Poetry by Eduardo Lalo



I return to them again              confronting

…………minutes           sometimes       hours with the books

opposing them

…………to the reality of purgatory’s time


I chew on words become verses         chapters turned

…………cadaver chunks            that only ever

…………brought bread to a publisher’s table

I live in a necropolis

surviving after catastrophe and roving

…………its illiterate city

Here some titled spines                      there the ribcage

…………of a classic       turning the corner I find

…………a stockpiled purchase mistake            carried

…………through countless relocations illegible            in vain


The number of writers has been excessive

…………for the readers in this world

Their memory                         also a library

…………pierced by mistakes    feels like

…………an inhuman weight


I am a reader                if anything has survived within me

…………it’s this

I carry the enormous weight of ink

don’t know what else to do on this road

…………toward the utopian inane

I live in a necropolis                I said

Some will include me in theirs

and we will unknow each other in the desert

of our day-to-day streets


The world has labored against paper

The world has belonged to others


Understandable, the weight of the written

…………is unnecessary for those who think themselves kings


I am a gravedigger

Building a worthy tombstone

for tons and tons of pages

Another           someday          will live in the necropolis

Another           will read dates and names

Families friends generations

Buenos Aires


Conversations with men

I’ll never see again

in this straight lined long city

where can I find the South?


Avenue walls disclosing

words from all over the world

and someone has scratched: “What’s

the dish of the day?” next to a Doric column

The brotherly voice of my mind answers

with the number of your steps

with a momentary memory

of the way you rub your eyes,

foreigner’s alchemy

But don’t lie

and tell me what you’d want to count

with this useless notion of distance



Insatiable inclination to silence ample payments to philosophical

possibilities Malaise inflicted by the extended reach of the writable and

the cartographiable Poetic prose Scholarly Metastasis Listed shameful

ethnocides Impossibility of forgetting personal circumstances

Ravenous annihilation of autobiography by history



The Occident is always neoOccident: the introduction of a novel

exploitation strategy. The “end” of the Occident is a new Occidental

manual; reiterated threat of literature’s demise.


I’ve travelled the biggest mall in the Caribbean from one end to the

other without buying anything. Unconsumption: liberty.


More than thirty years with writing as my tool. Becoming silent,

becoming unemployed, godless, without ceremony. Returning to what I

know is unique to birth and death. That which chokes on air or spit.

Writing, then, until I lose my breath.


Certain writers can be understood by examining the room where they

lived. They were animals in captivity. Writers of a table, a bed, books

stacked on the floor. Large devices for life and debris. Scandalous that

after death their name was stamped on anything. They were what paper

could withstand. What they withstood.


The night as alcohol reflected in alcohol. Exquisite mix, giver of the

word. Alcohol, the blank page, night is ink, the pen a vehicle for

displacement. Writers, even the most sedentary, are all travel writers.


To disappear as a result of confronting the page.


To self-betray so as to think.


To disappear: to discontinue the appearance of waiting. To understand

that nothing is needed despite the persisting desire. To dis-appear: to

accept life despite the abundance of fathers uninterested in procreating,

without their sons in mind. To conquer disappearance itself as the will

of power. To consent to voluntary and voluptuous unsalvation. To be

the living-dead of writing. To be ominous.


Two roads to enjoyment: the creation of neologisms and the gentle

displacement of anyone who feels threatened by new words that show

the insignificance of all language. Redefinition of liberty: to thwart the

operations of the profound marks of life. The ability to live as if scars

were drawn on sand.


Enjoyment: the redefinition of redefinition. The end of unending.


Deoccidentalizaton of the mind: the definitive abandonment of childhood.


Poetry beyond verse.

Philosophy without bent knees before the geography of philosophy.

What happens on a page as genre, as discipline, as


The intextual, indisciplined, inOccidental.

Poetry as the practice of unending.


The liberation of everything amassed and named by Occident. Not the

end of history but of dehistory.


The subject refusing to answer to his given name.


The liberation in reach by tonight. And by tomorrow, its oblivion and

past reindefinition. This unvictorious body. This limitless satisfaction.




What space exists today for this letter?

Like vessel shards       like myths

carved into tibias         these words

are partnerless             Passion and

pastime of the pained

seeking understanding from a distance

longing for nights that were true

nights and the voices of warriors


I’m here attempting to tell myself

I cannot accomplish a we


Ink is the abandonment of faith


All atoms are in my

hand    all of the world’s past

would not exist without this verse

They are lies   of course         images they say

but this blackened page remains

this visible and tenacious failing silence



Life fits into hands

and is carried inside mouths

Fingers and bread

navigate the road from work to blood

Like light         the rain

the roads         like

wisdom and the dead’s ashes

life fits into hands

It can’t be found inside luggage

or in the places no one has seen

that life fits here

is enough and is excess

this life

these hands



The journey and the rupture

your letters pass         departure

a verb in pieces                       the

horizon coupled to spilled blood


Throughout history

men have feared you

in the faces of their wives       in

the scents of their homes


Air won’t be the same

where being is a fractionless fraction

where only registration forms

give faith to belonging


To leave          cruel sound of the branch

torn up trace   split


No suitcase can fight you


enough             with the clumsy sadness of downpours

you expect to erase time’s passing


enough             as if there were another fate for

the foolish fondness for transparency

of your two letters

which aspire to the fright of limits

to the stubborn hollow of the end


enough what?

as if anything could be past    as if

this verse or any sneeze          could culminate

Columbus hasn’t left yet

People still die in Auschwitz


enough             as if anything could conceal itself

destroy itself   forget itself

enough             as if forgetfulness was a newborn

and we weren’t our grandchildren’s nightmare




Pain of the stain of the stemmed nation

stain of the pain of the nation stem

Furious future outcome

…………of dice

of the hand who rejoiced for us

…………when the previous embryo

misunderstood the fire’s numbers


Pain of the tongued pains

…………gentle succulent lament

the liver’s vesicular remainder

condition of our epic famines


Fundamental functionality of the detained

…………in principle principally a cease

Oh radical enervation

of the coarsest elements!

Slow    slowest construction of paralysis

Oh it’s Pa! Oh it’s father!



It’s Pa

Yes      Pa




of plural flags


Children’s tongue        strict

milk diet

willing to follow

the previous and occult order

that joins us


By not knowing how to disown our father

– the absent present

the remaining absence –

we turn duties into

hysterias         maternal fervors

into fulguration


Oh tongueless family

where words

…………capitulate to call themselves celibate


Yes      Pa

who has never been with us

the edge of your monosyllables

is horror

and we work to fill the hole

that you have made us

repeat in vain

following your will

for centuries without logic


Oh country without parricide!

Oh terrible simulation of

the fatherland!



Paper from the where where

I say the chaos of saying

which is and isn’t the place

that brought you into the world         how unfortunate

are the plains of this where

of unnumbered places

without frontiers or vehicles

to scatter the where among nations

like the seed of a fruit

premonitory cycles

or fixed days


Where doesn’t know where knows

its limpid incursion into hermeticism

the attractive scar of its origins

the foggy wordplay of its given names

like placed places

like stars or molecules

like flooded lands

aspiring to be places

or the hopeful wait

of arriving

at where where isn’t said

and where where might be



You’ve discovered how smoke

pours its previous meaning into words

that name things in the world

There   in the not-place of the not-sound

…………of the not-word

are your causes

the slow rocks of silence

and there is where you’re entirely

unknown by yourself still

like pain          like a wound

unable to imagine its scar

There   this final sensation remains there

…………its beginning identical to its end


And if              this is what you are: the terrible simplicity

of what you don’t know how to say

or cure



At night

I discover the verb’s cruelty


Tied to me I resort to my hatreds

to the days of pure ire

and nothing but this whisper remains

for the wind circling the hours


My fury bites

during the night of my return

to the circuit running from me to me

to the restrained inertia

waiting to face the storm

with the size of its indifference



I am the island             the island island

I am life battling history

Populated by corpses anonymous     imposters

authors of the badly said

voracioustimidgrandiloquent agents of the country where no one believes


I am a cemetery for verses

an open vein sipped every morning by the sea

but I stay        remain             I remain

within monstrous sameness

in Latin America’s extreme frontier

and life is not littler here

in the fade-out country

Here    where monuments are mistakes cast in bronze

texts are mistreated objects

But I stay        stay     stay

in the communal ditch of the days of my town

so that all words aren’t swallowed into worthless words



This is the house

the place where life waters indecipherable land

something that doesn’t name me

and overtakes the history of the unworld on which we stand


I remain inside the house

…………during the night of the night

where death will not be called news

where I dip the tip of my pen

into a glass of water

and drink the pain like indulgence

which is scandal

and is peace


Eduardo Lalo

Eduardo Lalo is a Puerto Rican poet, novelist, essayist, visual artist, and professor at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras. Lalo is a prolific writer whose twelve published books range from novels to photographic essays. In 2013, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro awarded the prestigious Rómulo Gallégos Prize to Lalo’s second novel, Simone. It was recently translated by David Frye and published by the University of Chicago Press, making it the first of his works to be published in English translation. Necropolis, from which these translations are drawn, collects fifteen years of Lalo’s poetry.

Maru Pabón

Maru Pabón is a Puerto Rican writer and translator who studied comparative literature at Brown University. She is the former editor-in-chief of bluestockings magazine, and her writing has appeared in Electric Literature, Monkeybicycle, and the College Hill Independent. She tweets occasionally @mepbon.

Necropolis. Copyright (c) Eduardo Lalo, 2011. English translation copyright (c) Maru Pabón, 2016.