Translation Tuesday: Five Poems by Benito del Pliego

Destruction/satisfaction: everything is a question of measurement.

Openly encouraging an oracular approach in which readers pose questions to a series of poems and identify either themselves or others through the answers they obtain, Fable showcases Benito del Pliego’s familiarly deft touch as he places puns alongside paradoxes and striking images next to penetrating insights in moving explorations of isolation and recollection. Continuing a career-long commitment to fostering meaningful interactions between a text and its interlocutors—whether readers, accompanying illustrations, or other poems in the collection—this Spanish poet highlights the unfamiliar in the familiar and makes poetry about the everyday seem anything but ordinary. These poems are taken from the collection Fable / Fábula, recently launched at McNally Jackson Books in New York.



—It’s hard to move forward when you only want to go against the current.

Later you discover that nothing remains, that the future has countless origins.

Sometimes you feel like a shipwrecked sailor; sometimes you think anyone who wants to flee never goes further than herself.



— Destruction/satisfaction: everything is a question of measurement.

Suitable in its place, outside itself, exiled. For a fish, hearth. Over knowledge, light. Salaciousness, spilled without reason. For anyone who drinks it in another skin, delicacy; exhausted love, adversity.

From “nuances” to “nuisance” an “i”, an “i” with only one point: a single grain of salt.



— Not being that which holds, being the clinging itself. Sustaining gives form, gives motive.

Metaphor of hunger, metaphor of strangling.

Anguish remains when loss loses itself, drowned in melancholy’s arms.



—A gap is a place and a shoe is a gap where many directions fit.

The path you witness today you unwitness tomorrow. And despite all this, your toe will be the milestone opposing your heels.

The mouth itself is a shoe emptiness puts on.



—Union of two and division of many.

Those who come together and constantly chafe at each other form a single blade. Don’t get between those who love like this: the hunger to kill will show you no pity.


Translated from the Spanish by Sam Carter

Click here for more information about Fable / Fábula.

Benito del Pliego was born in Madrid in 1970 but has been living in the US since 1997. A professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Appalachian State University, he has published numerous poetry collections including Índice (2004), Extracción (2013), and Dietario (2015). His work has also been featured in anthologies such as Forrest Gander’s Panic Cure: Poetry from Spain for the 21st Century (2013) and Malditos latinos malditos sudacas: Poesía iberoamericana made in USA (2010).

Sam Carter is a doctoral student in Romance Studies at Cornell University. An Assistant Managing Editor at Asymptote, he lives in Ithaca, New York.


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