Confusion & Cowboy

Alejandro Albarrán


She says: “I was confusing gerunds with geraniums.”
—That’s a joke.
—No, a confusion.
A body floating in the water is not a gerund
although it swells up.

—Did he throw himself into the river?
—Yes, he was confused.

The body in the water swells up,
just like a gerund.

                        Said of the person who speaks or writes in an inflated style,
                        inopportunely affecting erudition and wit.

When a seed swells up, when it bursts
leaves will sprout; eyes,
although they may swell up, don’t bloom.
Bodies will bloom and the word gerund
will be a geranium.

The bodies of the drowned are not bodies,
they are
seeds. Soon they will be
They are being, being reborn, on their way
to fill the water with flowers born from their bellies.

Rivers will be
shifting sands. Forests fleeing woodcutters.

They will blossom.

And under water
the river-born men will dance
with a geranium on their heads.

The river is what is being.
She says: “So, river is a gerund?”


The world is no longer enough
for a pile of poems
Glory is no longer enough
for a pile of poems
Life is no longer enough
for a pile of poems
Poems are no longer enough
for a pile of poems.



We insist on inventing something sinister. Small
implanted beings, embryos replacing phalanxes,
members replaced by oblations, self-sustainable
parts, hypodermic tubes, flexible, hyper-
sensitive, interchangeable, analogous cables.
We insist on writing false extremities. Prostheses
that compensate for what’s missing.


I don’t want to write a prosthesis, my phalanx
poem, I don’t want to write a prosthesis, my
pinky-finger poem, I don’t want to write a prosthesis,
my arm poem, I want to write a yellow stump,
a stump lengthily caressed, not the missing extremity
but the consciousness of what’s absent, the
involuntary reflections and the phantom limb,
I want to write the amputation.


I write what does Not:

There are yellow cables in the dermis, there are yellow
cables in the cochlea, there are yellow cables in the
buttocks, there are yellow cables in the encoded concavity,
in the little hole.


There are horses in the pubis, there are horses in the abdomen, in
the pelvis there’s an algebraic flute, there are some dumping
gears, there are gálapagos in the abdomen. There are gálapagos
and wallops: gallops.


(They say that’s a metaphor.) They say you eat it
like this, like this they say, they say bag, gallbladder, raft,
they say membrane, bile, they say I’m rafting
on a sea of bile, they say you have to cross with
two coins on your eyes, I’d rather tear them out and
just carry the sockets, the missing.


I travel on this sea rubbed raw by the coast, on a raft that you can pull apart to make a cross that flaps like a flag, like the waves of this bilious sea, this sea from which a sacred body’s scabs emerge, from a swelling. This raft on which I float is a stump and I’m mounting it cowboy-style, riding my stump over the bile, people will say they saw me mounted on a white swan, they’ll say that they saw me, but it will be a lie, it will be my raft, the stump-raft I ride, and I too am a stump, a phalanx extirpated from my mother’s belly, and I’m also an absent extremity, I’m a mutilation, I’m a piece of arm floating in the water, amniotic, floating in bile. They’ll say I’m a swan and that my feathers are golden, they’ll say I’m a mythological bird, but it will be a lie, it won’t be true that they saw me on a swan’s back, it won’t be true that I myself am a swan. Just a stump floating in water. “For this absence there is no prosthesis,” there are no poems, poems don’t suffice for this absence, nor does all of love suffice. There is no phalanx. No one will see the stump because it’s deep inside, in my stomach, in my dark purse, there’s a stump floating in my sea, but the sea is here inside, I feel it, and I too am inside riding on the back of a stump, a stump upon another stump: a cross. This emptiness, this cold at my back, this absence, is it the absence of God? This absence is a stump floating in water. Is God, then, a stump or a swan that passes by my window, white, white like snow?

translated from the Spanish by Rachel Galvin