06 June 2015

Featured Poet: Miguel Ángel Bustos | Featured Translator: Lucina Schell


Today I have sought
the birds in my chest.
Heavy trill,
hard fist
suspended from soul’s center.
Today I have defended myself
from the street and the tree,
from their wall of feathers and tongues.
Today I fear the crazed song
that rises from inside me.
Today I fear silence.
I want the flight of my birds
how I want you!
Until wing by wing,
shadow opened,
we kiss freely.

—from Heart of Outer Skin, 1959


Maybe revolving over the city
the machines rebel.
The filing cabinets like flowers
quickly fanning out,
and corral man.
It may be that the wall of my house
suspends a bit its weight
and watches my sleeping body.
Hounded walking with the fugitives.
By the field and by the river,
at the hour that the sun takes the day laughing.
We could forget the number brothers.
Looking at each other.

—from Heart of Outer Skin, 1959


My tongue sinks
deep tremors in your body.
My tongue lives
skips of your idiom
in your throat.
My tongue flies
and cuts
beat of water
your belly.
My tongue ties
far away in your blood.
My tongue looks
and sees only one tongue.
And today winds of stone blow
and there are millions of mouths that seek
tongues to make hearts stand on end.
Tongues that inhabit the chest.
Tongues in vigil erect,
on the eyes on the brow.

—from Heart of Outer Skin, 1959


Night you joined fire in water on land transformed by the sky.

Where did your flame appear?
Cell and panel of glass captivate me.
Make in me a forest of total innocence where fury and love
       graze, beneath the still clarity of silence.
Who opened the air and separated my tranquil beatitude?
A god in the sea inspires his storm.
A god on land flaps the windows and his angel goes wandering.

—published in La Nación on March 7, 1971


If it is already time to raise his Dominion,
make it
your width, your length, your absolute depth.
Break my heaven, fled sea, home of
Ease my sun in motion to the air of your
arrogance           in the emptiness of your calm.
Tree of gods. Tempest of birds.
Tremor in temples of fear. An absent god
in the origin of god that
I pursue.
Same as children          similar to the savages
of death find your justice
in zeal             see the prayer of your first
angel                           your angel fallen in the
terror of dream.

—published in La Nación on January 16, 1972

MIGUEL ÁNGEL BUSTOS was a major poet of the Argentine Generation of 1960. His Visión de los hijos del mal, with a prologue by Leopoldo Marechal, won the Buenos Aires Municipal Prize for Poetry in 1968. Bustos became an early victim of the military dictatorship, which ushered in decades of censorship of his poetry. His collected poetry was republished in 2008, the first time it had appeared in print in more than thirty years. Bustos’s remains were identified in 2014 by forensic anthropologists.

LUCINA SCHELL is founding editor of readingintranslation.com, dedicated to publishing reviews of literature in translation written by translators. Her translations of Bustos appear in Ezra Translation Journal, the Bitter Oleander, and Drunken Boat and her literary reviews have been published in Ezra and Zoland Poetry.