TWO POEMS from PORT TRAKL
I got off in the fog of Port Trakl,
searching for the bar of good fortune to chat about my trip.
But everyone stared at the polar stare in their drinks,
silent like the sea off a desert island.
I went out to roam the red lit streets.
Perfumed and bored women, selling their tired bodies.
“In Port Trakl poets come to die” they said,
smiling in all the languages of the world.
I gave them poems I planned to take to my grave
as proof of my time on Earth.
You say you can’t stop going to the bars
along the morning shore,
that the bodies reach you
with that port violence always sold
to the lowest bidder.
In truth you’ll cry in vain.
Your thirst will be but the vanity of the trees
on the hill that have conquered the turbulent night sky.
Meanwhile, the silence will do what it can
to those poems sweetly burning
in the overflowing ashtrays of your life.
Old is the port and I cannot wait
for another morning to block the horizon.
Bars and alleyways owe me little
and my gaze has never been infinite.
Here death and time are strangers;
like fleeting waves, they never leave a print.
There is a land better than this hill,
better than this bay where the light comes to die.
There is a land where the bread tastes like bread
and not like the sweat of exiled men
with no destiny.
From the publisher’s Web site: Reducciones, by indigenous poet Jaime Luis Huenún, was recognized by the National Council on Books and Literature as Chile’s best poetic work in 2013. The book is a compilation of poetry, stories and archived documents which aims to shed light on the history, culture and the heart of the indigenous Mapuche people. Huenún has received numerous awards over the years including the Pablo Neruda Prize in 2003 and a Guggenheim fellowship in 2005. He comes from a Williche community in Osorno, Chile.
About the Translator: Daniel Borzutzky’s recent books and chapbooks include The Performance of Becoming Human (2016); In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015); Bedtime Stories for the End of the World! (2014); Data Bodies (2013) and The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011). Poetry translations include Raúl Zurita’s Song for His Disappeared Love (2010), and Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (2008). His work has been supported by the PEN American Center, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Illinois Arts Council.