Poems by Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

[indisciplines]

what does the peasant
right in the middle of a furrow
weeds no longer relevant
facing the freeway
…………………………where cars hum
for a moment head-raised want to tell you?
that it’s rained and the corn is coming up strong this year?

___

that the sun’s yolk
has just burst the horizon
starry with palms and agave flowers?
that work is hard
and you won’t write about all this?
tulips glimmer
only proof the sun survives

___

leaves aren’t tame
they turned to glass in the night
when the workers cut the grass
who knows where they look
the sun wins the bet
overflows the trumpet tree tops
under the bridge the landscape

___

like a national miniature
mountain with history
a valley that would make Heredia cry
witty mist
……………..oil wells
these aren’t Braque’s birds
they sing on Campanario Street on Mallard Pointe

___

and pierce the Cubist soul
delighted with their crests their originality
they aren’t Saint-John Perse’s
birds in ink either
life is less and less a forest
they make their nests in analogies
shit on symbols

___

laborers seek refuge
beneath the platform’s splendor
that absurd tangling
night’s lumber still creaking in their bones
in vain light struggles to gnaw them
one has thrown seven orange cones over his shoulder
clotting rhythm

___

it seems like they slave but they don’t
workers of the world
only leisure unites us
……………………………..the beer can
someone’s tossed out the window
the dry tree with buzzards in bloom
and the curve not letting me write

[destinies]

that girl on the balcony who’s she dancing for?
just woken from an ink-stained dream
the moon shines beneath her underarms
her ten rings
………………….bang against her hips
only a light sweat
caressing her breasts soon to be generous

___

and they announce the reality principle
that girl on the balcony dancing to what music?
just to see her light has washed its face
it’s father’s day and my underfed neighbor
received a bottle of cologne
he asks me to smell his marrow
voiceless he prays he’s at your service

___

a bottle of cologne from his son
who lives with a man in the very same house
he asks me to smell his torment
that even sparrows won’t peck
scented hunger
……………………..waters down the prejudices
in the breeze a woman’s moans

___

there is no mirror at hand
…………………………………….evening curdled in light
all the silence is hers
her crotch dictates it
in low tones he squeezes her
with his desperate virility
through the airshaft a woman’s groans

___

no one can tell
…………………….if it’s pain or pleasure
match hidden in the blanket
drier than the soul
of that widower scraping his tin plate clean
spiral flames
………………….a sticky river

___

chimney caressed by clouds
until the black spill
…………………………..like güira honey
those eyes where a tiger curls up
your ghostly cart
with oxen that snort in the dew
of an abstract morning

___

the one who jumps rope
with a stubborn irregularity
the one who takes notes every day
on imported paper
…………………………..but doesn’t end up writing
the one who does with his life
the same as death

[protections]

one more summer with Aimé Cesaire
on another island also his
this native land
……………………..where I have no home
still it sours in my gut
the sand of my bones
……………………………..an absolute taste

___

difficult island
……………………more and more an other
I only understand because of Aimé Cesaire
island where it’s always noon
northerlies crystallizing in the cane
island aslant not in the sea
memories shatter snowfall

___

why leave behind this dark
sweaty multitude
with dreams besieged by mosquitoes?
reality is a fifteen-cent stamp
at the Esquina de Tejas
papers damp with explanations
veins where patience boils

___

sidewalks cut short make forgetting impossible
rubble like photos in The New Yorker
the cashier’s little girl is sick
and not just the rain
…………………………….the entire being is stagnant
decolonization
…………………….a vacuum-packed camello

___

someone is learning how to type
with my identities
…………………………Lázaro has an accent
I’d scream if it were worth it
I’m comforted by the fan’s nervousness
you shouldn’t complain
you’ve broken the sound barrier

___

who asked me the time?
the caracoling virgin or the grey-haired babalao?
it’s no trap but there’s no escape
a true blue protects the borders
of this rigged island
a quotidian blue of water and sugar
three drops of lemon

___

a transcendent blue
……………………………frizzled palm
tamed by brooks
a blue where the yellow canary
and your dark eyes cross
an inclusive blue that might alter
any expired essence

Bios

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez (Havana, 1955) is a poet, journalist, literary critic, translator, and scholar. Many of his eighteen books of poetry have received major awards, including the David Prize (Cuba, 1980), the Plural Prize (Mexico, 1983), the EDUCA Prize (Costa Rica, 1995), the Renacimiento Prize (Spain, 2000), the Fray Luis de León Prize (Spain 2005), the Leonor Prize (Spain 2006) and the Rincón de la Victoria Prize (Spain 2010). Among his books are Cayama (1979), Con raro olor a mundo (1981), Noticiario del solo (1987), Cuarto de desahogo (1993), Los poemas de nadie y otros poemas (1994), El último a la feria (1995), Oración inconclusa (2000), Actas de medianoche I (2006), Actas de medianoche II (2007), Todo buen corazón es un prismático (2010), Intervenciones (2010), tareas (2011) and reversos (2011). For many years, he was the editor of El Caimán Barbudo, one of Cuba’s leading cultural magazines. He has compiled three anthologies that define his poetic generation and published various critical editions, introductions, and essays on Spanish American poets. Among his translations are books by John Kinsella, Margaret Randall, and Mark Strand. He has lived in the U.S. since 1995, and is currently an Associate Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College. ARC Publications released in English his collection, The Infinite’s Ash, which Katherine M. Hedeen translated and introduced.

Katherine M. Hedeen

Katherine Hedeen's book-length translations include collections by Spanish American poets Juan Bañuelos, Juan Calzadilla, Juan Gelman, Fayad Jamís, and Ida Vitale, all published in Salt's Earthworks Series. She is the recent recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. Her selection and translation of Víctor Rodríguez Núñez's early poems, The Infinite's Ash, was published by Arc in 2008. She is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College.

tareas. Copyright (c) Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, 2011. English translation copyright (c) Katherine M. Hedeen, 2012.