Toward the Island

translated by Eloisa Amezcua & Pablo Medina

It smells of forest and it smells of sea.
Look how the vulture rises
on the ladder of the winds.

It smells of the woman who loved you
between sheets of abandon,
wrapped and beautiful, lethal as a knife.
Look how the lady with the parasol passes.

On the island, the cold moon is a mirror
of a snowfall at the end of the world,
so far from your womb,
so close to disdain.

The voice of no one follows you.
The island is a stretch of fragments:
wave, hill, song, ghost. 

Hacia la isla

Huele a bosque y huele a mar.
Mira como sube la tiñosa
por la escala de los vientos.

Huele a la mujer que te amó
entre las sábanas del desparpajo,
enclaustrada y bella, letal como navaja.
Mira como pasa la señora con sombrilla.

En la isla la luna fría es el espejo
de una nieve de fin de mundo,
tan lejos de tu vientre,
tan cerca del desdén.
La voz de nadie te persigue.
La isla es un trecho de fragmentos:
ola, monte, canto, espanto. 


Cityscape 1

Let the aroma of need
waft across the river to New Jersey:

all the snow and hills,
a sky that moves and moves.

I saw a rose in the clouds,
I saw happiness on fire.

At the Blue Note

for Karen Bentivenga
Sometimes in the heat of the snow
you want to cry out

for pleasure or pain like a bell.
And you wind up holding each other,

listening to the in-between 
despite the abyss at the edge of the table. 

Hell. Mulgrew Miller plays like a big 
bad spider, hands on fire, the piano

trembling like crystal,
the taste and smell of a forest under water.

The bartender made us a drink
with butterfly wings and electric wire. 

Bitter cold outside, big silence, 
a whale growing inside us.

In Defense of Melancholy

At least once a week
I walk into the city of bricks
where the rubies grow

and the killers await
the coming of doves and cats.

I pass by the homes of butchers
and their knives sharpened by insomnia

to the river of black sails
and the torn-up sea and the teeth of dogs.

She waits for me in a narrow bed,
watching the rain
that gathers on the broken street

and the weak light of dusk
and the singing trees.