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Oscar Gonzales

Oscar Gonzales was born and raised in Puerto Cortés, Honduras. He moved to the United States as a teenager to attend boarding school, and he received a BA and MA from Yale University. He is the author of Central America in My Heart/Centroamérica en el corazón (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2007). He has also published two poetry collections in Honduras: Amada en el amado transformada (Editorial Guaymuras, 1995) and Donde el plomo flota (Editorial Universitaria, 1994), which received Yale University’s Theron Rockwell Field Prize. Gonzales works as a human rights advocate and social scientist. He lives in Washington, D.C.

By This Poet

2

We All Return to the Place Where We Were Born

What remains of my childhood
are the fragmentary visions
of large patios
extending
like an oceanic green mist over the afternoon.

Then, crickets would forge in the wind
their deep music of centuries
and the purple fragrances of Grandmother
always would receive without questions
our return home.

The hammock shivering in the breeze
like the trembling voice of light at dusk,
the unforeseeable future
that would never exist without Mother,
the Tall tales that filled
with their most engaging lunar weight our days
—all those unchangeable things—
were the morning constellations
that we would recognize daily without sadness.

In the tropical days we had no intuition of the winter
nor of autumn, that often returns with pain
in the shadows of this new territory
—like the cold moving through our shivering hands—
that I have learned to accept
in the same way you welcome
the uncertainty of a false and cordial smile.

Those were the days of the solstice
when the wind pushed the smoke from the clay ovens
through the zinc kitchens
and the ancient stone stoves
clearly spoke
of the secrets of our barefooted and wise Indian ancestors.

The beautiful, unformed rocks in our hands
that served as detailed toys
seemed to give us the illusion
of fantastic events
that invaded our joyful chants
with infinite color.

It was a life without seasonal pains,
a life without unredeemable time
a life without the somber dark shadows
that have intently translated my life
that slowly move today through my soul.


Todos volvemos al lugar donde nacimos

De mi infancia solo quedan
     las visiones fragmentarias
          de los patios tendidos
               como un naval terciopelo sobre la tarde.
 
 Entonces, los grillos cuajaban sobre el aire
     su profunda música de siglos
          y las fragancias empurpuradas de la abuela
               meciéndose en la noche
                    siempre recibían sin preguntas nuestra vuelta al hogar.

La hamaca temblando con la brisa,
como la voz trémula del sol en el ocaso;
el futuro imprevisible
que jamás existiría sin la madre;
las leyendas
cargadas de su peso lunar más devorador;
—todas esas cosas inalterables—
eran las constelaciones diurnas que reconocíamos sin tristeza.

Entonces no se intuía el invierno,
ni el otoño que retoña con dolor
entre las sombras de este territorio
—como el frío entre las manos doblegadas—
que hoy he aprendido
a soportar
de la misma forma en que se acepta
la incertidumbre de una falsa sonrisa.

Eran los días en que el solsticio
acarreaba humaredas polvorientas
por las ventanas de las cocinas de zinc
donde el fogón de barro milenario
decía oscuramente
el secreto de nuestros ancestros sabios y descalzos.

Las rocas deformes en nuestras manos
     parecían darnos
          la ilusión de eventos fabulosos
               que invadían nuestras gargantas de aromas desmedidos.

Era una vida sin dolores estacionales
     Vida sin tiempos irredimibles:
          Vida sin las puras formas sombrías
               que se resbalan hoy lentamente por mi pecho.

Central America in My Heart

On this voyage into the deep communion of solitude
I’ve casually come to know
the old and withered costumes of the sea;

I’ve walked carefully through the colors of copper
when the dusk has already conjured the last prayer of the day;

Through seasonal doorways
I’ve called upon the twilight ghosts
arched in the corners of the narrow cobblestone streets;

I’ve let my lips evade the necessary verses
to find the ending phrase for the afternoon;

I’ve disarmed the elusive equity of the night
to conceive an intimate verse from its fortified mysteries;

I’ve cast aside the grieving songs of my twilight
as the sky envelops the enamored vestments of the night;

I’ve done
        and undone
                so many things
                          in search of you…


Centroamérica en el corazón

Por este viaje a las profundas unidades de la soledad
he conocido sin planearlo
a la vieja vestimenta del mar;

he caminado con cuidado por los colores del cobre
cuando el ocaso ya ha lanzado el último suspiro del día;

he llamado por estacionales puertas
a los fantasmas del poniente
en las esquinas de las calles angostas;

he permitido a mi boca eludir los versos necesarios
para encontrar la frase terminante del atardecer;

he desarmado la equidad profunda de la noche
para concebir un verso íntimo de su faz amurallada;

he desechado los duelos del ocaso
cuando el cielo se cierne sobre el manto enamorado del crepúsculo:

he hecho
        y deshecho
                tantas cosas

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