Three Poems

Néstor Perlongher

Once upon an Animal
Once upon an animal bleeding and sweet
of numerous faces
whose wounds oozed music and sweat
bleeding in their lapses
It was like an extinct species
muted and meek
but whose antics sometimes reveal a friskiness
—perhaps a nostalgia—
of its gallant grooming
Once upon an animal fugitive and fossil, but its felonies
betrayed the same sense of petals
in whose gums it stank, tangled, the anguish
impaled, like a young invader
—in its disobedient flashes throbbed a hopeless dread
How many adverbs and adjectives will catch its wake,
the enclosure
Its wicked life
Wicked calm its stubbornness
in a wretched aperture
Oh instruments of wind where nipples are shaken
hooted, howled in the light of a Chinese music
bottomless barns where it found no wheezing virtue
sloppy stamens
Once upon and once upon: blond gallants
dragged their glow like a banner
trampling the fringes
Once upon an animal tethered and troubled
by fervent misfortunes
fed by the dust of rubies
and the sound of the hills

what in that drip from beardscrape
moistened the tile, or blue-
bird of dawning beard,
gushing from that point, the prick of
            that play, in the mist
of that lace that is scraped, or drop
that laminates: because the hand that eagerly scrapes, like a beard, the little
            blue of those armpits, or those thighs—can make out thighs in
                        the fog
of smoke, in the steam of that
eruption: ruptured play, rose
the lamé, “for the slightest little thing,” or slap
                                    of wetness, spoils
of loin in the depths, or the slip
of those fevered sleeves, how it flexes
            from sweat: or that perspiration that touches, touched, that headpiece
that little lady’s headpiece and that soap of the vanquished, suffocated that
                        gasping breath, like venereal
nymphs, in the lake of a scene, they grid; they tally, they tail
in the tail of that journey: because in those rooms, cramped
                        by lizards that gird little blues, or creep, salivating
through the corridors of a curtain, tangled like a towel that
                        slides, or lets itself fall, on the planks,
of wood, womb, that plays, wild, plays the stepmother of that nearly gray
                        headdress: but in its lace, per-
haps reveals something? that creamy bruise that shines through the hole
                        or that breath, fiery, in an ear unseen
or unknown from what face                it is, in that unseen
            groove, that wrinkle
                        of perspiration: rooftops of ooze,
where desire, in soft ridicule, becomes splashing . . .

The Wickedness of Self
Be still, death:
                        your infernal blasting
cloudclearing builds the shelves
the festering sage the wastelands
of creamy torpor stains and melts,
absenting bodies in the fields:
the rotten bodies in the fields swept away by leprosy.
No longer can you hold forth.

Look, death, at yourself.
Retreat without triggering the explosion of your shell.
Hidden so as not to be discovered.
For once you arrive you turn everything to absence.
Gray absence, flat absence, painful absence from what is lacking.

It’s not what is lacking, it’s what remains, which does not hurt.
That which exceeds the sly austerity of things
or that overflows unfolding the pettiness of the imprisoned soul.
While we are inside ourselves the soul suffers,
suffers that existence without words suspended in the fig tree
like a lost night owl.

translated from the Spanish by Brent Armendinger