Chile Is the Name of My Father

I Go Find Sleep

Chile is the name of my father
Think of him
what do you see?
do you see me?
do you see yourself?
Think in your tongue that is also my tongue
bite it
it’s full of orthographic horrors
it’s full of cliffs and bodies
sacred and wounded
last night I heard you say that today we will be a dream
that’s what I heard
that’s what will be

Desert Book

The Desert of Ash are millions of burnt books When the eyes light up and strike it’s the Parallel Flame that turns the trees trees trees into white dirt sown with the forgotten the remembered knowing so well that the remembered and the forgotten are of the same flower that quenches the thirst of those who don’t know the difference between an eye and a hand and who will turn into the same ash that saves this space from the night when writing was invented This is the Desert of Ash inhabited by no one but filled with the entirety of literature I say this and hear a murmur of something I have already imagined An illuminated enormous woman appears to us “My name is Santa Rosa of the Northern Winds and in my hands are the seven winds that kill and resuscitate” We approach her and between her fingers all we see are some purple snakes that coil as if they were made of flames and helixes My boy took a step back and fell “Don’t be afraid–I told him–it’s just wind” and one of those pythons shot up at the woman and when it was over our heads it started to devour the air with its jawbone bigger than the sky and the sun and the clouds were shredded into pieces in its jaws and all that remained were thousands of scattered pieces up above that looked like copper amethysts silver emeralds and iron pearls Then the animal spun back to us and squeezed us in its mouth to take us to the Moon where the Earth is a hamlet and gravity is a lullaby that shuts eyes.

Valley of Serenity

Then the snake flung us against the crater full of herbs that never stopped singing and talking to each other in conjugated pollen We followed the orbits up above as if they were rivers that only carry radiant aromas and future passions and a thread of water definitively appeared at our feet We saw it descend from a huge mountain that was three huge mountains and each one was named for a constellation we had forgotten We walked toward them and they were full of lyrical vineyards and other unimaginably miraculous fruit trees that had only seen herders ascending from other galaxies And those stars high above were what we will become My boy put your hand on my eyes and it will be the longest night The night like a mirage in which you and I will be a heap of words in a confine of the skies pointing towards things we ignore with the sharp shining bitter dark and beautiful arrow of our hearts Put your hand on my eyes Put your hand on my eyes my boy so I will always see you

Universal Water

We followed the fresh water that carried us to the highest of the mountains but it was covered with angels who cried in their sleep “What are they dreaming?” my boy asked and he also cried “They’re remembering the millions of flowers that were yanked out They’re remembering the most beautiful one of all They’re remembering the snapdragon flower that announces the misfortunes and questions” One of the angels came and gave us a seven-leafed clover My boy put out his hands and his palms were whiter than the angel’s His lines moved like flashes of lightning and the clover suddenly sprouted into a hundred thousand leaves Those who had been sleeping opened their eyes and it stopped snowing The angels took us to a cave inside the mountain where light and heat existed like a memory of humanity’s first words Inside we saw the stones and minerals evaporate and that vapor fed the beautiful herons that looked like unwritten books We asked one of the angels to return and he opened his mouth and stuck us in his tongue It was dark inside and outside we heard the ocean waves beating against the boat that brought us to the ocean to the Sleeping Ocean

My Sea of Doubts

It was night and two eclipsing suns reflected on the water My boy asked me if this was a miracle “It is while you see it” I told him as hundreds of words appeared on the sea and their sounds flared up waves of passion and uncertainty Above some birds that came from the heart’s ice shredded themselves because they’d never seen language in its natural environment Below were fish who fed on those words as they breathed the underground flames that move the world At the precise moment those fish came out to fly and we could stroke their bellies In this way we followed them in this airless wind Thousands in the sky and our fingers bled from so much stroking and my boy decided to return to earth We used our hands as paddles and the ocean awoke to lose us In the distance we saw the lights from the houses near the port but they were the eyes of Paccha Mamma that also shone in the sea because everything that reflects must disappear The earth was at the same time an ocean that caused our shipwreck or transhumancy To stay was to sink but the entire trip with my boy was details to not forget that everything is written in the sky and that up there we also existed before we knew ourselves

Keys to Forgetting

Then Paccha Mamma showed us her hands and they bled locks that held every secret even those that had never been imagined in writing We went closer to see but Paccha Mamma started to flee from us laughing as we followed her From the night-filled coasts to where the stones spoke From the disappearing forests to beneath the allegorical rivers We heard a music and soon we were drinking and singing with the world’s poorest men and women and children that had everything in their hands and that was enough for them to be happy Paccha Mamma danced with them and with all the houses in the area The birds threw themselves into the bonfires because they had seen everything The dog plants withered in flowerpots of rain and different types of trees returned to the earth as roots The Parallel Flames scared my boy and he hid in one of those houses “Never go into a house that is not yours because you’ll never be able to leave First you should burn it down with the Parallel Flame that is pure conversion and never dead” I said this and my boy nodded yes while Paccha Mamma once more disappeared in the lights of the devils hidden in the luck of the language

When the Postmodern Ends

My boy didn’t want to be there anymore and so we went to where the waters are real and utopian “I know elemental cities where I wouldn’t have a name” I said as I stroked his beautiful hair “I have breathed in little houses and sneezed in big cities” but he asked me “what’s the use of a letter with no sound” and I understood that my whole life had been lived at night and that all of my nights had been full of dreams We walked without speaking but our hearts demolished all the trees the men had planted in the solid earth until we stopped at a city where the man of water once lived It was full of impulses and traders and between each house there were so few steps you could walk backwards without even turning to look at the calendar Some women wove hydrogen cotton and wool Others made toys with oxygen and nitrogen The city was lovely and through it ran a river that carried sad radios busted computers dejected telephones That river had a name and that name contained the beginning and the end of an era This is the first time the book and its reader are one and the same Flung into a solitude much larger than all of the world’s inhabitants A solitude filled with dead air stuck up a nose like a cadaverous hand with an hourglass cracked in its middle

The Anagram of the National Flower of my Sadness

We continued down the river watching how those machines destroyed until we came to some little houses inhabited by the most beautiful men and women we had ever seen Their blood was blue like apples and their skin was black like silver I know what those things with wings are called but they cannot fly but they don’t care because they know that those insults are steps taken backwards while that same voice breaks We spent the night with them and we learned that the most unbeaten face is the one that can devour its open eyes with its own teeth My boy went to watch the beavers make their dams with the burned up televisions on the edge of the river I stayed with these people who celebrated that the imagination is illegal but soon my heart saddened because my boy was not with me and my veins swelled so much they opened I thought that bleeding was perhaps the first form of writing These beautiful people said the same thing and I slept crying on a bed of intoxicating vinyl secretions I also drank

Sacred and Wounded

I left there in the rarefied air and the words were filled with the flavor of innocent girls reciting poems to their boyfriends to make them smile Little by little I penetrated a jungle of paper where even the shadows that reflected off everything that moved were paper Thus I saw myself in a labyrinth whose only thread was the poison in its heart Never had there been a silence so terrible as this not even the silence of fifteen minutes without you I felt the terror of going to hell without having written absolutely anything but Paccha Mamma once more appeared and made me follow her As I walked I wrote as deeply and sincerely as I could in that denseness of paper The sky was filling with lights and the cosmic dust glittered and this is how I began the poem I wrote to my absent boy We left that horrible dryness and arrived at a lake by the volcano “What do you see” Paccha Mamma asked me and before I could answer my boy ran towards me and we were that lake and volcano eternally united “I have looked for you every night and every day of my life” he said to me crying I held him and we knew that we would never separate Paccha Mamma held out her hands to us and her locks opened with all their secrets We purified ourselves devoted now to tiny details that had forever changed us What we saw here no one will know

You of Me

“Let’s go to my house” my boy said to me and as we sang all the islands of the archipelago danced with us We got to his city and my boy turned it into a poem for me For the first time I was happy and I wanted time to permanently end We kissed and held hands through the whole region and the imbeciles on duty watched us dying of jealousy since our names were written in the same sky from which they sought forgiveness We trounced through every street in the city and they trounced on us and we were so lost with happiness we screamed I dreamt I dreamt and the passion exploded in our ears and we bled from insane love and we embraced as if we were the same arms and we kissed as if we were the same mouths before the astonished faces of the last century We were there where the insane walked on the trees and the trees turned blue with happiness for us I was with you and your city invited us to mutilate it and its members scattered in our bodies as if they were your birthday presents and also mine because we were born together for only one reason to love each other always

My Son My Father My Brother

But the sky filled with lights and the cosmic dust glittered as if it were made of dreams So I stripped off my clothes because only a naked man can have a head full of things and not feel shame The night shut my eyes with pure pleasure and I felt that my signs were governed by all the stars in the universe I thought of my love so far from here and I also thought that its signs were governed by all the stars of the universe Something tells me that this night is unique because it’s yours You’ll see how sad and sweet it is You’ll see it with your own eyes and your own eyes will reveal how sad and sweet the night is Then I realize that every new thing is also a new word Love will be a memory of the future Yours and mine will Illuminate the light to see us


Héctor Hernández Montecinos

Héctor Hernández Montecinos was born in Santiago, Chile in 1979. His books of poetry that were published between 2001 and 2003 are collected in [guión] (Lom Ediciones: Santiago, Chile, 2008); [coma] (Lom Ediciones, 2009) collects his writings from 2004-2006. His other books include Putamadre (Zignos: Lima, 2005), Ay de Mi (Ripio: Santiago, 2006), La poesia chilena soy yo (Mandrágora cartonera: Cochabamba, 2007), Segunda mano (Zignos: Lima, 2007), A 1000 (Lustra editores: Lima, 2008), Livro Universal (Demonio negro: Sao Paulo, 2008, traducido al portugués), Poemas para muchachos en llamas (RdlPS: Ciudad de México, 2008), La Escalera (Yerba Mala cartonera: La Paz, 2008) El secreto de esta estrella (Felicita cartonera: Asunción, 2008), La interpretación de mis sueños (Moda y Pueblo: Stgo, 2008) y NGC 224 (Literal: Ciudad de México, 2009). He has been invited to present his poetry in Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru. Since 2008, he has lived in Mexico where he teaches, and directs a small literary press called Santa Muerte cartonera. He holds a doctorate in literature with a focus in art theory.

Daniel Borzutzky

Daniel Borzutzky's books include The Ecstasy of Capitulation (BlazeVox, 2007), Arbitrary Tales (Triple Press, 2005), and the chapbooks One Size Fits All (Scantily Clad Press, 2009) and Failure in the Imagination (Bronze Skull Press, 2007). He is the translator of Song for His Disappeared Love by Raul Zurita (Forthcoming, Action Books); Port Trakl by Jaime Luis Huenún (Action Books, 2008); and One Year and other stories by Juan Emar, which was published as a special issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction. His writings and translations have been published in dozens of print and online journals. He lives in Chicago.

Chile Is the Name of My Father.  Copyright (c) Héctor Hernández Montecinos, 2009. English translation copyright (c) Daniel Borzutzky, 2009.