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tearing the rag off the bush again
Mario Melendez translated by Ron Hudson PDF E-mail
Mario Meléndez
translated by Ron Hudson

My sister awoke me very early
that morning and said to me
“ Get up, you have to come and see
the sea has been filled with stars
Marveled by this revelation

I hastily dressed myself and thought
“If the sea has been filled with stars

I should take the first plane
and gather all the fishes from the sky”

I must be careful of the worms
when they bury me
most certainly
they will speak badly of me
they will spit on my poems
and urinate on the fresh flowers
that will adorn my tomb
it may well be the case
that  they even devour my bones
tear out my intestines
or at the height of injustice
rob my gold tooth
and all this because in life
never did I write about them


Eve hung her dead from the window
so that the air might lick the faces
impregnated with scars
. She looked at those faces and smiled
while the wind pushed her breasts
to the wormy night. 
An orgy of aromas shook the silence
where she desired herself
and among sighs and good-byes
a blind cricket weeded
his old violins. 
No one approached Eve 
when she suckled her dead
the anger and the cold 
fought over her adolescence 
the orgasm gave way to  horror
 the desire to  blood
 and small violent creatures
 took off  from her belly
populating the dawn
with conflict and nightmares. 
when all was calm
and the shadows finally
went back to their source 
Eve put away her dead
kissing them on the mouth
and she slept naked on top of them
until the next full moon


The girl with the open dress
rises at the hour
in which the words are celebrating
for she herself is a celebration
 when she stretches her thighs to the sun 
and the wind caresses her
with its infinite fingers. 
A tricycle of crystal awaits her
next to the flowers in the yard
 and a nest of blind butterflies
that are  undressing among her bones of honey
And in her bed of blue feathers
 she hangs her braids of wheat
and counts her dead bees 
until falling asleep
while the evening envelopes her
with its yellow lips. 
The girl with the open dress 
awakens at the hour 
in which clocks dream because she herself is a dream 
when she opens her dress
 and the sparrows flock 
crazy with love 
above her paper breasts

Take me with you to the south
of your hips
where the humidity
envelops the trees
that emerge from your body
Take me with you to the deep earth
that looms between your legs
to that small north of your breasts
Take me with you to the cold desert
that threatens your mouth
to the exiled oasis of your navel
Take me with you to the west of those feet
that were mine
of those hands that enclosed
the sea and the mountains
Take me with you to other villages
with the first kiss
to the interminable region
of tongue and flowers
to that genital route
to that river of ash that you spill
Take me with you everywhere, love
and everywhere direct my fingers
as if you were the homeland
and I, your only inhabitant


A woman is standing on a bridge 
that has never existed

Her skin that has never been kissed

floats on the waters of time
like a faceless memory

A letter that has never been read

struggles to reach the riverbank

to be discovered by someone

A man who has never read

who cannot read
who has never learned to

finds the letter and the body
beneath this bridge

The man cries from impotence
while the letter disintegrates
in his fingers

The river which is full of tears
pities this man
and reveals to him the secret of this letter

And the man, insane with love

brings together his nights and his delirium 
to jump from this bridge

that has never existed


The child asks his father

if words grow old

The father responds to the child

that words remain as young
as on the first day

The child runs to his grandfather

to bring him the good news

And the elder abruptly opens
the word drawer

so that they will tell him the secret


I am the child who plays with the foam 
of the hopeless seas 

On this beach garlanded with gulls 
I stretch my arms like lazy nets 

while the waves pinch my dreams 
and a single tear breaks against the rocks 

The cliffs loom over the shore
they come barefooted to dance on my soul 

and their lips bring seaweed and coral 
the yeast of the sea converted into a kiss 

I move my feet then 
like two old oars

my heart is an ocean of faces and hands 

and I enter there unwittingly 
with my luggage of sand 

clutching the wind’s rudder 
at the prow of the years 

where a voice that is not my voice

raises the anchor of this small boat 
that slips away with my childhood on board


All of the cats in my neighborhood

are Sinatra fans  
they begin to la-la-la his the
a soon as I put on the CD

and the voice flows

between the ceiling and the brick walls

At times they beg me

to repeat some single

then the sound of “My Way”
“New York” or “Let Me Try Again”

pricks up their whiskers
and throws them headfirst against the glass

This does not happen when I read my verses

they stretch, yawn
look away

or chat amongst themselves
in a lamentable display

of ignorance and sabotage
"You do not understand me"

I tell them
And I put on the CD again
so that Sinatra sings

and those cats are filled with poetry

Caperucita never imagined that El Lobo would leave her for another woman. She never paid attention to the advice given in matters of love by her Grandmother. It would seem that one morning El Lobo told her "Caperucita, I want to break up with you. It no longer excites me to chase you through the woods; it no longer pleases me to dress as your grandmother to allow you to tell me your usual stupidities, that I have big ears and eyes such sharp teeth, and me, like an idiot, responding that they are the better to hear you, smell you and see you. No, Caperucita, our relationship is over."  So Caperucita, disconcerted by this confession, set out to run as far away as she could, thinking of the class of woman who had conquered the heart of her lover. "It is her, I must be like her", repeated the child while searching desperately the house of the old woman. "Grandmother", she finally cried, when she had contemplated the face lying in the bed, "how could you do this to me? You, the friend in which I confided most?" "I am sorry", said the other woman, "I never expected to become pregnant at my age, and much less from someone so intelligent and imaginative. Nevertheless, he is a responsible wolf, who I do not doubt for a minute, for offering me marriage on hearing the news. I am sorry, Caperucita, you must seek out someone else. After all, this is not the only wolf in the world, right?

Translated by Ron Hudson

Mario Meléndez, born in 1971, from Linares, Chile, studied Journalism and Social Communication. Among his books, “Autocultura y juicio” (with preface from the National Prize of Literature, Roque Esteban Scarpa), “Poesía desdoblada”, “Apuntes para una leyenda”, “Vuelo subterráneo”, “El circo de papel” y “La muerte tiene los días contados” are most prominent. In 1993, he received the Municipal Prize for Literature for the Bicentenial of Linares. His poems have appeared in various Latin American literary revues and in national and foreign anthologies. He has been invited to numerous literary conferences, notably including The First and Second Latin-American Writers Conference, organized by the Society of Writers of Chile, Santiago, 2001 and 2002, as well as the First International Conference on Amnesty and Solidarity with the People, Rome, Italy, 2003. At the beginning of 2005, his work was published in the prestigious magazines “Other Voices Poetry” and “Literati Magazine.” That same year, he was awarded the Harvest International Prize, given by the University of California-Pomona in the United States, for best Spanish-language poem. His work has been translated into Italian, English, French, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Romanian, Bulgarian, Farsi and Catalan. For four years, he lived in Mexico City, where he conducted literary workshops and various cultural projects, as well as having directed the collection of Latino-American Poets in Laberinto Editions. He also created various anthologies of Chilean and Latin-American Poetry. Currently, he is living in Italy, where he has lectured on Latin-American Poetry at the University of Urbino and he has held readings of his texts, translated to Italian by the poet and essayist Emilio Coco for the International Festival of Daunia Poetry of San Severo and in Dire Poetry of Vicenza. In December, 2012, he was invited to attend the Book Fair of Rome by the Italo-Latin-American Institute. At the beginning of 2013, he received the Medal of the President of the Italian Republic, given by the International Foundation Don Luigi di Liegro. He is considered one of the most important voices of new Latin-American Poetry.
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