Poetry by José Eugenio Sánchez

far west will never can forget

what are we
(not dust nor cloud nor horseshoe print)
butch cassidy sundance kid tom mix
marshal dillon the lone ranger
to the market crash
or the ubiquitous neon signs
cheerfully saddening the city

hi-ho silver

what are we billy the kid buffalo bill quick draw
the good the bad john wayne
zorro ned kelly
the corduroy heroes
to secretarial miniskirts that look at you
with the face of ursula andress

(not dust nor cloud nor horseshoe print)

famous cowboys is all we are
riding out the hours across the plains of your back

whorehouse raid

(music by ry cooder)

while our bodies down up down
the whores ran to hide from the outlaws
and the bullets…………….glasses shattered…………….poker chips
playing cards on the ground
that guy who gets hit and slides down the bar
the shot to the cord that holds the chandelier
dead bodies everywhere thegetaway with gun in hand and prostitute in tow
and all the beer peanuts whisky and the cash register

the cloud of dust:
the distant train whistle…….handkerchiefs a-wave
the slight warmth of your skin like a question
the dry branches shaking in the town’s desertion

two days later the sheriff’s cowardly gold star emerges
the thirsty men ready the gallows
the outlaws and whores will have crossed texas already
shitfaced and stark naked thinking about opening a cathouse in ciudad juárez
back here: the pianola has lost its poise
our bodies down up down perfect engineering
and the saloon door is swinging shut

brave men don’t set foot in barber shops: sue ellen

he wouldn’t give his life for hers
the real story goes more like this:
everywhere they hound him
the bankers want him dead
the shopkeepers to see him hang

he’s killed entire tribes
he’s blown up trains
emptied out bars safes
wolves don’t dare howl when he’s near

some say he’s aroused by the scent of lead
can smell money a mile off
eats meat raw

everyone says how they’ll see him
clean-shaved and well-dressed
out for a walk on a lady’s arm
on a sunday afternoon

(and the other whores cackled)

ned kelly one hot morning: norma lee

that morning he decided to raid the number three train
he cleaned the remington and the colt 45
and shoveled some hay for his horse

he jumped the bridge
a bright scarf across his face
firing shots left and right
carrying off passengers’ billfolds and jewels
the safe the gold

and he searched the aisles for me – in first class obviously –
(and you must be ned kelly, I thought)
he took my arm like slamming a door and I crossed all borders
to dance with him in an oasis
where he earnestly set about tearing off my panties with his teeth

(and the whores cackled some more)

to a nose:

did you ever imagine this butch
no sundance this doesn’t smell right to me

then they took my legs mounted me as many times as they wanted they filled me with beer and they sucked on my body all over the fools drank from my breasts the most sparkling elixir the most delicate alcohol in my body galloping they plowed a league the impotent canons of moaning complaint: they were useful they opened me they rode me across the plains their eyes glued to me: they scratched their names into my skin: they lassoed and domesticated every moment of my speech and away they went leaving their shirts thrown over the folding screen:

(sue ellen norma lee susan saint-john and marijane malone pretended they couldn’t understand scarlett o’hara del mar’s words: they didn’t laugh just kept passing the bottle)


José Eugenio Sánchez

José Eugenio Sánchez is an acclaimed poet and performer, and the author of numerous poetry collections, including physical graffiti, la felicidad es una pistola caliente, escenas sagradas del oriente, and galaxy limited café, which was a finalist for the 2010 Jaime Gil de Biedma International Poetry Prize. Sánchez delights in calling himself an "underclown," and his aggressively playful work engages both low and high culture with irreverence and insight. His language is inflected with the slang, diction, and grammatical cadences of both Mexico and the United States. Originally from Guadalajara, Sánchez lives in Monterrey, Mexico.

Anna Rosenwong

Anna Rosenwong is a translator, editor, and higher educator. Her book-length publications include Rocío Cerón's Diorama (Díaz Grey Editores and Phoneme Press), José Eugenio Sánchez's suite prelude a/h1n1 (Toad Press), and an original collection of poetry, By Way of Explanation (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has recently been featured in The Saint Petersburg Review, The Kenyon Review, Pool, and elsewhere.

Rosenwong is honored to have been José Eugenio's translator for many years now, and her approach to his work grows out of a long-standing affection for his unusual cadences, love for profanity, and raucous sense of humor. Her translations of his poems have appeared in a wide array of literary journals, been discussed in a critical essay she wrote for World Literature Today, and been published in a chapbook called suite prelude a/h1n1-an absurdist diary of 2008's swine flu scare in Mexico.

El asalto a las putas. Copyright (c) José Eugenio Sánchez, 2011. English translation copyright (c) Anna Rosenwong, 2014.