Sakra Boccata

José Antonio Mazzotti

      1


The Moon, completely new, rushes over the Sun. Look at her head
     of hair setting the firmament on fire. Her skin hardened and white
     like the night.

A back covers a beard. A gush of seaweed mixes with the tongue.
They have descended to the bottom of the seas on the first floor.

In the city guardians stroll by, sentries of their dream. The secret of
     two is a miracle
Of the free, those heavenly bodies who pass each other on the high-
     ways and for barely an instant
Look at each other as lastingly as comets.

I dreamed about you every night for more than 300 years, I counted
     rosary beads until falling asleep
And threaded their Perfect Circle with the needle of your orbit.

Aries allows himself to be dragged by the Sun's power
To the greatest reefs of the coast:

And the waves hammer Your Name, gushing through the foam
    the peach tree nectar of your Sakra Wound,
The happiness of the catacombs, the resurrection of the dead
And Life Eternal.





     2


It rains on the mountains of Cibelia
The Moon hallucinates her backing of clouds
But those that draw near are made of smoke
Clouds of factories and of bombardments
There where Moon decides to encamp for a few days
As long as two piers
And docilely the tide strolls by snooping on the windows
Of feeble girls
And irradiates for each one the smallness of her body
And the splendor of her tamarind odor
Each tree of flesh is a stretched shellfish
She drags her mop across the washed sidewalks
Her infinite lips kissing the ground
Her snail raised like a drop of honey
Bifrontal and consistent
There Moon descends through the air
In order to plant her foot
She burns her footprint on the tip of the pens
The city blushes in the presence of her name
The amber goddess has arrived
The sea explodes over the nocturnal cliff

It rains on the mountains of Cibelia





     23



With the thickness of the drop that summons itself from the ceiling
With the sudden breath of the young lover who now has nothing
     to lose
With a desire to descend the stairs
I mumbled Her Name in the shadow
Making room for it among the leaves on the ground
Forming mud, scabs, avenues
That then toss its mooring lines onto the port

Until now only waves sufficed to calm the infinite nights their plum
     breath their memory
Of viscous liquids emerging from the dew of flowers:
Thus their juicy waters sticky with wax never visited by lovers
And the eternal condemnation of feigned desire as if nothing would
     happen as if the sadness of the world
Was not enough

These juices impregnate time like air in the void
Offices shaken by the absence of employees reddish
Subways at the base of the plaza all and each one of the pictures
     he did not trample
Like a promise without an echo in which only the wounded sailor
     lives
By the lost tavern

And with the same pain in which I have grown
With the same silence in which I write to Her





     24


If I write to Him it is to populate this blank page
The proportion of the shore assigned to us after the freshet
To fill it with pebbles until we see it grow
To purify its lines in spite of the sand

There the perfect stage for the Mass was erected
There I climbed to sacrifice myself
With an inverted smile spidering my chest
While with the face of the devil he plunged his hand
Into what was most genital of the terrestrial
Lost in darkness I enjoyed its fragrant boiling
I saw its waves rise like a mottled snake
I merged with the gods I was a goddess
Who then was found splashed on the plants
Under the fire of the rain and his breath

They called me Toxcatl
Because I was the goddess of time
And while he pulled out the stone
And pain cut through me and my blood screamed
He was only doing what he had to do
Before returning to his boring tribe
To cook little bones and to open up dogs

In spite of everything
I still come in the morning to populate it

If the fools only knew
This part of the field belongs to no one
And just as we discovered it
They will take it from us





     25


The flowers that the goddess dreamed of appear on her rose bed
The world floats on these lines in the wind
Odiferous and delicate like a top
Marking the route of a map
On her back

Wind that crosses the landscape on cold days
Put away your corduroy knapsack and fetch a drop of water
Spittle salt marshes foam
Clots of splattered sap
Of snappings and the sound of stones breaking
On the coast in flames

The goddess rises from her rose bed a cataract tremor
Heard from far away (far away someone sings) far away
Her outline in a bed-sheet dressing gown never arrived:

A wretched tree the prosecution of roads
That pass through no towns that do not think about soles
Torn by window glass

But the lines stay and the suavity of the world is hardly
     pressured
By the vague light of dead stars

translated from the Spanish by Clayton Eshleman



Read translator’s note

José Antonio Mazzotti is a Peruvian poet, scholar, and literary activist. He is Professor of Latin American Literature in the Department of Romance Languages at Tufts University, President of the International Association of Peruvianists since 1996, and Director of the Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana since 2010. He is considered an expert in Latin American colonial literature, especially in El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, and a prominent member of the Peruvian 1980s literary generation.

Clayton Eshleman has recently published, among others, a translation of The Complete Poetry of Cesar Vallejo with a Foreword by Mario Vargas Llosa (U of Cal Press, 2007), The Grindstone of Rapport / A Clayton Eshleman Reader (Black Widow Press, 2008) and Anticline (Black Widow Press, 2010). In the spring of 2011, besides Aime Cesaire's Solar Throat Slashed (cotranslated with A. James Arnold), to be published by Wesleyan University Press, he will publish Curdled Skulls, a translation of the poetry of Bernard Bador (Black Widow Press), and, with Lucas Klein, a translation of 31 poems by Bei Dao, called Endure (Black Widow Press). A professor emeritus at Eastern Michigan University, he continues to live in Ypsilanti with his wife Caryl.


SAKRA BOCCATA is a 28 section serial poem by the Peruvian poet José Antonio Mazzotti, published by Ediciones Invisible, Mexico City, 2006, and by Mundo Ajeno, Lima, Peru, 2007.  Mazzotti is currently the Chair of the Department of Romance Languages at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

Concerning the title of the poem, Mazzotti writes: "Sakra Boccata is a title coined after words for Sacred and Mouthful in Spanish/Italian. The Italian 'boccata' also refers to strongly exhaled or foul breath. In Spanish, the equivalent would be 'bocanada,' a word that can be divided into 'boca' (mouth) and 'nada' (nothing), a metaphor for the impotence of written poetry facing the splendor of poetic reality.

'Sakra' also evokes the Quechuan 'saqra,' a mischievous demon. Thus Sakra Boccata

can also be read as "a mouthful from the Devil,' which can refer to cunnilingus.

The divine breath that God breathed into matter as well as a sense of poetry as an art that creates life are also present in the title. These ideas are of medieval origin when poetry was conceived as the Queen of Arts and Sciences, as it should be."


Content