Contemporary poetry from Spain “outside The Canon”: Gamoneda, García Valdés, Casado, Santana, Piera and Ramón

29.09.2015_First Autumn Leaves_ Withrow Park_Toronto
Selections from: “Panic Cure”: Poetry from Spain for the 21st Century, translations © Forrest Gander (2013)
. . .
Antonio Gamoneda (born 1931, Oviedo, Spain)
Saturday (Sábado)
That wailing animal, it was in your soul before it went yellow;
the animal given to licking pale wounds,
the one blind to mercy;
that sleeps in the light and is miserable,
the one that thrashes in lightning.
The woman whose heart is blue and feeds you relentlessly,
that’s your mother inside her ire;
the woman who forgets nothing and goes naked in silence,
that was music for your eyes.
Vertigo in the quiet; corporeal substances appear in mirrors and set
doves on fire. You paint trials and tempests and regrets.
Just so, the light of old age, just so
the apparition of pale wounds.
I’m naked near untroubled water. I left my clothes in the silence of the
last branches.
Such was my destiny:
to come to the edge and to shiver at the water’s calm.
. . .
Being in You (Estar en Ti) – from Castilian Blues
I don’t enter you so you lose yourself
under the force of my love;
I don’t enter you to lose myself
in your life or mine;
I love you and I enter your heart
to live with you as you are,
that you might protract yourself in my life.
Not you not me. Not you not me.
Nor your hair spread out although I love it.
Only this unlit companionship.
I’m clear
your hair.
Spread your hair.
. . .
Freedom in Bed (Libertad en la Cama)
Every day I get out of bed
and say goodbye to my partner.
Look: when I put on
my pants
I lose
When night comes, again
I go back to bed and sleep.
Sometimes I dream they take me with my hands tied,
but then I wake and feel the darkness,
and, of the same quality, my wife’s body and mine.
. . .
Olvido García Valdés (born 1950, Asturias, Spain)
from The Third Garden (El tercer jardín)
Another country, another landscape,
another city.
An unknown place
and an unknown body,
your own body, strange
road leading
straight into dread.
The body as another,
and another landscape, another city;
an evening falling over stones
more tenderly gorgeous
than any you’ve seen before,
stones of honey like light.
. . .
from Night Hunt (Caza nocturna)
Remember this Saturday:
tombs excavated from rock,
in semicircles,
facing east,
and the gate in the wall open
to broken fields, to silence
and western light. I need
the eye of wolves
to see. Or love and its radical
contact – that edge,
an intimacy measured only
in distance, its want of pity
charged with tenderness.
So, on that note, acknowledging
the cannibalistic custom, a man eats
a woman, acknowledging
that flesh lives
on flesh, on eyes and their acute attentiveness,
on the time and what took place.
Someone put it elsewise: many times
I thought we were unhappy; now
that misery seems to have been only a face
of our happiness. Bliss
doesn’t rise but falls
like softest rain. Remember
that Saturday in February,
so like this one in November.
Close your eyes. Wear yourself out
climbing on, you without your voice,
carrying that notebook in which you write
things you’d like to say.
The non-materiality of words
blasts us with heat and surprise, a hand
squeezing a shoulder,
warm breath on a jersey.
To the parched, a jug of water,
the eyes of wolves
to see. Context
is everything, cold
transparent air. Something like this:
Tibetan farmers
sitting on the ground, in semicircles,
learning to read at winter’s end,
when work is done, they’re discussing
a photograph, they’re
wrapped up warmly; or a boy
beaten to a pulp,
who time leaves behind,
who is restored, like some old photograph.
Three moths, at the lamp’s light,
enter the glass.
. . .
Miguel Casado (born 1954, Valladolid, Spain)
from False Move (Falso movimiento)
In the City (En la Ciudad)
It happens now and then, this return
of the young fascists, that graffit,
the symbols. Some
laugh it off, probably
others get scared,
driving aimlessly, not noticing
if they’ve left stains on the seats.
Parceled out among
the black and twisted
letters on the wall
are duotone ads. They joke, sure,
and they screw around. With
placards they
plug the windows
of bankrupt businesses.
Sandra Santana (born 1978, Madrid, Spain)
from Is The Verb so Fragile (Es el verbo tan frágil)
The doctor asked her to try to be more concise: “Exactly where does it
hurt?” But even as her index finger approached her knee, the metallic
pain dissolved into a kind of fizzy tingling in her left heel. Embarrassed,
she paused and began again, this time trying to pay stricter attention.
. . .
Interior Lights (Luces de Interior)
(We always allow ourselves to be moved
by the sincerity
others so
unerringly concoct.)
Its warmth
is such that you can feel in the walls
the ceaseless throb of the present.
We’re not going to give up just
when they try to elucidate
the maximum safe distance
between the possible
and the whistling sleep of the audience.
Better to keep watching the screen
and support, on your shoulder,
my head.
Julia Piera (born 1970, Madrid, Spain)
There are empty apartments in the ‘hood. Some residents
turn on the radio at night and dance with those who are
missing. Others wall up the terrace of their apartment
to block out the semi-bourgeois condominiums that
surround them. And they rent a broken telescope to get a
view through the windows. At Christmas they buy coloured
lights and hang them in front. There’s an indoor basketball
court, unpainted, shabby, busted up, where the ten childred
who stay there night and day play alone. One evening, at
sundown, a gunshot went off.
Only the violent step out to the balcony.
. . .
Esther Ramón (born 1970, Madrid, Spain)
snorting through
twinned tunnels
the steam
of deer
sniffing out
the source
of our scent
board nails
the neglect
of syllabical
brushed against
its own branched
stench it tests
the fear combustion
the air snagging just beyond
the reach
of its breath
. . .
Essay (Ensayo)
stealthy by the
sterile oven
everyone asleep
the trapdoor
covered with dirt
and a ladder
slanted down
new statues
the flashlight’s thirst
traces ellipses
over empty bags
a trace of wheat
under the iron taste
of tools
a panic
of rats
. . .
Pigments (Pigmentos)
furtive with limes
we cut the weight
by a few grams
on the covered
plastic indigo
flakes of terracotta
over the surface
we muddle
the hue
with saliva
from work
with rain
albescent cranes
pop up
dancing along
the walls
. . .
Iron Age (Edad del Hierro)
and with stone
sometimes chickens
with their geometries
stiff ferns
lightweight pleistocene
wax and sandstone
weird insects
in amber
shell horns
root cuttings
scrapers necklaces
of flint feathers

. . . . .