Four Poems by Víctor Rodríguez Núñez
Translated from the Spanish by Katherine M. Hedeen
This is part of our special feature on Nationalism, Nativism, and the Revolt Against Globalization.
anima of a dismantled marine among the poppies
and the eternal snows south of Kandahar anima of a banker
who just slit his throat
with a blank form in Reykjavik animas to count?
bills won’t work as handkerchiefs
oil isn’t made of tears bituminous fiction
that’s why you don’t burst out crying you’re faithless
not every death lessens you inhuman humanism?
no street shall bear your name
they took it all away from you even what you didn’t have from the seven cardinal points wind only shuffles the bills
absolutely nothing poetic condition free of possessions
still your origin’s listed on the stock exchange free of commitments
still your destiny’s approved in congress at least you can be an indignado
who doesn’t spend the night at the Puerta del Sol
or piss in a park on Wall Street
to take up the rights of the reader don’t anyone dare buy this sonnet
certain questions for Hans Christian Andersen who should answer back uncruelly
what are you going to do in this kingdom if you’re a talking chisel a serf
at the vanguard of a labor union? to plant for the commoners
these grains that starve you to death five-year plan ripe surplus value?
does giving a hand to the one who thinks for you convince you you’re all one tribe
and to hide their crimes
like a top family secret?
like the blind man who pulls his eyes out
because he wants to have a different point of view?
it’s Sunday and the animas herd
despite the labor strike at dawn brightness tomorrow they ought to be pure for commerce free concurrence
stripes stars are shining
in the garden of enriched uranium bad breath tribe
…………………………………………………………………………….even if it does bleach completely
companies agreeing on dispassion while social-democratic winds bark temples haggling sleeplessness
while Bolshevik blizzards mew
on a corner they’re giving away excuses the atheist hour fixed by bells
Víctor Rodríguez Núñez (Havana, 1955) is a poet, journalist, literary critic, translator, and scholar. He has published fifty books of poetry throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and his work has long been the recipient of major awards in the Spanish-speaking world, most recently, Spain’s coveted Loewe Poetry Prize. He has compiled three anthologies that define his poetic generation, as well as another of 20th century Cuban poetry, La poesía del siglo XX en Cuba (2011). He has brought out various critical editions, introductions, and essays on Spanish American poets. One of Cuba’s most outstanding contemporary writers, he divides his time between Gambier, Ohio, where he is Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College, and Havana.
Katherine M. Hedeen is Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College. Her latest book-length translations include Night Badly Written (Action Books) and Tasks (coimpress, longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award, shortlisted for the National Translation Award, 2017) by Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, and Nothing Out of This World, an anthology of contemporary Cuban poetry. She is the Poetry Translation Editor for the Kenyon Review and a two-time recipient of a NEA Translation Project Grant.
Published on February 1, 2018.