, the bell of your five senses, would form
    the thin beam of light my mist would be looking for.

    When you know I'm dead, say other words.
    Say flower, bee, teardrop, bread, storm.

    Don't let your lips find my eleven letters.
    I'm sleepy, I've loved, I've earned silence.

    Don't say my name when you know I'm dead:
    I would come out of the dark ground for your voice.

    Don't say my name, don't say my name.
    When you know I'm dead don't say my name.

    (Roque Dalton)