Five Poets from Trinidad and Tobago – with an introduction by Andre Bagoo

Five poets from Trinidad and Tobago

THE WORLD meets in Trinidad and Tobago.  Here is a Caribbean country open to the possibilities of permeable boundaries, enriched by cultural diversity and charged with the energy needed to drive a special art.

Today, as the former British colony marks its 50th anniversary as an independent nation, we take a look at the work of five contemporary Trinidad-born poets in a series of posts which you will see below.

Most of these poets live in Trinidad, others divide their time between Trinidad and homes in the United Kingdom or the United States.  All share a remarkable vantage point;  all have been influenced by a rich Caribbean literary tradition which predates independence.  Here are travellers: between time, space, dimensions, selves, journeying to and from Shakespeare’s undiscovered country.  They create richly-coloured gems, sparkling like the light bouncing off the floor of a cold, golden sea, and sharp as a diamond blade.

The first post features Mervyn Taylor, the Trinidad-born poet who also lives in New York.  His poem ‘The Mentor’ – which features the persona of a poet “dancing his / mischievous meaning, / tieless, sparkling with / metaphor” – seeks reason but finds the crackling of bones. The poem is an audacious distillation of the challenges facing Trinidad, which may also reflect the challenges of the poet and the individual seeking freedom.

Then, as Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Jubilee year, the Oxford-based poet Vahni Capildeo takes us to London’s Hyde Park only to make us discover that we have never left the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, “Opalescent, Crystalline, Amethyst. And Dark”.  By the time she is done with us we are unsure what ground we walk on and feel walking on water to be a natural state.

In another post we feature the quietly disquieting work of Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, a poet and artist who lives in Sangre Grande, a town in the north-east of Trinidad.

There are also posts by Colin Robinson, whose poetry shows us the sublime in unexpected places, and Nicholas Laughlin, the editor behind the Caribbean Review of Books, whose own work is a tour de force of mood, sound and language – dissecting ideas of alienation like an anthropologist might but with unexpected lyricism.  Both are poets living in Diego Martin, the suburb nestled in the cool mountains of northwest Trinidad which was only this month ravaged by flood.

These poems are not intended as any sort of programmatic depiction of anything.  They are grouped here to speak, whether in harmony or dissonance, of feelings, ideas and impressions.  They are an unauthorised biography which the subject might secretly relish.

Each post is accompanied by an image from the Trinidadian graphic artist Rodell Warner ( who manages to capture a mood and tone that say things about the work, but also about Trinidad and Tobago and its vitality.

Andre Bagoo




Andre Bagoo is a poet and journalist from Trinidad. His first book of poems, Trick Vessels, was published by Shearsman Books (UK) in March 2012. His poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Caribbean Review of Books, The Caribbean Writer, tongues of the ocean and elsewhere. One of his poems, ‘Carnival Monday in Trinidad’, was featured at Zócalo Poets earlier this year.  He is Zócalo Poets’ guest editor today, the 50th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago Independence.

Mervyn Taylor: The Mentor

Mervyn Taylor

The Mentor



In this dream there were

cows in every field,

breaths rising to create

clouds floating above

an island so green,

it seemed made of gases.

And out of this arose the

poet, in a grey suit,

as spry as I’ve ever

seen him, dancing his

mischievous meaning,

tieless, sparkling with

metaphor, asking his trick

question- are you going

with me, are we going

to look for reasons?

In this place I answered,

no one should ever starve,

or complain about things

other than an open gate

through which a stray might

wander lost and unmarked,

ending in dispute settled now

in such devious ways.




You might remember Lena.

In the dream she too

was present, wearing

a hat like a teakettle cover,

remarking those boys who

now live where she grew up,

tattoos marking their bodies,

and a young girl hosting

a perfume sale every Friday,

advertised under

a Digicel sign and one

for computer repairs.

It is rumored this is the

house a mental outpatient

was looking for, when he

smashed the gate

at a wrong address,

took a wheelbarrow handle

and beat a bedridden

90 yr. old to death, those

who harbored the fugitive

he was seeking crouching

next door, saying

not a word, their weapons

like marshmallows in their

pockets, hands over their

ears, blocking the sound of

breaking bones, and screams.




Cows crop the grass,

brown and white backs

seen from above, the land

in undulating waves below.

Out of the few houses,

people in black follow

funerals, fathers refusing

to accept each other’s

apologies, watching their sons

lowered, earth tamped,

they remain, conversing

with the dead. Ah, the poet

smiles his ineffable smile,

those adverbs he warned

against, they shuffle up.

What will we do with them,

now that he is going, trailing

long verses, joining the islands

like cans behind a wedding,

bells pealing in chapels

whose stone walls he worked

hard to capture, inside the

host on Sunday morning,

blood in silver chalices,

the priest’s voice intoning

from memory- sunlight,

stained glass, sin, all in

four-by-four refrain.




This is where they’ve

chosen to reenact the story

of sacrifice, with animals,

gold and greed,

where the washing of hands

goes on every day, governors

and guards swearing

each other away, poets

in corners swearing out

long poems like warrants,

lists of charges read aloud

in a difficult language,

the one in grey asking,

are you going with me, are

we going to understand

what it is we do, and why?


.     .     .


Mervyn Taylor is a Trinidad-born poet who divides his time between Brooklyn and his native island.  He has taught in the New York City public school system, at Bronx Community College and The New School, and is the author of four books of poetry, namely, An Island of His Own (1992), The Goat (1999), Gone Away (2006), and No Back Door (2010, Shearsman Books).  He can be heard on an audio collection, Road Clear, accompanied by bassist David Williams.

Vahni Capildeo: Water / Ice Cream in Hyde Park with Nikki

Vahni Capildeo



I. Cold Hands

There is a moment when

the water seems as if it might be warm.


wash your face

in the illusion


II. The Atlantic.  Like

Putting a handspan square of glass

flat on the sea, thinking I see

something. That’s the sky.

Calling the colour roaring grey

heard in December, when the tide

discourages. That’s a lie


III. Opalescent, Crystalline, Amethyst. And Dark

The sea is.

In my mind I never left you.

The sea


Place-holder, holder of a place:

The sea

Who can hold to this? A causeway.


Essential ground for memory.

Twig-runes dust the shore with bird-tracks.

And the wind


IV. Changes

Swans and rain and swans in rain

Swans and rain

Swans again


.     .     .


Ice Cream In Hyde Park With Nikki

Time flies / she’s a dancer / seagulls & eagles
we’re watching walkers’ & cyclists’ ankles
straight up & down as posts! / larks & starlings
they ain’t / that’s Time / stopping & starting
singlescoop chocolatemint slipup
delicious / xylophonic strip / perfume-smelling forearms
vintage gardenia topnote soprano orangeblossom
she swoops / she sings / Time high-steppng
to her Lambretta scooter!

New York, hold your sidewalk breath


[From Utter (completed 2011; revised 2012. Forthcoming.

‘Water’ is taken from ‘December’, in the 14-month ‘Winter to Winter’ calendar,

Undraining Sea (Norwich: Egg Box, 2009)]

.     .     .


Vahni Capildeo (b. Trinidad, 1973) went to the UK as a student in 1991, completing her BA (Hons) (First Class) in English Language and Literature in 1995 at Christ Church, University of Oxford.  A Rhodes Scholarship (1996-99) enabled her to pursue a doctorate in Old Norse at the same institution.  After a Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge, Capildeo worked for the Oxford English Dictionary on Etymology and quotational research.

Capildeo’s three poetry collections are: Dark & Unaccustomed Words (2012); Undraining Sea(Egg Box, 2009); and No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003).  Her poetry and prose have been widely anthologized, most recently in The Best British Poetry 2012 (Salt, forthcoming).  She has been Highly Commended for the Forward Prize (individual poem category, 2009); shortlisted for the Guyana International Prize for Literature (2011).

Colin Robinson: Indivisible

Colin Robinson



He’s very well rounded

Like his lover like(s) me

An engineer, I have to pry it out

He jokes, I’m 569 years old

Dog years, I ask, what to divide by

Google it’s a prime number

We are linked online

By another man

He too does not remember

We chat routinely about random things


I cam a quickie with a mewling chubby boy

Fantasy is cute in ways reality doesn’t match up to LOL

I type, I never had a good imagination, he IMs back

How Mills & Boons are a good lesson in writing

To make a kiss last four pages

I ask what tongue you grew up speaking

I had to allow my language to fall on all ears

Today we move to a higher order

Talk fetishes, we like the same things

But my numeracy gets the better of me once again

As I calculate the probability

That in any triangulation

Two times out of three

There will be a remainder

Either two or one.



*for Shadath

.     .     .


Colin Robinson is executive director of CAISO, the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation.  His poetry has appeared in many places, including Caribbean Erotic, an anthology published by Peepal Tree Press in 2010. He moves  between the West Indies and the USA.  He was NY field producer for Tongues Untied, led Studio Museum in Harlem’s first three creative responses to World AIDS Day and co-edited Other Countries: Black Gay Voices and Think Again.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortune: Morning Song for a Second Son

Danielle Boodoo-Fortune

Morning Song for a Second Son


Second son, how I fear my own singing.

Each word sounds like regret,

like the rasp of torn laughter

sputtering from the kettle

of your prodigal’s tongue.

Lord knows, I cannot bear the sound.

The house sits deep in darkness,

tarsals click against tile as

you measure the breadth

of another’s shadow.

Son, of all the things I’ve made,

you are the truest, and the one

most unknown to me.

Each tic in your jaw is an ocean

of hurt I cannot cross

How I wish I could sing for you.


.     .     .


Danielle Boodoo-Fortune is a Trinidadian poet and artist.  Her work has been featured in The Caribbean Writer, Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, Tongues of the Ocean, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Small Axe Literary Salon, and Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing.  Her art has been featured at Trinidad’s Erotic Art Week 2011, and the WoMA (Women Make Art) exhibition, in Grenada, 2012.  Her art has also been featured in St. Somewhere Journal, Firestorm Literary Journal, Splash of Red Literary Arts Magazine, and on the cover of Blackberry: A Magazine.  She was awarded the Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for first time publication in 2009, nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010, and shortlisted for the Small Axe Poetry Prize in 2009 and 2011.

Nicholas Laughlin: Self-Portrait in the Neotropics

Nicholas Laughlin

Self-Portrait in the Neotropics


Eleven of the strange years of my life.
Months on end I lived on tapioca,
I lived on mud and permanganate broth,
and river water red as rum,
bivouacked with rainflies
and fire ants and sundry native guides.
The parrots already knew some French.
Nous sommes les seuls français ici.
Call it sunstroke, le coup de bambou.
I came all this way with half a plan,
an extra handkerchief, and Humboldt (abridged).
Here I lack only the things I do not have.


Eleven years of untimely weather,
earthquakes and fireflies and mud.
The colonel writes his complaints to the general.
The general writes his complaints to the emperor.
The emperor writes to Jesus Christ,
who damns us all.
Nous sommes les seuls français left in the world.
I came all this bloody way
to sit in a cheap café with bandaged hands.
I translate detective novels, Dr. Janvier.
It keeps me in dinero, out of trouble.
I miss only the friends I do not have.




[From The Strange Years of My Life,

a sequence first published at Almost Island,

which you can read at: (see winter 2011/poetry)]

.     .     .


Nicholas Laughlin is the editor of The Caribbean Review of Books and the arts and travel magazine Caribbean Beat; programme director of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, an annual literary festival based in Trinidad and Tobago; and co-director of the contemporary art centre Alice Yard.

Macuilxochitzin / Macuilxóchitl: poetisa mexica del siglo XV


Canto de Macuilxochitzin


Elevo mis cantos,

Yo, Macuilxóchitl,

con ellos alegro al “Dador de la Vida”,

¡comience la danza!


¿Adonde de algún modo se existe,

a la casa de Él

se llevan los cantos?

¿O sólo aquí

están vuestras flores?,

¡comience la danza!


El matlatzinca

es tu merecimiento de gentes, señor Itzcóatl:

¡Axayacatzin, tú conquistaste

la ciudad de Tlacotépec!

Allá fueron a hacer giros tus flores,

tus mariposas.

Con ésto has causado alegría.

El matlatzinca

está en Toluca, en Tlacotépec.


Lentamente hace ofrenda

de flores y plumas

al “Dador de la Vida”.

Pone los escudos de las águilas

en los brazos de los hombres,

allá donde arde la guerra,

en el interior de la llanura.

Como nuestros cantos,

como nuestras flores,

así, tú, el guerrero de cabeza rapada,

das alegría al “Dador de la Vida”.

Las flores del águila

quedan en tus manos,

señor Axayácatl.

Con flores divinas,

con flores de guerra

queda cubierto,

con ellas se embriaga

el que está a nuestro lado.


Sobre nosotros se abren

las flores de guerra,

en Ehcatépec, en México,

con ellas se embriaga el que está a nuestro lado.

Se han mostrado atrevidos

los príncipes,

los de Acolhuacan,

vosotros los tecpanecas.

Por todas partes Axayácatl

hizo conquistas,

en Matlatzinco, en Malinalco,

en Ocuillan, en Tequaloya, en Xocotitlan.

Por aquí vino a salir.

Allá en Xiquipilco a Axayácatl

lo hirió en la pierna un otomí,

su nombre era Tlílatl.


Se fue éste a buscar a sus mujeres,

Les dijo:

“Preparadle un braguero, una capa,

se los daréis, vosotras que sois valientes.”

Axayácatl exclamó:

“¡Que venga el otomí

que me ha herido en la pierna!”

El otomí tuvo miedo,


“¡En verdad me matarán!”

Trajo entonces un grueso madero

y la piel de un venado,

con ésto hizo reverencia a Axayácatl.

Estaba lleno de miedo el otomí.

Pero entonces sus mujeres

por él hicieron súplica a Axayácatl.


.     .     .

Traducción del náhuatl al español:

Miguel León-Portilla, 2003

.     .     .


En náhuatl:

Macuilxochitzin Icuic


A nonpehua noncuica,

ni Macuilxochitl,

zan noconahuiltia o a in ipalnemoa,

yn maconnetotilo – ohuaya, ohuaya!



can o ye ichan

im a itquihua in cuicatl?

Ic zanio nican

y izca anmoxochiuh?

In ma onnetotilo – ohuaya, ohuaya!


Temomacehual matlatzincatl,


In Axayacatzin ticmomoyahuaco

in altepetl in Tlacotepec – a ohuaya!

O ylacatziuh ya ommoxochiuyh,


Ic toconahuiltia.

In matlatzincatl, in Toloca, in Tlacotepec – a ohuaya.


Ayaxca ocontemaca

in xochitlaihuitla

ypalnemoa – ohuaya.

In quauhichimalli in temac,

ye quimana – ohuican ouihua,

yan tlachinolli itic,

yxtlahuatl itic – ohuaya, ohuaya.

In neneuhqui in tocuic,

neneuhqui in toxochiuh,

can tiquaochpan,

in toconahuiltia ypalnemoa – ohuaya, ohuaya.

In quauhxochitl

in momac ommani,


In teoaxochitl,

in tlachinolxochitl ic,


yca yhuintihua

in tonahuac onoca – ohuaya, ohuaya.


Topan cueponi – a

yaoxochitl – a,

in Ehecatepec, in Mexico – ye ohoye

ye huiloya yca yhuintihua

in tonahuac onoc.


Za ye netlapalolo

in tepilhuan,

in acolihuaque,

an antepaneca – ohuaya, ohuaya.


In otepeuh Axayaca


Matlatzinco, Malinalco,

Ocuillan, Tequaloya, Xohcotitlan.

Nican ohualquizaco.

Xiquipilco oncan

oquimetzhuitec ce otomitl,

ytoca Tlilatl.


Auh yn oahcico,

quimilhui ycihuahuan:

– Xitlacencahuacan in maxtlatl, in tilmatli,

anquimacazque amoquichui.


– Ma huallauh yn otomitl,

yn onechmetzhuitec!

Momauhtihtica yn otomitl,


– Anca ye nechmictizque!

Quihualhuica in huepantli,

in tlaxipehualli in mazatl,

ic quitlapaloco in Axaya.


Auh zan oquitlauhtique yn icihuahuan Axayaca.




La princesa Macuilxochitzin/Macuilxóchitl nació en México-Tenochtitlan hacia 1435 y vivió la buena parte del siglo XV.  Fue hija de Tlacaélel, un consejero de los reyes aztecas.  Desde pequeña recibió la mejor educación;  también escuchó de la boca de su madre los antiguos consejos de los mexicas.  Y, por supuesto, ella conocía los artes del bordado y del telar.

Este poema – El Canto de Macuilxochitzin – trata de una conquista mexica del año 1476.  Era la intención de la poetisa dar gracias al “Dador de la Vida” y preservar el cuento de la victoria de su pueblo.

El original se incluye en la colección de la BNM (Biblioteca Nacional de México).

Nurun Nahar’s “Mankind who – You, for such” – an inspirational Bengali poem for Eid-ul-Fitr 2012

Nurun Nahar (1924-1992) was born in Tangail, Bangladesh.  She wrote this poem in her youth.   Artist, writer, and mother of five,  she could crochet blankets in her sleep.  Translation by Syeda Parvin Shirin, her only daughter.  Photo by Laboni Islam, one of Nurun’s many grand-daughters.

Nezahualcoyotzin: in xochitl in cuicatl / Nezahualcóyotl: su “flor y canto”(poesía náhuatl)…y poemas del siglo xxi, inspirados en él

Nezahualcoyotzin (1402-1472)

Amoxcalco pehua cuica 


Amoxcalco pehua cuica

yeyecohua  Yehuaya

quimoyahua xochitl

on ahuia cuicatl.

Oha mayya hue hahuayya … Ohuaya Ohuaya.


Icahuaca cuicatl

oyohualli ehua-tihuitz

zan quinanquiliya


quimoyahua xochitl

on ahuia cuicatl.


Xochiticpac cuica

in yectli cocoxqui

ye con ya totama


Ho ilili yaha ilili yio

hui ohui ohui … Ohuaya  Ohuaya.


Zan ye con nanquilia

in nepepan quechol

in yectli quechol

in huel ya cuica

ha ilili yaha ililili

ohui ohui ohui … Ohuaya Ohuaya.


Amoxtlacuilol in moyollo

tocuicaticaco in tictzotzona in mohuehueuh

in ticuicanitl

xopan cala itec,

in tonteyahuiltiya.

Yao yli yaha ilili lili iliya ohama hayya … Ohuaya Ohuaya.


Zan tic moyahua

in puyuma xochitli

in cacahua xochitli

in ticuicanitl

xopan cala itec

in tonteyahuiltiya

Yao ya oli yaha ilili lili iliya ohama … Ohuaya Ohuaya.


Xochitli tic ya mana

in nepapan xochitli

ic zan tonteyahuiltiya

ti tepiltzan o ti Nezahualcoyotzin

ah noyol quimati

momaco on maniya


xopan in xochitli.

No ama ha om hama hay yaha … Ohuaya Ohuaya.


Zan moch ompa ye huitze

onmeyocan ilhuicatli itec

o ica tonteyahuiltiya

ti tepiltzin o ti Nezahualcoyotzin

ah noyol quimati

momaco on maniya


xopan in xochitli.



(El rey-poeta de Texcoco, 1402-1472)

Un Libro de Canto es tu Corazón


En casa de musgo acuático

comienza a cantar,

ensaya su canto.

Derrama flores:

deleita el canto.


Repercute el canto,

suenan ligeros los cascabeles:

les responden nuestras sonajas floridas.

Derrama flores:

deleita el canto.


Canta sobre las flores

el hermosos faisán:

ya despliega su canto

dentro del agua.


Le responden los variados pájaros rojos,

los hermosos pájaros rojos:

bellamente cantan.


Un libro de cantos es tu corazón:

has venido a hacer oír tu canto,

tañendo estás tu atabal.

Eres cantor:

entre flores de primavera

deleitas a las personas.


Ya estás repartiendo

flores de fragrancia embriagadora,

flores preciosas:

eres cantor:

entre flores de primavera

deleitas a las personas.


Flores ofreces,

variadas flores:

con ellas deleitas a los hombres,

oh príncipe Nezahualcóyotl:

ah, mi corazón lo saborea:

se dan y perduran:

con ellas te haces un collar,

con flores primaverales.


De allá sólo vienen todas

del sitio de la Dualidad,

de dentro del cielo:

con ellas deleitas a los hombres,

oh príncipe Nezahualcóyotl:

ah, mi corazón lo saborea:

se dan y perduran:

con ellas te haces un collar,

con flores primaverales.


Traducción del náhuatl al español:  Ángel M. Garibay (1972)



Nitlayocoya, Nicnotlamatiya


Nitlayocoya, nicnotlamatiya,

zan nitepiltzin Nezahualcoyotl.

Xochitica ye ihuan cuicatica

niquimilnamiqui tepilhuan,

ayn oyaque,

yehua Tezozomoctzin, o yehuan Cuacuauhtzin


Oc nellin nemoan,


¡Maya niquintoca in intepilhuan,

maya niquimonitquili toxochiuh!

ma ic ytech nonaci,

yectli yan cuicatl in Tezozomoctzin.

O ayc ompolihuiz in moteyo,

¡nopiltzin, Tezozomoctzin!,

anca za ye in mocuic a yca


yn zan hihualicnotlamatico,



Zan nihualayocoya, nicnotlamati.

Ayoquic, ayoc,


titechyaitaquiuh in tlalticpac,

yca, nontiya.



Recuerdo de Tezozomoctzin y Cuacuauhtzin


Estoy triste, me aflijo,

yo, el señor Nezahualcoyotl.

Con flores y con cantos

recuerdo a los príncipes,

a los que se fueron,

a Tezozomoctzin, a Cuacuauhtzin.


En verdad viven,

allá en donde de algún modo se existe.

¡Ojalá pudiera yo seguir a los príncipes,

llevarles nuestras flores!

¡Si pudiera yo hacer míos

los hermosos cantos de Tezozomoctzin!

Jamás perecerá tu renombre,

¡oh, mi señor, tú, Tezozomoctzin!

Así, echando de menos tus cantos,

me he venido a afligir,

sólo he venido a quedar triste,

yo a mí mismo me desgarro.


He venido a estar triste, me aflijo.

Ya no estás aquí, ya no,

en la región donde de algún modo se existe,

nos dejaste sin provisión en la Tierra,

por esto, a mí mismo me desgarro.

Traducción del náhuatl al español:


Miguel León-Portilla (1972)


Yoyontzin (Nezahualcoyotzin)

Yeccan tinemico xochipan…


Yeccan tinemico xochipan tinemico,

ah in tocnihuan.

¡Ma yuhcan quentetl,

ma on nemohua!


In zan in ni Yoyon*

ye nican paqui

toyollo tixco timatico

yectli totlatol

ah in tochihuan.

In zan achico.

¡Ma yuhcan quentetl,

ma on nemohua!


*Yoyon = Yoyontzin = Nezahualcoyotzin


Vivimos en buen tiempo

por Yoyotzin (nombre honorífico de Nezahualcóyotl)


¡Vivimos en buen tiempo, vivimos sobre flores,

oh amigos!

¡Aunque así es un momento,

que así se viva!


Yo soy Yoyon*:

aquí me alegro.

Nuestra cara, nuestro corazón vinimos a conocer:

bellas son nuestras palabras,

oh amigos.

¡Sólo por breve tiempo!

¡Aunque así es un momento,

que así se viva!



Traductor:  Ángel M. Garibay



In zan o ihui tinemi


In zan o ihui tinemi

zan cuel achic in motloc

monahuac in ipalnemohuani.

Ni hual neiximacho

tlalticpac ye nican.

Ayac mocahuaz:

Quetzalli ya pupuztequi

in tlacuilolli zan no pupulihui

xochitl a cuitlahui:

ixquich ompa ya huicalo

ye ichan.



Vida fugaz


¡Así es como vivimos!:

breve instante a tu lado,

junto a ti, Autor de la Vida:

vine a que me conozcan

aquí, sobre la Tierra.

¡Nadie habrá de quedarse!:

Plumas de quetzal se hacen trizas,

pinturas se van destruyendo,

las flores, se marchitan.

¡Todo es llevado allá

a la casa del Sol!


Traductor:  Ángel M. Garibay



Ah tlamiz noxochiuh


Ah tlamiz noxochiuh

Ah tlamiz nocuic

In nocon ya ehua

Zan nicuicanitl.


Xexelihui moyahua

Cozahuia xochitl:

Ye on calaquilo

Zacuan calitic.



No acabarán mis flores


No acabarán mis flores,

no acabarán mis cantos:

yo los elevo:

no más soy un cantor.


¡Se reparten, se difunden,

amarillecen las flores:

ya son llevadas

dentro de una mansión de doradas plumas!


Traductor: Ángel M. Garibay


Cuatro poetas contemporáneos

inspirados en la poesía “flor y canto” del rey-poeta azteca, Nezahualcóyotl


Raúl Cáceres Carenzo

Canto al rey poeta


Príncipe Nezahualcóyotl,

con tus versos escribo

este poema:

Nuestro corazón esparce cantos,

irradia flores

en la mitad de la noche.


En la casa de las pinturas

nos encontramos nuevamente:

la hermandad de los amigos,

la comunidad,

la nobleza.


Tu canto resuena de nuevo.

Nuestras cascabelas se hacen oír.

Nuestras sonajas floridas,

nuestros atabales

responden a tu canto

Alegra nuestros corazones.

Derrama flores.

Esparce el canto.


Libro de pinturas es tu corazón.

En la casa de la primavera resuenan tus cantos.


Aquí lo entiende entonces mi corazón:

Oigo una flor/Veo el canto


En el libro de pinturas del poeta hallamos

al Dador de la vida.

Con flores escribes, Príncipe Nezahualcóyotl:

con cantos das color,

con cantos sombreas

A los que han de vivir en la tierra.


Sólo en tu libro de pinturas vivimos.

Así lo comprende hoy mi corazón.


Uriel Valencia

La canción de Dirse


1.   Junto a los pájaros la lluvia del tiempo/

a la hora en que el viento guarda lo que la vida trae

alguien esconde el polen herido de la tarde/

a la hora en que la soledad reposa

su despiadada ofrenda/

a la hora en que tú creces

llena de esta ternura de azogue/

en algún sitio

mi locura

el jazz intermitente que submerge en alcohol

la tristeza/

entonces habla de Dirse/

del origen que transita tu nombre/

del galope azul el llanto/

a la hora en que la noche abre el frío de la espera

la lluvia agonizante las veredas secretas

del miedo descubre/

entonces/y sólo entonces/cuando la poesía escribe/


transitas la sangre/


las espuelas sublimes del deseo.


2.   aquí encendimos por ti los caminos de la brisa/

aquí del amor sus barcos/

de la palabra su leve aventura/

aquí los pasadizos

y túneles báquicos del íntimo orgasmo/

sus himnos de guerra/


3.   tengo junto la vida que es todo lo que tengo/

todo lo que acecha ceniza ungida de milagros/

de barro este puñal de asombro/

en el viento la palabra que es todo lo que tengo/

la piel y el vino aterido de sombras/

pero en ti todo lo que es mío y te habla


aquí los días del asedio que en esta noche enumeras/

rastreándome hierve descalzo el silencio

en el llano/

en los dinteles de la historia/


aquí todas las inscripciones y telúricos dardos

y junto a ti/

¡Oh Dirse!/

la poesía que es todo lo que tengo…


Yamilé Paz Paredes

Pintar tu canto

(A Nezahualcóyotl)


Ponme como la flor de leche

sobre tu frente

Ponme como la flor rosada del cacao

sobre tu pecho

Ponme como la flor de maíz amarillo

alrededor de tu cintura


Sólo en las flores hay encuentro

Sólo en las flores hay abrazo

Sólo en las flores hay reunión


El canto de los poetas es un inmenso

ramo de flores

Y el poema es una flor


Ponme como la flor del amanecer

sobre tu boca

No te sacies de flores

que no se sacie nunca de flores y de canto

tu corazón

Píntame en el interior de una piel de venado

con tinta negra y roja

Con esa doble tinta con la cual los poetas

hacen cantar los códices

Ponme como la flor de girasol

sobre tu voz

Que no se desgrane

Que no se marchite

Que no se quiebre esa flor


Derrámame en la tierra

como un canto florido

Fecúndame en la noche

como el viento de estío

Ponme como una flor de luna

sobre tu corazón.


Sergio García Díaz

Este Coyote


Este Coyote humedece sus belfos.

Lame palabras caramelo.

Persigue zorritas confundido.

Tiene hambre, pero dice que está en ayuno.


Es un estratega, tiene sueños.

Separa las aguas saladas de las dulces.

Riega jardines y se baña tres veces al día.

Toma pulque, duerme y las estrellas lo arrullan.

Cien mujeres esperando están.


Es guerrero, tiene lanza, rodela y mira desde lejos

al que viene y al que va.

Sube al monte y en una piedra construye anáforas.

Se comunica con la humanidad.


Sus lágrimas llenan cuencas que se desbordan;

secas, son salitre y, en marzo, remolinos

que se van.

El caos es su fuerza

y la metáfora su forma de comunicar.


Le dicen Coyote

porque platica con la luna

y en ayunas

construye una ciudad.


Territorio simbólico,

espacio abierto, tiempo inmóvil,

vasta geografía,

mítica, sagrada.



zurce los amplios pliegues del tejido social,

muere por nosotros, aquí, en la hora,

de nuestra vida, amén.



símbolo de lujuria

cobijo de los desvalidos,

soledad acompañada de monólogos internos.


Lluvia de colores,

mural de perros:

axolotl, escuincles,

coyote en ayuno.



aúlla por nosotros,



La selección de poemas contemporáneos está del libro conmemorativo – “Tú vivirás para siempre:  poemas a Nezahualcóyotl”  © 2002, Francisco Javier Estrada, editor

“The Shyp of Folys of the Worlde” (1509), translated by Alexander Barclay from Sebastian Brant’s “Das Narrenschiff” (1494)

The Ship of Fools was as popular in its English dress as it had been in its original German garb.  Here was a new satirical literature, itself a product of the mediaeval conception of The Fool.  But now the figures are no longer abstractions;  they are concrete examples of Folly:  of the bibliophile who collects books but learns nothing from them, of the evil judge who takes bribes, of the procrastinator, of those who eagerly follow fashion, etc…

Das Narrenschiff (The Ship of Fools) by German humanist and satirist Sebastian Brant (1457-1521) was first printed in 1494, with woodblock prints illustrating each of his 113 varieties of Fool.  In the next decade and a half the book was translated into several European languages – a “popular” book in its day, when the technology of the printing press was in its infancy.

The Ship of Fools’ verses describe sins and vices, really, rather than follies, and Brant’s didactic tone is reflected in Alexander Barclay’s translation.  The Scottish Barclay (1476-1552) took the liberties that only a poet – and a translator – can, in the fact that Barclay translated “oute of Laten, Frenche, and Doche…sometyme addynge, sometyme detractinge and takinge away suche thinges as semeth me necessary and superflue.”

Barclay’s poem/translation is written in the ordinary Chaucerian stanza, using language which was in fact more modern than the common literary English of his day (1509).



Excerpt from Alexander Barclay’s

“The Shyp of Folys of the Worlde”(1509)

“Of tale berers, fals reporters, and prometers of stryfes”



Some ar that thynke the pleasoure and ioy of theyr lyfe

To brynge men in brawlynge to discorde and debate

Enioynge to moue them to chydynge and to stryfe

And where loue before was to cause mortall hate

With the comonty, and many great estate

Suche is moche wors than outher murderer or thefe

For ofte of his talys procedeth grete myschefe

Within his mouth is venym Jeperdous and vyle

His tonge styll laboryth lesynges to contryue

His mynde styll museth of falshode and on gyle

Therwith to trobyll suche as gladly wolde nat stryue

Somtyme his wordes as dartis he doth dryue

Agaynst good men: for onely his delyte.

Is set to sclaunder to diffame and bacbyte.

And namely them that fautles ar and innocent.

Of conscience clene, and maners commendable

These dryuyls sclaunder, beynge full dilygent.

To deuyde, louers that ar moste agreable

His tonge Infect his mynde abhomynable

Infectyth loue and ouertourneth charyte

Of them that longe tyme haue lyuyd in amyte

But he that accused is thus without all faute

And so sclaundred of this caytyf vnthryfty

Knowyth nought of this ieoperdous assaute

For he nought dowteth that is no thynge fauty

Thus whyle he nought feryth comyth sodaynly

This venemous doloure distaynynge his gode name

And so gyltles put to rebuke, and to shame.

Thus if one serche and seke the worlde ouerall

Than a backbyter nought is more peryllous

His mynde myscheuous, his wordys ar mortall

His damnable byt is foule and venemous

A thousande lyes of gyles odyous

He castyth out where he wolde haue debate

Engendrynge murder whan he his tyme can wayt

Where as any frendes lyueth in accorde

Faythfull and true: this cowarde and caytyf

With his fals talys them bryngeth to dyscorde

And with his venym kepeth them in stryfe

But howe beit that he thus pas forth his lyfe

Sawynge his sede of debate and myschefe

His darte oft retourneth to his own reprefe

But nat withstandynge, suche boldely wyl excuse

His fals dyffamynge: as fautles and innocent.

If any hym for his dedes worthely accuse

He couereth his venym: as symple of intent.

Other ar whiche flater: and to euery thynge assent.

Before face folowynge the way of adulacion,

Whiche afterwarde sore hurteth by detraccion.

The worlde is nowe alle set on dyffamacion.

Suche ar moste cherisshed that best can forge a tale.

Whych shulde be moste had in abhomynacion.

And so they ar of wyse men without fayle.

But suche as ar voyde of wysdom and counsayle

Inclyneth theyr erys to sclander and detraccion,

Moche rather than they wolde to a noble sermon.

But euery Sclanderer, and begynner of stryfe.

Lousers of loue, and infecters of Charite.

Unworthy ar to lyue here at large in this lyfe.

But in derke Dongeon they worthy ar to be.

And there to remayne in pryson tyl they dye.

For with there yl tunges they labour to destroy

Concorde: whiche cause is of loue and of ioy.

An olde quean that hath ben nought al hyr dayes.

Whiche oft hath for money hyr body let to hyre

Thynketh that al other doth folowe hyr olde wayes.

So she and hyr boul felawes syttinge by the fyre.

The Boule about walkynge with theyr tunges they conspyre

Agaynst goode peple, to sclander them wyth shame.

Than shal the noughty doughter lerne of the bawdy dame.

By his warkes knowen is euery creature

For if one good, louynge, meke and charitable be.

He labours no debates amonge men to procure.

But coueyteth to norysshe true loue and charite.

Where as the other ful of falshode and iniquyte

Theyr synguler plesour put to ingender variaunce.

But oft theyr folysshe stody retournes to theyr myschaunce

Therfore ye bacbyters that folke thus dyffame

Leue of your lewdnes and note wel this sentence.

Which Cryist hymself sayd: to great rebuke and shame

Unto them that sclandreth a man of Innocence.

Wo be to them whych by malyuolence

Slandreth or dyffameth any creature.

But wel is hym that wyth pacience can indure.