from Body of Miracles

Juan Carlos Quintero-Herencia

Earthly Seascape

Nets fail the old fisherman.
He can no longer cast the distance.
A resident of scarcity with tattered clothes.
He turns his back to the sea.
Still the mountains are not the landscape.
He carries his gear toward them.
The void of the net is visible on the shore.
The occasional snapper gasps.
The blue crab that suffocates in waste.

There are no familiar sounds, nor a woman at the window.
Only the mountains to receive him and
the double horizon of the buildings.
From the foot of the range the highway
that approaches doesn’t wind,
but his eyes are still motet,
an immense sound system
that today won’t miss a thing.

He takes in the succession of sea and land.
It is the water that watches him.
The bluish hollows are the bodies.
The head that shortcircuits.
The mirror of those greens the eels have.
The thicketed mountain or a head under algae.
Liquid membrane that overflows the pupil.
Of the boy who caught white bass in the distance.

Experience swims blind
pursuing in the continuity of the waves
that calm like tedium—rotten fruit—.
The fisherman reaches his shanty,
casts the hammock that always catches him,
blue shark that has eaten an American.

The Caribbean landscape is this mess of guineafowl,
bats devouring papaya,
fallen leaves to which the wind adds a plastic bag.

As time passes the fisherman is the object of distant visitations.
Children leave baskets of fried food near his house.
Bottles of rum.
Porn mags.
Horse-racing magazines.
A joint the envy of cigars.
They know that he is not yet senile.

In the mornings the fisherman shits on the sidewalk
that leads to the beach.
Sometimes he makes mounds that the wind dries,
sometimes he covers it with dirt and sticks,
and at night mongoose and crabs uncover them.

He has been seen to raise a pyramid of firewood,
to burn planks as though it were the only way out,
to walk around aware of his sinking
in the merciless oil of the horizon,
the neighbors think he meditates while he makes charcoal.

The day greets him covered in scales.
He is an old pig,
he is an old dogfish,
they are not clouds,
gills have grown somewhere,
he raises his head just so
at the foot of the mountain,
a juey that can’t hide from him.

How to know where the vines the ferns begin,
where the corral or the waves end?
How much distance between the near and the far?
Where the villa or the minarets.

He smiles or twitches,
like a hoe that rusts underground,
the old festering
like salt residue he releases.

Trojan Horse

In the depths,
where the trench faces El Morro
is a black Medusa,
where the black swallows the black,
an enormous fish—blind
and scaleless—
arching leaps,
membranous fin
glowing labia

Lost in this dim brilliance,
drawn by the small light,
spread out penis
prehensile charcoal
efficient snare
soft rod swimmer,
hidden harpoon that is all light,
in its mouth small fish succumb

In the depths
the fish unfolds its organ
passes quiet
slow as molasses
over a sculpture that when touched
turns on the current motionless its detritus deposited

Of unused wood
black once again,
buried up to the knees
the horse whinnies

In the depths of the Atlantic,
a fish of the thousand demons
lets its coarse sex fall
over the Trojan Horse

through its hind quarters,
the fish clears the line in one bite,
the path that wheels forgot in the sand
a secret swell of waves
from time to time
the sea of chance
erases it and writes it,
an advance retreating

It’s possibile to imagine the Acheans
frozen in that march,
but they still can’t be seen there

Which is your war, mijo?
What have you done to deserve being
submerged here with the sea inside you?
Who would imagine you now as a silent deathblow?
Who would have thought that this would be your greatest battle,
face to face with your living double
hot and smooth

In this distant pool,
open tomb,
a shipwreck survivor
without an island,
a horse without a mast,
a deaf man without procession
without alarm,
without sound
the Trojan Horse
heralds eternity in a step
that will never come to pass

In the depths,
where the hype had never taken root,
there: dark cave
cave in the cave
(parenthesis of black titanium)
the head the lips
the crest the mane
the beautiful tension of the neck,
they wait forever for what is already theirs

The auspicious fish
first of its race
flaps violently its rapid farewell,
an arrow of shadow darkens the half-light

Beneath the mushroom-cloud of lifted sand,
without stealing
without body,
a horse frozen by the shadows
never tires of waiting

translated from the Spanish by Erica Mena