for Louis Chude-Sokei

I went to graduate school because I was lonely
only to find myself

more lonely—lost scaling the canyons and breaches
of who I was and what I loved: books

women, ideology:
stuck in the brambles of politics and melanin.

Walking the stacks and quadrangles, at war
with my subject

positions, unable to locate my position
on any map;

I have become my invention. I have my theories.
The self is a theory, a way of walking, a history

and a geography, four and five dimensions, several
kinds of time: uncharted

terrain, and, look, there I am, lost on the shores
of my longing—

walking the campus of my limits, lost
and contemplating

the war I fought with sentiment, the war I lost
with solitude.

Copyright © 2001 by Anthony Walton. This poem was first printed in Notre Dame Review, Issue 11 (2001). Used with the permission of the author.

Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert

Silence. Night has fallen here already.
The sun has gone down behind the tombs,
And now a thousand eyes are crying,
Do not come back. My heart is dead already. 
Silence. Where everything is fitted in
A stiff lament, and this passion is like
Mediocre kerosene that barely burns.

Spring will come. You will sing “Eve”
From a narrow ledge, from the furnace
Where Eros kindles his spikenards.
Forge a pardon there for the poet,
Though it is sure to hurt me,
Like the nail that seals the coffin. 
But . . . there will come a lyrical night when
Your fine breasts, your red sea
Will crash with the waves of your fifteen years,
Once you spy, far off and full of memory,
My corsair, my ingratitude.
Then your apple orchard, your lips, yielding
To be creased a final time, to die
With the blood of too much love,
Like a Jesus sketched profanely—

Oh, my love. And you will start singing—
The female part of my soul reverberating
Like a cathedral in its grief. 





Silencio. Aquí se ha hecho ya de noche,
ya tras del cementerio se fué el sol;
aquí se está llorando a mil pupilas:
no vuelvas; y murió mi corazón.
Silencio. Aquí ya todo está vestido
de dolor riguroso; y arde apenas,
como un mal kerosene, esta pasión.

Primavera vendrá. Cantarás “Eva”
desde un minute horizontal, desde un
hornillo en que arderán los nardos de Eros.
¡Forja allí tu perdón para el poeta,
que ha de dolerme aún,
como clavo que Cierra un ataúd!

Mas . . . una noche de lirismo, tu
buen seno, tu mar rojo
se azotará con olas de quince años,
al ver lejos, aviado con recuerdos
mi corsario bajel, mi ingratitud.

Después, tu manzanar, tu labio dándose,
y que se aja por mí por la vez última,
y que muere sangriento de amar mucho,
como un croquis pagano de Jesús.

Amada! Y cantarás;
y ha de vibrar el femenino en mi alma,
como en una enlutada catedral.

From Los heraldos negros (Editorial Losada, S. A., 1918) by César Vallejo. Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert. This poem is in the public domain.

Your words dropped into my heart like pebbles into a pool,
Rippling around my breast and leaving it melting cool.

Your kisses fell sharp on my flesh like dawn-dews from the limb
Of a fruit-filled lemon tree when the day is young and dim.

Like soft rain-christened sunshine, as fragile as rare gold lace,
Your breath, sweet-scented and warm, has kindled my tranquil face.

But a silence vasty-deep, oh deeper than all these ties
Now, through the menacing miles, brooding between us lies.

And more than the songs I sing, I await your written word,
To stir my fluent blood as never your presence stirred.

From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.

Upon a path we lingered
When skies were overcast,
She knew not I was doubting
If love had come at last.

In her I felt arising
The pity Christ thought of––
To me naught else did matter
If only she could love.

To me unkind was pity,
And hurting, gratitude,
My love was more than kindness,
For thanks from her too good.

She said in lasting friendship
How happy we could be––
She did not know her hatred
Less painful were to me.

I said if love she could not,
’T were better to forget,
That in the flush of summer,
Upon that lane we met.

From Manila: A Collection of Verse (Imp. Paredes, Inc., 1926) by Luis Dato. This poem is in the public domain.