defeat

I who never had a trade
who have felt weak in the face of all competition,
who lost the best claims to life
who scarcely arrive at a place before I want to leave (in the belief
that moving on is a solution)
who have been prematurely disowned and helped in a humiliating way
and ridiculed by abler people

I who cling to walls so that I do not fall completely
who am an object of laughter for myself
who believed that my father was eternal
who have been humiliated by teachers of literature
who was answered with a guffaw
when once I asked how I could help
I who shall never build a home, nor sparkle
nor be a winner in life
who have been abandoned by many people
because I hardly ever speak
who feel shame for acts I have not committed
who have been close to starting to run down the street
who have lost a center I never had
who have become the general laughing-stock
because I live in limbo
who shall find no one to put up with me

who was ignored so that attention should be paid to those
more abject than myself
who shall carry on my whole life like this and who next year
will be mocked many more times for my ridiculous ambitions
who am tired of taking advice from others more lethargic than myself
(,,you’re half asleep, get moving, wake up”)
who shall never be able to travel to India
who have accepted favors and given nothing in return
who wander from one side of the city to the other like a feather
who let myself be carried along by the others

who have no personality nor want one
who stifle my rebelliousness all day long
who have not joined the guerrillas
who have done nothing for my people
who do not belong to the *F A L N and who despair over all these things
and others that would make an endless list
who cannot get out of my prison
who have been turned down everywhere because I am of no use
who to tell the truth have not been able to get married
nor go to Paris nor spend a peaceful day
who refuse to recognize facts
who always dribble over my story

who since birth have been an imbecile and an imbecile twice over
who lost the thread of the speech that was being delivered within me
and have not found it
who do not cry when I want to cry,
who am late for everything

who have been ruined by so many advances and retreats
who yearn for perfect immobility and impeccable promptness
who am neither what I am nor what I am not
who in spite of everything have a satanic pride even though
at certain moments my humility has made me feel no taller than the stones
who have lived for fifteen years within the same circle
I who believed myself predestined for something unusual
and have achieved nothing
who shall never wear a tie
who cannot find my body

who have seen my duplicity in lightning flashes
and have not been able to throw myself to the ground, to sweep everything away
and to create a new freshness out of my indolence, my drifting, my eccentricity,
and obstinately [continue] to commit suicide with whatever my hand touches.
I shall get up from the ground more ridiculous than ever
and go on mocking myself and others until the day of the last
judgement.

Rafael Cadenas

*F A L N: (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional) Armed Forces of National Liberation,
military arm of the National Liberation Front of Venezuela.

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what was life

What was life
what
what rotten apple
what leftover
what waste.

If it was a rose
if it was
a golden cloud
and should have flowered
light
in the air.

If it was a rose
if it was a gay flame
if it was anything
weightless
that causes
no pain
that is content to be
anything, anything
that is easy
easy.

It could not have been made up of corridors
of sordid dawns
of revulsion
of unlit tasks
of routines, of credits
it could not have been
it could not.

Not that
what it was
what it is
the dirty air
of the street
the winter
the many errors
the miseries
exhaustion

in a deserted world

Idea Vilariño

the two slopes of time

The hair of that mountain
glistens with centuries,
frozen.

On this side of it,
and on the other,
it is the same; two slopes
of green mirrors.

I do not hurry;
I love to contemplate further from a peak of time
two slopes of mirrors.
When I want to, I say;
One is my body;
the other is my thought.

And it occurs to me to think:
one is the chain of habit,
the shadow of yesterday.
The other is freedom!

There I go!
My soul will go before the stars
that it has vaguely seen,
for it does not wear chains like them.
And eternity must lie in the future for me
and that is all,
because that is what thought believes,
in infancy,
and infancy is the only time when we are
truly prophets.

But the hair of time
glistens with centuries,
frozen.

Emilio Oribe

the horse

He comes through the streets
under the full moon,
a horse killed
in an ancient battle.

His dull hooves. . .
he trembles, he slips,
gives a gloomy neigh
with his distant voice.

At the leaden corner
of the barricade
he stops with empty eyes
and horror.

Later one
can hear his slow tread,
through deserted streets
and through ruined squares.

José María Eguren

the circle

We all leave; but everything remains.
We do not return again to our port.
Those who have died have gone for ever.
The flower that falls decomposes into mud.

Eventually, in another form, the essence of the flower
finds its garden in that mud.
When we die, we shall go through the air,
with uncertain course, in the arms of the great Everything.

We shall return, but without ourselves.
The immortal substance changes form
and some go so that others may come.

The cosmic avenue is circular,
yet without moving outside its pattern
our lives fuse with Life.

Emilio Frugoni

rondel

Love, happiness and content
are birds of passage that
travel the blue of the firmament in a floating line,
breathe out a lament to the air,
and disperse in swift flight.

What are the thousands upon thousands
of generations that shine and sink at sunset,
that are born and succumb in millions?
Birds of passage.

Oh unhappy souls, it is useless
to bind yourself to the world with roots.
Powerful and mysterious impulses
carry us among shadows, aimlessly;
for we are, alas, but eternal wanderers.
Birds of passage.

Manuel González Prada

complete image

Suddenly I saw myself,
a complete image,
with an expression
rehearsed over the years.
I was a man of crystal
who reflected the world,
holding nothing back.
I saw myself different
from the other images
of me alive
in the mirror:
a [darker] shadow on my head,
a [deeper] abyss at my feet,
a [thicker] wood within me;
the unconsciousness of a plant,
obedient to the breeze,
a reed of solitude,
no longer thinking,
— earthly solitude,
my only company! —
I saw myself in a fleeting reflection,
looking from outside
at the being who lives within,
a masked recluse
in his wandering seclusion.

Jorge Carrera Andrade