Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Almendranada – Carlos Lopez

Dec 24, 2021 | Poetry | 1 comment

Translated from the Spanish by Kiran Bhat

(Originally published by La Tinta de Alcatraz as part of the series La Hoja Murmurante in Spanish, 2017)

It was on the black-winged butterfly
settled in a corner of my room,
crossing the air, in between my books,
that a Sun-shaped figure was imprinted
out of pollen. This spirit had come
from far-flung lands
to visit dreams
that were being petrified into absence.

In the sky how the light shook,
creating labyrinths of mirrors,
telling the omens of the storms.
She, this divinity of sparkle birthed out of butterfly,
mediated between these delusional obsessions
these deep and complex interfaces,
all the while displacing unknown territories
in the absurd game between man and God.

A dawn, scorched in you,
and I have forgotten how to address the world:
everything seems more or less clear
as I drink this bleeding chalice
offered by your black scars
oscillating between pleasure, fear
evening, lightning, waves.

Your body knew no end,
had no kiss left to bless my eyes with,
nothing to ward my sleep, almost like a
red cat in the distance glowing
in the orange groves and dewdrops
over the wet green-ness marking my steps
on the uncertain path of Venus.

I take from the bookrest my best text
to unread in your abyss
the bankruptcy of my dreams.
I strip away hours that do not pass,
time long captured on your skin;
a face that I barely intuit, I set sail
in the fierce wind that is grabbing me.

At the right hour I receive your scepter
a shrouded, wandering sign,
your pendulum, a crossed path,
a silent shout: Shut up, I see.
I hear the rumor of your alleviations
scratching at my rivers, my veins.
Silent vestiges, our feelings pray.

Not everything is love. Other things occur
through the quivers of flesh, just as something
weaves dreams through sleepless nights.
I take the bitter chalice, an offering
lost in infinite names.
I open my skin and I can’t find you, only
rumors of blood, and absent echoes.

In the gate I try to find my words
which were thrown away by the dawn,
only to return to my daily agony,
the absence, the lightning of the day
which lives to break the spirit and unravel
the air; those tiny sounds
bringing your chaos, your veiled shadow.

I lost all of my reason: time clouded it up.
I found refuge in the hopeless;
shelter in a vein of stars
which I saw endlessly falling, ungraspable,
while the darkness shut me out.
I thread my yesterdays together with the light of amber
until the red wine blinds me.

The devil’s needles flutter
their impatience in a floating spiral;
through the harsh fog of the eyes
the clock marks slow hells,
and dilates other gaps.
I lose all known paths:
my only memories are needles of light.

I raze my tired senses,
my attempt at thought dilutes your image
through apprehended words,
tangled wind spirals
a haunted conch with notes,
the root of all voices, an echo
of inarticulate vocals.

Give me your loving your hate your venom;
intoxicate the grave syntax
of my blood – a synthesis of light
unbridled, lascivious, furious –
that guard the symbols from my sleep,
the skin of the wind, mirror, memory
of water dispersing in the autumn.

Now means nothing.
From the origin of haloed time
in the dawn of alphabets
a numen of eternal memory, your name,
the bleeding universe since the beginning of time.
Heart of the night pattern
rhythm, needles of the new moon.

I rip up millimeters of absence,
I take measurements between your space
and mine. I eat your pan dulce,
I drink fresh fire from the stove
of your loins. I nourish myself from you,
licking pain from my blood,
drowning myself in your lewd.

The black butterfly appears,
alone, in the final limits of the night.
Dreamlike candle wishes, painful
flesh; trephined memories, anxieties
endless watchmen, empty time
in which there was nothing or no one to wait for.
Everyday the light breaks the shroud.

It takes time, but it always occurs. It’s like
a grave metaphor of life, the warning of
death, what existence means for someone else.
The butterfly spreads its wings on the door,
resting after a tiresome journey,
catching teardrops, pain, departures,
and, without a destination, a part of nowhere.

I see your body dreaming peaks,
stamped with wishes, chants;
purple, full of essence,
a wineglass, wasting the dawn.
I spill my saddlebag full of moons.
My closed eyes only observe
fire fish, an abysmal druse.

I filled my eyes with the light of the day
so that I could kiss the entire night
with my sad gaze rummaging through
the pores of your skin, the bundle of jacks
lighting up your profundity,
I see, between jumps and silence,
strokes which are interrogating the spring.

I open up the trunk, I take out my letters;
I put the most affecting letters,
on chunks of time, life
which left me with memories, dreams, mysteries;
keys which don’t open suns but close them
hidden passions, whispers,
only over blank skin.

I wish we were beings, passion, dreams.
We are nothing more than letters,
nothing more than sounds.
I open the vocals which gave me
name inside of these agonizing whispers
of the dawn, strobed in black lights
which, while feverish, moved
up until the form they illuminated us in.

At the end of our journeys are words,
just as much as they are our beginning.
Babbling metaphor, inherited codes,
symbols, images, mysteries,
they go, forgotten with death,
kidnapping the memories, only
leaving monosyllables, spelled out.

Our blood, stitched out of alphabets,
drowned dreams that sailed
the universe, all of the blood;
languages, histories, legends, fights
against spirits, Gods, demons
ride over chaos and rupture.
The world is organized through death.

The evening swallowed by the night
divides shadows which were once lights,
augmenting the labyrinth. Steps
that don’t touch the ground are heard
over the sound of wind, brush over
the loneliness of the other shore
immersed in the bottom of the bonfire.

It burns the memory, it burns the very essence
of love, it burns the evening, and absence.
Everything must be burned into order to imagine
us anew, in this all-consumed flesh
waiting in the twilight.
Everything will be burnt by the evening,
so that the night can come alone.

A wind is cleaning the night, a tornado
which no one sees, but I hear; it’s sweeping
streets, it’s unburdening the presence
of the creator of our earth; present
and past dialogue, conjugating
echoes of storm; the madness
of the trees spread across the sky.

The clouds pass, carrying black pollen
in the late hours; they close
the corners of moonlight,
caterpillars blowing through the universe.
Slowly, the hours revive ideas,
imagines; recording the instants
blots of time, their existence.

Wineglasses in flames of black trees
burnt from the daily thunder
light up the crest of the tombs
from the growing threat of the river,
a worm of light that is sliding
under the mantle of stars that are falling,
brimming with fish made of fire.

The lights of the night transport
the river. Not even a sailor would ride it.
Only presences orient it. Water
in which the lonely spirits bathe,
nocturnal beings; shadows
which come down to fill their nets
and distill tears, sparks, glasses.

Blue fire is born in the center, the origin
of light, the interruption of life.
We are light, it is from the light we are born from.
The dead, they close their eyes, as lights
that carried a stretch of time.
Finally the lighting leaves, bringing
once again the origin of energy.

Through the head the force departs,
through the source of light it dissipates
the infinite, all which is created.
Creatures of nothing, and to nothing
we return; the eternal fire, the beginning
of another which was never given to us.
In the chaos, to forget is destiny.

In the darkness I look for hoarse
words that follow me; the only song
is that of the crickets under
the red moon; they sorrowfully watch
the silence, as what makes the immense
profundity of the dawn.
The wind, the rain, it shuts out everything.

The day is dark, it falls to the sky.
The storm floods the earth:
breaking down all illusions,
they deliver them to the moon; the ford
blows through the field; fish fly
through the leafless trees.
Not even a word comes to my aid.

In dreams they return to give name to everything;
time is God and nothing; sets
of mazes reproduce themselves
at the beginning of the interrogation
of our path which ends
in the admiration of ignorance,
the destiny of divine spells.

We learned nothing of this mirage
Over the skin of the green almond
suns alight; they spawn moons
full of the images of seeds
floating in the solitude of the tree;
they perfume the secrets which guard
the universe of its greatest secret.

It’s a repetition which is never the same;
the end of the beginning, the sea; the waves;
all echoes, rhythms of the histories
which we create to reinvent ourselves
in timelessness, with the lies
of eternity, the permanence
which we aspire to consecrate.

Naked in front of the truth, all
humble against the thrones, powers
which slave our thoughts;
face the shame with the blood
of our false sibling rivers.
The center of the universe creates patterns,
tides, flows, chlorophylls.

God created the destruction creating
man, which doesn’t stop in its duty
of conquering all of spaces,
times, movements; building
paradises on top of infernos,
dumpsters under ignominy,
enclaves, empires, vassals.

Its creature, while imperfect and inexact,
imposes all of the adjectives
of the mind; it boasts, arrogantly,
of its medals, trophies, marks;
the chest decorated with crosses;
the failures of the others enjoyed;
the tears of pain as its throne.

They pasteurize consciousnesses, gods;
they industrialize sex, happiness
lies; they fabricate stors,
pests; in healthcare centers
they pawn naked feelings,
broken promises, crazy futures
begotten in dead basements.

Fragments of mirror cut the wind
of the reflected desolation
in the dark moon of October.
Of chaos solely vestiges remain.
Alit from behind I walk about
stumbling in the labyrinth,
in the bewilderment of the worlds.

The dreams which rob me of sleep
have nothing do with its insomnia.
My fantasies cross times, causing wings
of infinity to row in the Milk Way,
and explode into a rainbow; the stones
which guard the memory of worlds
cast their heat, lighting my paths.

The bones of my ancestors shout
using traces of calligraphy
signs of interrogation, magic,
pollen warp, butterflies;
the flower guides illuminated, they look
anxiously for the origin of fire,
the impaling of the world.


Carlos Lopez is a Guatemalan-Mexican poet, essayist, and editor. Born in Pajapita, Guatemala in 1954, he studied Latin American Studies and Literature at UNAM, Mexico City, and has published and translated various books of poetry, including Corteza de la otra orilla (2012), Almendranada (2011), Bellotas de agua (2000) y Fuego azul (1997). He currently lives in Cuernavaca.

Kiran Bhat is an Indian-American author, traveller, and polyglot. He is known as the author of We of the Forsaken World…, and has published books in five different languages. His writing published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, The Southern Humanities Review, 3:AM Magazine, Cordite Poetry Review, The Chakkar, and many other places. You can follow him at @WeltgeistKiran.

1 Comment

  1. Ana Fortuny

    You want to read it again and again. The echoes stay inside of you.


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