meditations on language

de filosofia no sé;
del amor tampoco o menos;
pero me pones pensar tu
si es posible mancar
lo que aún no haya tenido.

*

*

this morning the light comes
through glass as if it were

autumn, but there is no poem
in it. in english,

one can say only i miss you,
but that doesn’t cover

by half the september sun
he says i need.

in italian, mi manchi,
you are lacking to me;

a lesson in grapeskins
and empty palms.

in spanish the thing,
like autumn morning light,

gets nearer: me haces falta,
te echo de menos,

te extraño: you make me lack;
you make me less;

i miss you. like a third hand
to turn the door knob

when my arms are wrapped
around your waist.

lust, observed

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in my hometown
the laundromat

doors are open at 3 in the afternoon
to catch whispers

of a triple-digit Ju-ly breeze.
the machines whir,

and there is country coming
through the overhead.

small talk is all in Spanish: que
calorcito, eh? black-

laced sweet nothings
of a frazzled mamá drip

from the handrail of one of those
little carts. the floor

is dirty, and the air
smells of bleach.

the coke machine doesn’t work,
but the dryers

are wonderfully efficient and she
feels more like mamacita

than she has in months, con-
siders bringing one

of those country songs
to life, stripping

down to her calzoncitos while
watching machines spin

sweat & loneliness from her thin bed-
room sheets.

lunera

the young moon is
strung up
above the river looking
like a pale imitation
of herself,
a soul-thief who
gypsy dances
her way though mid-
winter madrugadas seducing
me to desperation
with silken slipknots
hung
between each
shadowed star.

You can find the original version in Spanish here. I’ve kept a few words that just didn’t give the same feel in English: madrugadas are early mornings— think partying-all-night-till-three-or-four-a.m. early. Lunera itself comes from “moon,” but, well… two WordReference sites, a handful of language forums, Google translator and a Guatemalan boyfriend all failed me in finding a direct translation. (Thanks anyway, Omar. ;)) The sense of it, though, for me, is making the moon “personal,” i.e. addressing it more as a person  and less as a far distant chunk of rock. And it definitely has something to do with a lullaby.  ~jsl