from Night

Ennio Moltedo


We’ll go around the world. Walking. Just for the exercise. As preparation. For one reason or another. Because the New Year. Because no one can take us seriously. Just for show. Like a big-day.

Tiring, for sure. Some will die and others crawl. But while the world obsesses on absolute kingdoms, we are walking, always walking, disinterested, to our own beat. If you lose the beat, as everyone knows and repeats, you can never win. Come in to see us. Perfectly folded and pressed. Eyes on the horizon. Swallowing wind, clouds, moldable borders. Always staring, and clocking in.

The die is cast. The very same mold. Without saying a word—that’s forbidden—without hearing a single word, having no destination, cursing birth itself, heading for the screen of another world.
Men walking to where men don’t exist.



Definitive sentences do not appear in these pages unless previously published in the newspaper of record—as the law decrees and horizons vanish.



Payment is due.
Who am I to extend credit in the middle of the musical avenue?
Payment is due, cash down on the counter or onscreen—you’ve got the freedom to count your bills or hit enter—but payment is being drawn on the earth, for the multitude of flowers and lawns rolled out by the mile, a gift that seems naturally to have sprouted from a point in space, to expand and advance until it reaches us (how is it possible to conceive of something so beautiful?).



For political reasons the authorities banished the poet. Now an old man, he was given to know that if he showed signs of repentance he would be allowed to return to the fatherland.

Never, replied Dante.

For centuries Florence has solicited Ravenna for the return of the poet’s remains and that city has always replied: Never.

Never will we be capable of replying never.



Anarcho-nihilist-akratic, many names but only one father for this son who returns on a bicycle, old and naked, with adverts hanging down his back.



The general heart doesn’t beat. Though it exists.
What we can call—in sentimental moments—the collective heart is not the sum total of individual hearts. The general heart is a unique artifact and whoever finds it can consider himself dead.



1937, Madrid, Ridruejo, fascist poet, goes to the Republican side; not that it made his verses any better, and the same is happening here and now, 1977.



Constantine: I am informing you that the city has been divided. The north side will continue on with its poor neighborhood, the student walkways under the palms, the shouting in the marketplace and the mad rush of carts competing with the train that runs above the sea.

The avenue of binomial gods points south, toward a different Paradise Valley put in place by a giant hand where concrete tower and open pit drool with useless power from the realms of the “idiot” kingdom.

Constantine: only in dreams, with a view through the triumphal arch, is it possible to once more imagine the blue hill and a cloud that floats freely across our ancient time.



Reappearance of the devil. But is it true?
Consult, examine. Serious arguments, political and theological, will take place in the agency.
The corpse’s change of color will say yes but how was agreement achieved in the heart of the capital’s capital. There will be hand-wringing, eye-rolling, tugging of collars and ties. Damn it all, someone will say, the children had to be sent to the provinces and there need to be lookouts for when it enters this city of houses and subways where the market is blue with the crusts of dried blood whose dust is found on every altar or corner where you see yourself reflected and submit to all authority and eat and greet and bow and curtsy in the hope of one day getting invited to the table of toxic feasts—damn it all!



He started in school. Selling fruit and bread to his classmates. Then pencils, elastic bands, sponges.
Today, to acclaim, he is selling the country; by parts, by zones, fertile or arid, blue above or below, and he’d sell his mother if he still had her.
A new mother is what he needs to be sold once and for all.



The iguana kept silent for years but now it’s licking its lips again and pointing its tongue at those who should disappear—aesthetically, I mean—at those it allows to bite into the fruit and those who can publicly display their art if it has been sold in compliance with the ten-point instructions on the form.

To him who dares to opine on my behalf saying he’s protecting me from the night, from the flowers of evil, from the excess of light, and who from his post in the tower dispenses counsel from above or below the stocks, bad for children, bad for the country—here being the birthplace of Vicente’s “O,” though good for the good of evil, do me a favor, shut your beak. Hook yourself up to your own personal police hose. Crow for your own private purpose, platform or brotherhood. Stop praying with the sambenito under your bed. Lift up your skirts and stick your fears up your own moral chasm.



The night was like day: moon. The moon was like a sun: night. Impossible to know the time, the place, the reasons between so much light and shadow.
I woke not knowing where. I had to count on my fingers. I had to call on the phone. Use my tongue.

They all lie: the director, the accused, the doctor.
They all lie, each with his pre-arranged face, and the lawyer explains that it’s a matter of opinion, and that back-and-forth is how the flag blows.



We wait for them on the blue shore. Let them come from every corner. Rag-sellers, cure-sellers, wandering tale-tellers, ad-runners, errand-runners, the shamefaced, the abased, et cetera.

The sea washes them naked and carries away the slime.

translated from the Spanish by Marguerite Feitlowitz