The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2018

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MAY 2018 Issue




Poem with Simultaneous English-English Translation

                                                                                To go towards what’s to come,
                                                                                to create, if not a paradise,
                                                                                a happy worker’s house
                                                                                in the fullness of this town,
                                                                                an intimate bond links
                                                                                and an external force unites
                                                                                the race of Anglo-Saxons
                                                                                with that of Latin Americans

                                                                                [Rubén Dario, Song to Argentina]


            (the Bearer of Christ)

son of a humble carder of wool

            (son of one who went for weaving without carding)

sailed forth from the port of Poles

            (pole in paw he forsook the port)                   

not without first persuading Her Majesty the Queen

Isabel the Catholic of the benefits of the enterprise

he'd conceived

            (not without first persuading Su Majestad la Reina

            die Königin Bella the Logistical to cop

            the crown in Blumenthal’s con-verted canteen)

even if they poured out liters and liters of

genuine ancient B-negative blood

            (and even if it cost blood sweat and antipodal


went off to sea

            (went to seed)

and after months and months of ingesting only

oxymorons looking for the elusive roundness

            (and after days and days of chewing Yorkshire pudding

            with an extra penguin on Sundays)

someone exclaimed land

            (no one exclaimed thalassa)

they disembarked

in 1492 A.D.


            on 1982 A.D.)

chiefs were waiting


in the buff

            (big shots were waiting


            on their knees)

Cristóforo drew out his missal

            (Christopher shot off his missile)

said to his peers

            (muttered to his stooges)



behold these new worlds here

            (behold the unworldly filth here)

keep them

            (loot them)

for God and Our Queen

            (for God and Our Queen)


            (O M E N)





almost holy thing

is an almost holy thing

a thing almost

almost holy

so almost holy is this thing

that it forcibly draws the attention

the almost absolute blindness of people

taking into account that in the final accounting

it is almost unnecessary to see to believe in a thing so almost

so consequently almost


and what’s more this element or thing

has bled

or almost

and we can esteem it from the shade of what’s almost bleeding

over the earth over the earth over this exact same earth

and resuming the explanation

we have this thing

a thing bah a ton

of thing almost half holy

and what’s more bloody and therefore

and in budding almost ad nauseam

and this thing in another order of things

resists with almost all of its buttons

being almost uncovered

analyzed pulverized eviscerated

up to its final internal reasons

better to say almost internal because the thing itself

doesn’t peel off so easily

but rather layer by layer

like an artichoke

like winter

and time ah time that disjunctive

factor that almost runs out here

and therefore impedes us

from reaching the great why

and the superhow of this thing

almost holy

so tam tam almost holy

so almost almost

almost so holy




“where is the exit?”

“excuse me?”

“I asked where the exit was.”


there is no exit.”

“but how, if I came in?”

“of course

I remember you

and what’s more I’m looking at you

but an exit

there’s no exit,

you see?”

“but that can’t be

I’m going to leave the way I came in”


it’s already quite late

entry is prohibited after ten

and anyway, what do you want? that I put my neck on the line

to let someone leave

through the entrance?”


there has to be some way of getting outside”

“did you ask at information?”


but they sent me to you”

“okay then

and I tell you that there is no exit”

“where is there a telephone?”

“to call whom?”

“the police”

“this is the police”

“what are you crazy? this is a concert


“yes, until a certain time

then it’s the police”

“and what’s going to happen to me?”

“it depends who’s on duty

if it’s Loiácono

it’s a free ride

you’ll be out in just a few days”

“but this is insanity

where are the other people?”

“confined sector

first sub-basement”


are you doing


“come on auntie

don’t tell me you’ve never been to a concert”





                                                                                Para ir hacia lo venidero,
                                                                                para hacer, si no el paraíso,
                                                                                la casa feliz de obrero
                                                                                en la plenitud ciudadana,
                                                                                vínculo íntimo eslabona
                                                                                e ímpetu exterior hermana
                                                                                a la raza anglosajona
                                                                                con la latinoamericana.

                                                                                Rubén Dario, Canto a la Argentina


             (el Portador de Cristo)

hijo de un humilde cardador de lana

             (hijo de uno que iba por lana sin cardar)

zarpó del puerto de Palos

             (palo en zarpa dejó el puerto)

no sin antes persuadir a Su Majestad la Reina

Isabel la Católica de las bondades de la empresa

por él concebida

             (no sin antes persuadir a Her Royal Highness

             die Königin Chabela la Logística de empeñar

             la corona en el figón de Blumenthal con-verso)

así se vertiesen litros y litros de

genuina sangre vieja factor RH negativo

            (así costase sangre sudor y lágrimas


se hicieron a la mar

             (se hicieron alamares)

y tras meses y meses de yantar solo

oxímoron en busca de la esquiva redondez

             (y tras días y días de mascar Yorkshire pudding

             y un pingüino de añadidura los domingos)

alguno exclamó tierra

             (ninguno exclamó thálassa)


en 1492 a. D.


             en 1982 a. D.)

jefes esperaban

en pelota


             (mandamases aguardaban


             de rodillas)

Cristóforo gatilló el misal

             (Christopher disparó el misil)

dijo a sus pares

             (murmuró a sus secuaces)



ved aquí nuevos mundos

             (ved aquí estos inmundos)



por Dios y Nuestra Reina

             (por Dios y Nuestra Reina)


           (O M E N)





cosa casi sagrada

es una cosa casi sagrada

una cosa casi

casi sagrada

tan casi sagrada es esta cosa

que llama poderosamente la atención

la casi absoluta ceguera de la gente

para tener en cuenta que a fin de cuentas

es casi innecesario ver para creer en cosa tan casi

tan consecuentemente casi


y es que además este elemento o cosa

ha sangrado

o casi

y podemos apreciarlo por la sombra de lo casi sangrado

sobre el suelo sobre el suelo sobre el mismísimo suelo

y retomando la demostración

tenemos esta cosa

una cosa bah el montón

de cosa casi medio sagrada

y además sangrada y por ende

y en ciernes casi ad nauseam

y en otro orden de cosas esta cosa

se resiste con casi todos sus botones

a ser casi descubierta

analizada remolida destripada

en sus causales últimos internos

mejor dicho casi internos porque la cosa en si

no se deshoja fácilmente

sino capa tras capa

como los alcauciles

los inviernos

y el tiempo ah el tiempo ese factor

disyuntivo que casi aquí se agota

y por lo tanto nos impide

llegar al gran por qué

y al supercómo de esta cosa

casi sagrada

tam tam casi sagrada

tan casi casi

casi tan sagrada




–¿dónde está la salida?


–le preguntaba dónde está la salida


no hay salida

–¿pero cómo si yo entré?


yo la recuerdo

además la estoy viendo

pero salida

salida no hay


–pero no puede ser

voy a salir por donde entré


ya es muy tarde

desde las diez hay entrada prohibida

además ¿qué quiere? ¿qué me den un lavado de cabeza

dejando salir a una persona

por la entrada?


tiene que haber un modo de llegar a la calle

–ya preguntó en informes?


pero me mandaron a usted

–y bueno

y yo le digo que no hay salida

–¿dónde hay un teléfono?

–¿para llamar a quién?

—a la policía

–esto es la policía

–¿pero está loco? si es una sala

de conciertos

–eso hasta cierta hora

después es la policía

–¿y qué me va a pasar?

–depende del comisario de turno

si le toca Loiácono

por ahí la saca barata

y en menos de unos días está afuera

–pero esto es una locura

¿dónde está la otra gente?

–sector de confinados

primer subsuelo

–¿por qué



–vamos tía

no me diga que nunca fue a un concierto



Susana Thénon

Susana Thénon (Buenos Aires, 1935–1991) was a poet, essayist, translator, and photographer. Along with Juana Bignozzi and Alejandra Pizarnik, Thénon is considered part of Argentina’s “’60s Generation.” She published five books of poetry: Edad sin tregua (1958), Habitante de la nada (1959), De lugares extraños (1967), Distancias (1984), and Ova completa(1987). Between 1967 and 1984, she focused more on photography, and her photographs can be seen in Brindis a la danza (2010) and idilios (2014) both by Iris Scaccheri.

Rebekah Smith

Rebekah Smith translates from Spanish, edits at Ugly Duckling Presse, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at NYU.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2018

All Issues