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Knock Our Hats Off Contest Winner
Steve Gilmartin
Honorable Mention Poetry

Three Mistranslations from Cesar Vallejo's Trilce

 

3

     The people who think they're mayors
when did they steal away?
Money seizes the sky over Santiago
and surrounds it with packaging materials.

     Mother retains nothing but her songs and demonstrations.

     Aguedita, Nativa, Miguel,
your father knows who to slap
travel-banned gangs with memories
doubles jail time
silence corrals;
souls today gasp like heavy smokers,
all you can do is put your pants on.
No one makes big estimates anymore.
Mother retains nothing but her songs and demonstrations.

     There are 10 games called prison. Go over to
the boats--mine probably look so great!--
with the buckets cool as a saint dying
without learning who he is, as if it didn't hurt:
The dynasty floats in a pot of water, lists,
fleets of sugar due by morning.

     Our guardians are easy and obedient but unable
to help; their velvet voices are jokes,
like the silhouettes of lost mayors
who search the houses of the poor
as if they hadn't
made puddles and left.

      Aguedita, Nativa, Miguel?
Limousines and streetcars taunt the twilight.
You don't have to dress up to solo,
the recluse union knows you're at sea.

 

9

     The seers retuuurn by gulping and gulping.
South of this ancient duplex, your valvular
arbor, succulent and receptive
multiplicand to multiplier,
your excellent condition placed so that
everything seems to fly toward truth.

     The bus company's welcome back is swallowed whole.
Your head travels your coast, inviting Bolivarian fragment-kills
thirty-two cables plus multiples,
stop essentializing the sedated passengers as
batless belfreys, the two tomes are called the Work,
and life is neither quite as shiny as the CIA,
                         nor as tactical.

     Fall over boll weevil, he gulped, and left the hedges square.
No legit comedian fails to use the torso Wave
of egoism or to totally kill
at the Cabana,
where the woman is busy fitting together
                         the many pieces of general!

     And the soul of the yes is form fitting.
And is worn by my soul.

 

17

     Destined to be in a two-body problem,
and the tram boss looks for pure love.
Nobody can be a vulcan hub. Trying to haul
civil abracadabra.

     Mornings are springtime's cool older friend,
cool as an egg annexing territory,
a secret force. Morning is a down escalator.
The media bar
fills with gray substances, more minusing.

     Caresses know nothing of the caresser, nor of the
long march toward our encounters.
And still no one to leap with.
It's the year the boat went in circles.

     June, so airy and new. June, and on your shoulders
I'm reduced to caricature, see what you can do
for my city and my bowls
in your 21 states of unity.

     Good! Good!

 

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Steve GilmartinSteve Gilmartin’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Double Room, 14 Hills, 3rd bed, Mad Hatters’ Review, Poemeleon, Drunken Boat, Able Muse, Eleven Eleven, elimae, Cannot Exist, and Otoliths. He recently completed a manuscript of "mistranslations" of Cesar Vallejo’s Trilce and is currently working on English-to-English translations of Emily Dickinson. He works as a freelance editor and lives in Berkeley, California.

 

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