Poems by Nicolás Guillén (National poet from Cuba)

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HUNGER

This is hunger. An animal
all fangs and eyes.
It cannot be distracted or deceived.
It is not satisfied with one meal.
It is not content
with a lunch or a dinner.
Always threatens blood.
Roars like alion, squeezes like a boa,
thinks like a person.

The specimen before you
Was captured in India (outskirts of Bombay),
but it exists in a more or less savage state
in many others places.

Please stand back.

THE EAGLES

In this section, the eagles.
The red-tailed eagle.
The imperial eagle.
The eagle perchednon a cactus.
The two-headed eagle (a phenomenom)
in a cage all by itself.
The decoration eagles
torn from the chest of those condemned to execution.
The monetary eagle, doubled, $20 gold (twenty dollars).
The heraldic eagle.
The Prussian eagle, always dressed in black like a faithful widow.
The one that flew seventy years over the “Maine,” in Havana.
The Yankee eagle, brought in from Vietnam.
The Napoleonic and Roman eagles.
The celestial eagle,
with Altair glittering on its breast.
Finally,
The eagle on Eagle Brand condensed milk.
(A truly original
specimen.)

MADRIGAL

From your hands fall, drop by drop,
Your fingernails, a cluster of ten purple grapes.

Skin,
scorched tree-trunk flesh,
that sinking in the mirror cures in smoke
the timid seaweed in its depths.

MADRIGAL

Your womb is smarter tan your head,
Smart as your thighs.

That’s
the fierce black grace
of your naked body.

Yours is the symbol of the forest,
with your red necklaces,
your bracelets of curved gold,
and that dark alligator
swimming in the Zambezi of your eyes.

MADRIGAL

Unadorned and vertical
as a canestalk in the canefield.

Oh, taunter of genital
fury:
your walk yields for the screaming spasm
equine spume between your metal thighs.

SUGARCANE

The Black
next to the cane.

The Yankee
over the canefield.

The earth
under the canefield.

The blood
we are losing!

PROPOSITIONS ON THE DEATH OF ANA

Ana died from a shot in the stomach.
Ana died from a bullet lodged in her portrait.
Ana died from the two plus two are four.
Ana died from a single arm.

Ana died from a consumption and mush rooms.
Ana died from hiccups and a cold.
Ana died from being given poison.

Ana died from eating her sick lobster.
Ana died from eggs and with rice.
Ana died from sulphur and arsenate.

Ana died from finding herself without hope.
Ana died from a sickness not at all romantic.
Ana died from a syphilitic wound.

DECLARE MYSELF AN IMPURE MAN

I am not going to tell you that I am a pure man.
Among other things
We have yet to know if what is pure exists.
Or if it is, say, necessary.
Or possible.
Or if it tastes good.
Have you ever had chemically pure water,
laboratory water,
without a grain of dirt or excrement,
without a bird’s small excrement,
water composed only of oxygen and hydrogen?
Puah! What filth!

I do not say, then, that I am a pure man,
I will not tell you that: everything to the contrary.
That I love (women, naturally,
for my love can speak its name),
and like to eat pork with potatoes,
and chickpeas and sausages, and
eggs, ‘chicken, lamb, turkey,
fish and clams;
and I drink rum and beer and brandy and wine,
and fornicate (even on a full stomach).
I am impure, what can I say?
Absolutely impure.

But,
I think there are many pure things in the world
that are nothing but pure shit.
For example, the purity of a ninety-year-old hymen.

The purity of lovers who masturbate
instead of going to bed together in some inn.
The purity of boarding schools
where a pederastic fauna
opens its blossoms of provisional semen.
The purity of the clergy.
The purity of the academics.
The purity of the grammarians.
The purity of those who assure us
That we must be pure, pure, pure.
The purity of those who never had blennorrhoea.
The purity of the woman who never licked a glans.
The purity of a man who never sucked on a clitoris.
The purity of the woman who never gave birth.
The purity of the man who never laid a seed.
The purity of the man who beats his breast
And says saint, saint, saint,
when he is devil, devil, devil.
In short, the purity
of anyone who never was sufficiently impure
to know what purity is.

Period, date, and signature.
So I leave it written.

A revolutionary poet has moved on

By Bengt Berg To use the boxing cliché, the poet has “thrown in the towel”. Jack Hirschman was a fighter who never

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