Three Poems by Arturo Loera


When I feel like crying
I remember all the marbles I lost
through the reckless pride
of the gambler.
I cry because those marbles were
like little planets
asleep in the universe of my pocket.
I cry because they must be alone now
in some trashcan, in the house of a grandmother
who isn’t my own.
(My grandmother lives in a graveyard—“The Hill”
—in row 41, beside a man named José.)
I cry because marbles are like the eyes of God,
but real.



I think about the hurricane’s smile,
about its innocence and the millions
of people with a different sky
and with the ruins of a fabricated kingdom
and with their knees on the ground,
with a small hurricane in their eyes
that doesn’t laugh because it doesn’t destroy.

I think about the smile of the stone
that just shattered the window,
about the other hand’s guilt
which is surely as full of mud
as the heart:
the stone is more alive.

I think about the hurricane’s smile,
about a boy destroying a city of lies,
about useless umbrellas that turn into birds
but never make it south.

Like crystal, we will shatter
because of a stone made of liquor,
because of light from a worn out jukebox
and the worn out voice of alligator boots
and ostriches’ tears, black hats
and its black heart. Mine.

I watch the hurricane on TV in a bar.
My mother died in New Orleans.
They don’t have jazz on the jukebox,
New York and Chicago are crying too.
I must be very lucky.



I’ll mourn the dead in a white room
with the door shut and windows open.
I’ll mourn on my rooftop
while mechanically repairing the air conditioner.

I’ll mourn the dead during office hours,
at lunchtime and while brushing my teeth.
I’ll mourn all my dead
while I watch TV,
while I do laundry,
while death approaches me.

And I have to mourn the dead
exactly as one suffers,
cries and suffers, this everyday routine of death.

Crying was never good for anything.


Arturo Loera

Arturo Loera (b. 1987, Chihuahua, Mexico) is the author of the books El poema vacío (ICM/Conaculta, 2013), Cámara de Gesell (Premio de poesía Editorial Praxis, 2013) and La retórica del llanto (Fondo Editorial Tierra Adentro, 2014). His work has been published in various magazines throughout Mexico and collected in anthologies such as Fuego de dos fraguas, young poets from Mexico and Spain (Exmolino: Taller Editorial/Centro Cultural España, 2016), Del inconveniente de haber nacido en México (Piedra Bezoar, 2016), among others. He was a Foundation for Mexican Literature Fellow, 2013-2015.

Garrett Stanford Phelps

Garrett Stanford Phelps (b. 1990, Phoenix, Arizona) has translated the works of Carlos Edmundo de Ory and Gonzalo Arango. He has spent the better part of his twenties drifting between major American cities, but currently studies at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where he also lives and writes and translates things. He can be reached at [email protected].

La retórica del llanto. Copyright (c) Arturo Loera, 2014. English translation copyright (c) Garrett Stanford Phelps, 2017.