100 Refutations: Day 73


Tell me, oh! Old wise witches
Saturday doctors,
if awaits me good fortune
or awaits me bad.

*******Seek for yourselves
in nights of moon
among the ugliest, among fistfuls of weeds,
*******among the hidden
*******who hide the strangest things:
smoke rising from bats
or terrifying toads,
the dead-black wings of
hapless owls,
and undulating vipers:
every bug that brings disgust
*******Oh! Witches,
Saturday doctors.

Let them growl in the pot,
inside clay bowls
pour in foul grease
brought to you by dragons
crawling out of the graves
of the still-rotting dead,
*******as howl
hyenas in the fields.

And let them boil, let them roar
after you’ve cast your conjurations
after you’ve clad your faces with contortions
demonic emulations,
after the columns have begun to slither like snakes
with fire and fatuous smoke
*******that in the cavern
speak predictions,
*******Oh! Witches,
Saturday doctors.

Stir in long shadows,
with long fangs,
*******and let frightful demons rise
*******so that, in pale
*******nocturnal assembly
I can be told of the fortune
reserved for fays,
*******Oh! Witches,
Saturday doctors.
*******—Crac, crec, croc.
Black cat, mewing.
*******—Crac, crec, croc.
Feeble dog, howling.
*******croc, croc.

So that, in pale
nocturnal assembly,
I can be told of the fortune
reserved for fays
*******Oh! Witches
Saturday doctors…

“What moon phase do you seek?”
*******crac, crec, croc

The one shining over Cyprus
amid the love of roses.
Is there still one for me…?
*******—Crac, crec, croc

“How long have you held life’s harm?”

Oh, I am an old man! Today I pressed my hand against
the twenty eighth ledge…

“Oh! The horror!”

Smoke, rises,
*******Croc, croc, croc
Flees, the cloud.
(And rose in flight the old women,
*******the perverse doctors,
like a famished flock of furies
with sinister mocking and yelling,
*******making a thousand twisted faces.
Their long manes like ruffled feathers
*******unfurled and black,
like the long crest of long
*******snaking smoke.)


José Solón Argüello Escobar

José Solón Argüello Escobar (1879-1913) was born in León, Nicaragua. During his life he worked as a teacher, poet, and Mexican politician. In Nicaragua, he founded both a private school and a journal, El Heraldo. He was politically active in Mexico his entire life while continuing to publish numerous works of poetry. In 1913, the year his book Cruel Things was published, he actively campaigned for his friend Francisco I. Madero to end what he called “a tyranny in Mexico” and to “restore democracy.” After the assassination of Madero, Argüello fled to New York, but after a short while—disguised as a railroad worker—he snuck back into Mexico with the intention to “execute by his own hands the usurper Victoriano Huerta” (Poetas Modernistas de Nicaragua, 170). He was discovered in August 1913 and executed by firing squad just a few weeks later.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V. earned MFAs in creative nonfiction writing and literary translation from The University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown Sever Sing from Anomalous Press and Don’t Come Back from Mad River Books, as well as editor, with Sarah Viren, of the forthcoming anthology Essaying the Americas. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation work has been featured in journals including Bellingham ReviewChicago ReviewFourth GenreBrevityPoets & Writers, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. She won Best of the Net and Iron Horse Review’s Discovered Voices Award, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia, where she works as an assistant professor for Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit www.linawritesessays.com.

English translation copyright (c) Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., 2018.