Luis Muñoz

Traducciones

Doctor Poem

He doesn’t check my heart.
He would much rather keep me in
for observation.

My case notes offer one more chance
to study what he knows.

The white space here he lives
trembles like a drum-skin.
The waiting room’s empty.
The sounds of the past drift by
scarcely riffling the air.

He has still to establish my pain threshold.
He really must see me alone.
I tell him what he wants to hear.

He wants me to think I’m a challenge,
that he considers me important,
that he’s come to rely on me.

He keeps silence close at hand - that breadcrumb texture -
in case of emergencias.

Minutes go by
like centuries, bubbling up
in fountains of water and light.

He doesn’t give me a prescription,
he just tells me to make another appointment.

A Brief History of Time

One thing’s for sure:
these years won’t come again.
You will live out your meagre share
of apportioned time,
your eyes will be fretted with shadows
and, after a while,
the light will annul your face
in the null of the glass.

And it won’t be that long, so they say,
till you’re sick to your soul
of watching, as the windows
fade to grey,
sifting the dregs of your life
for a paradise lost
that you know you once had, more or less,
on a day like today.

At First Light

On its spider’s legs
the day barely touches
what it touches.
A faint wind
ruffles the shore.
Often enough, I have heard,
though I cannot agree:
we are creatures of repetition.

No:
on the chain of things past
and of things still desired
the day we are living
is one.

Picture Postcards

They take a nice little apartment
in a nice little seaside town
in the first flush of desire.
The neighbours admire
their sweet sufficiency
with wondering eyes,
their ambiguous closeness
when they go the beach,
the odd friends coming round
at all hours,
the uncontrollable laughter,
the endless jubilee
of tea-lights and shiny new gadgets,
whole days going round the market
and that dark whirl of cries and murmurs
that seems to accompany them
wherever they go.

A fortnight later
conflicting thoughts,
an odd sense
of dying embers
and the worrying image
of something close to happiness,

and, years after that,
in some northern city,
the alibi
of a private language
to talk about how it was
without anyone
knowing,
the white silhouettes
of swimming trunks
on their tanned and tangled
bodies,
and a packet of picture
postcards that they’ll hang on to
like some holy relic:
the old ferero bringing in the sugar cane,
the ox-herd out on the beach
and that cute babe in her Barbie-doll bikini
mouthing her “Okey-Dokey”.

Habit

I was thinking of all these habits I’ve acquired

and in all the empty cans under the sea
the octopuses make their tight abode.

I remember them from when I was a kid
with their diving goggles and little sealskin flippers
in the well of a sandsmoothed tin,
their feet all covered in dainty pink suckers,
their outrageous sovereignty.

It’s habit that keeps me hanging about
in dingy cafes,
habit that drives me to make
ridiculous appointments and pointless journeys

and unless I figure out how to be more
unpredictable,
these tight little mouths with their tight little suckers
will bleed me dry once and for all.

An Ancient Mariner

Some evenings, he will tell his story,
steering a course through memory’s haar,
a Capstan scorching his fingers:

- I was there - he will say, half-believing,
adrift in a quagmire of weed,
the shoreline blackened with tar
and stranded jellyfish.

- I was there, and the sea broke around us

The span of his days is measured out
in a handful of timeles pictures:
the slash of a knife, a woman’s sex,
the flyblown hull of a corpse.

- And here, he will say, I hauled it up,
bursting wirh spiders and urchins.

And just as it always the same wide road
That goes up to heaven and slides down to hell,
he will wander round, clutching at shadows and ghosts,
unable to catch a thing.

Diary

Steadiness, all of a sudden,
is not a state.
Nor is it omen or greeting.

Steadiness, all of a sudden,
is perpetual war
waged at the furthest
borders of the day.

On the tongue of first light,
o to speak,
or the slaked lime of nightfall.

Liquid Sculpture

If everything stops
right here, if
it’s all closing down
right now, like a trap
snapping shut,
there’s no need
to grieve.

It’s that old, familiar
sound of buckles
snapping around a bedsheet
before the lineaments
of madness
take form,

your local
cyclone of thirst, my
broken bough
and that crossways
of remembering
and forgetting,
of to have and to have not

layer upon layer upon layer.

A Field of Cork Oaks

Don’t ask me why
but they give off an air
of perfect calm
- a calm I’ve never known.

They correct my eye,
they sustain it
and they seem to exude
strength: the strength, say,
of endurance
- something I’ve always lacked.

They depend on one another
and yet they stand alone.
Immune to the passing of time,
they will never succumb
to the chain reactions of doubt

and this night cannot wholly
contain them
- this night that covers my face.

Leave Poetry

By taking away while you add up.
By covering the table with birds.
By taking yourself to places
you can’t get out of.
By wordless self-castigation.
By telling yourself: you are alone.
Because you will be held accountable.
By choosing to accept
its centuries of pain
when you think you’ve found
something new.
By its wild magnetics.
By the thirst it creates,
pretending to be water.
By its parallel existence.
By talking to yourself
when you ought to be sleeping.
By its stupid pride.
Because it stares death in the face
every time it sings
of beauty.
By providing no explanations.
By just enough.
By totally insufficient.
By savouring the shadow of tomorrow.