Streets and landscapes

Tegucigalpa, Honduras by Fellowship of the Rich on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND licence)
Tegucigalpa, Honduras by Fellowship of the Rich on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND licence)

Herber Sorto

He cruzado esta calle
con la ilusión de llegar a otro mundo,
por lo que digo:
aquí no hay nada,
no existe nada.
El paisaje se hace camino en las alturas,
el horizonte regresa a su lejanía,
la fábula es lo que he vivido
y el lado roto de la vida, lo que crece.

tr. by Dave Bonta

I have crossed this street
under the illusion that I was arriving
in the other world, saying:
there is nothing here,
nothing exists.
The land becomes a road through the mountains,
the horizon recedes into the distance;
I’ve been living a fiction all the while
life’s broken side continues to grow.

Alejandro Barahona

la calle sola

Un perro, la piedra
que le persigue

tres caballos
ganan al automóvil
y su caudal de niños

El parque es una flor
en un pueblo ausente

Un policia y su vergaro,
dos abogados
y todo lo demás es bueno

tr. by Dave Bonta

only the street

A dog, the stone
that pursues it

three horses
overtake the car
and its wealth of children

The park is a flower
in a missing town

A cop and his bullwhip,
two lawyers
and everything else is fine


Nelson Merren

Miro el día lavado
en agua sucia.

En el aire mojado
el mar entrega su amenaza
de ruido y minerales.

Cae la lluvia.
La lejanía ensimismada
se pone un rebozo de sombra.

Aún las voces parecen
fantasmas viejos y convalecientes
en el aire colgados.

Pasa un ave. Parece
con su sotan mojada
la última ave del mundo.

Todo parece esfumarse
en el ruido del aire con sordina,
en el vientre del día acorralado.

tr. by Dave Bonta

I look out on the day, washed
in dirty water.

On the moist breeze,
the sea issues its noisy,
mineral threat.

It rains.
The preoccupied distance
dons a shawl of shadows.

Voices still seem as if
they’re suspended in mid-air,
agéd and convalescent apparitions.

A bird goes by.
With its wet cassock, it could be
the last bird on earth.

Everything seems to dissipate
in the air’s muted commotion,
in the belly of a cornered day.


Tulio Galeas

Este es un barrio triste. Los niños
al crecer vistieron de soledad las casas,
las risas devolvieron su manantial al sueño,
y el misterio reparte su pan con manos amplias.

Las madres estaán solas y la cena está fría.
El viento temoroso de romper el silencio
cierra con pesadez sus grandes párpados,
y hasta mi corazón late despacio para no despertarme.
Ruedo por escaleras de niebla gota a gota,
cubro mis dedos tibios con ceniza,
y un río negro y sucio me invade y me corona.

tr. by Dave Bonta

This is a sad neighborhood. Children cloaked
the houses in solitude when they grew up,
laughs reverted to their origin in dreams,
and mystery doles out bread with its broad hands.

The mothers are alone; supper has grown cold.
The wind, afraid to break the silence,
eases its great leaden eyelids shut
and even my heart beats slowly to avoid waking me.
I tumble down stairs of mist drop by drop,
coat my warm fingers with ash,
and a filthy black river invades me and fills me to the brim.

Roberto Sosa

Vivo en un paisaje
donde el tiempo no existe
y el oro es manso.

Aquí siempre se es triste sin saberlo.
Nadie conoce el mar
ni la amistad del ángel.

Sí, yo vivo aquí, o más bien muero.
Aquí donde la sombra purísima del niño
cae en el polvo de la angosta calle
El vuelo detenido y arriba un cielo que huye.

A veces la esperanza
(cada vez más distante)
abre sus largos ramos en el viento,
y coundo te pienso de colores, desteñida ciudad,
siento imposibles ritmos
que giran y giran
en el pequeñ ciculo de mi rosa segura.

Pero tú eres distinta:
el dolor hace signos desde todos los picos,
en cada puente pasa la gente hacia la nada
y el silbo del pino trae un eco de golpes.

duro nombre que fluye
dulce sólo en los labios.

tr. by Dave Bonta

I inhabit a landscape
where time doesn’t exist,
where gold’s been tamed.

Here, one is always sad without realizing it.
Nobody knows the sea
or an angel’s friendship.

Yes, this is where I live — or rather, die.
Here where a child’s purest shadow
falls in the dust of a narrow street.
The flight delayed beneath a fleeing sky.

At intervals, hope —
each time more distant —
opens its long branches to the wind,
and when I think of you in colors, faded city,
I feel impossible rhythms
circling and circling
in a tight orbit around my definite rose.

You are, however, distinct:
suffering signals from every peak,
on every bridge people cross over into nothingness
and the hiss of a pine tree carries an echo of blows.

Tegucigalpa —
hard name that flows
sweet only on the lips.

Rigoberto Paredes

Algo en pie quedará
de este reino de furia: seres, brasas, semillas
guardan fresca memoria de otro tiempo
que hoy se estanca entre ruinas.
Sangre fértil
en algún lugar de Centroamérica.
No tardará en llegar el verde de los días.

tr. by Dave Bonta

Something will remain standing
from this kingdom of rage: beings, embers, seeds
keep fresh the memory of another time
that today stagnates among ruins.
Fertile blood
bursts out
of almost any spot in Central America.
Green days won’t be long in coming.

For another, lighter poem by Rigoberto Paredes, see his “Elegy to Obesity” at Moving Poems.

Series Navigation← Mothers and fathers

8 Replies to “Streets and landscapes”

  1. Dave thanks for dwelling with Honduras. There seems to be some glare at this time that keeps me from seeing too far into the poems, but still I get a feeling of being somehow present in that landscape where I’ve scarcely, but memorably, been. Two nights, one very memorable at the hill town of Santa Rosa de Copan, and another at Danli, which is only now coming back to me due to this prompt – a low sitting town, a lit butcher shop after dark, the reeking meat. In both towns, of course, the central square, Danli’s peoples, Santa Rosa’s empty. The intensity of the arid northern ranges, both vast and compact, the Central American phenomenon of great changes in landscape in scores of miles (not hundreds and hundreds as it is up here). We drove through from north to south entering in the afternoon, leaving in the morning. On the southern outskirts of Tegucigalpa, a slender young policeman halted our vehicle and sunnily requested a lift and all three of us packed onto the bench of our small truck. Your weeks long stay there must have been something.

    1. That “glare” might be my fault — I’m nowhere near as conversant with the language or the culture as I should be. These translations are very provisional indeed. (That’s why I included the Spanish, in violation of copyright.)

      Despite the brevity of your visit, you seem to have gotten a very good grasp of the basic geography. Thanks for sharing those vivid anecdotes.

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